Emsworth in Hampshire is one such place. Although the Sunday food market is small, there is certainly no shortage or variety of delicacies to tempt your taste buds. The aroma of Thai cooking wafts through the stalls and one cannot help but stop to test the variety of sauces on offer. Ishmael offers a tiny plastic spoon for this and while describing his selection of sauces, we found ourselves adding one of each to our shopping basket. His label Ishmael’s Mother on all the sachets is a comforting one and of course his motto Eat this, you’ll like it, eases any hesitation that you may have.
I cannot leave a place of eatery without something sweet and for this, there was the delectable cup cake stall. Crafted with great skill, these cupcakes are so beautiful that I couldn’t bear the thought of eating them and when I eventually did, they were a bit on the stale side.
The village is not very large and doesn’t take one long to wander through. Unfortunately there was a bit of a chilly breeze, so our plans of walking along The Promenade around Mill Pond didn’t seem terribly inviting. Instead we returned to our car and headed across to Hayling Island, which to me was a new discovery.
6.5 kilometres long, it is a true island, completely surrounded by natural watercourses at all states of the tide. Not my favourite type of beach as sadly the sand has in recent years been mechanically topped with shingle in an effort to reduce erosion and reduce the potential of flooding to low lying land.
Hayling Island however didn’t fit into my quaint equation. It seemed pretty ordinary at first but stopping at a beach-front restaurant where we had a window-seat-view of the ocean, I was astounded at the windsurfing interest on this island. They have a strong claim to being the site where this sport was invented in 1958 by a young boy named Peter Chilvers and just by looking at the dedicated surfers in their dry-suits, I had no reason to doubt that claim.
Rented beach huts decorate the beach and although most were closed up, waiting for full summer to arrive, it was entertaining to see just what people did with their huts. One open hut displayed a tumble of beach goods, waiting to be used, another craftily utilised his spot with a small lounge chair, rug, countertop with glasses and cups and a few ornaments and yet another where a mother innovatively used the space as a playroom for her two young children. I don’t know if I would lay out the cash to buy one, but perhaps renting may be an idea for a family with young children to avoid carting chairs, umbrellas, towels and the normal beach accessories that accompany one when setting out for a beach day.
Hayling Island also has a funfair which is open all year round and with many hotels, bed and breakfast venues, caravans for rent, it seems to support the tourist trade sufficiently.
Personally, I am on a quest to find a quiet, unpopulated and very quaint seaside resort. Whether or not I’ll find this, is still to be seen.