Bosham to Bognor – Battleaxe appreciates Hastings!

Last week Philosopher and I set off on a little voyage to explore the Chichester Harbour area, with Bosham as our base.
     Apparently it’s pronounced Bozzum. It’s an odd thing that in the posh world, there are so many words and names waiting to catch out the hapless pleb who says them wrong. I’m thinking: Althorp, Belvoir, Menzies, Glamis, Gonville and Caius, Ralph, Beauchamp, Urquhart, Cholmondeley, Featherstonehaugh. [Now there’s a little competition for Battleaxe readers – leave a comment giving me the correct pronunciation of the names above.]      As seems to be normal just now, the weather was blazing hot. We stopped for lunch in Chichester, and went to the nice cafe in the Cathedral Cloisters, where you can sit outside in the shade. When we first visited, a couple of years ago, we were troubled by crowds of ecclesiastical wasps, but none were out this time.

Chichester Cathedral Cafe
Cool cloister…

     We drove on to Bosham, where neither of us had ever been. We had rented a little studio apartment in a courtyard garden near the harbour, which proved to be very well-appointed and comfortable. If anyone wants to know the details, please contact me.

Courtyard Studio

     We had heard that Bosham, at the head of one of the harbour inlets, was very pretty. It was nice, but we thought not eye-wateringly beautiful, and clearly was geared towards the needs of an up-market sailing community. There was a nice, unpretentious pub, The Anchor Bleu, where we ate both nights, at tables overlooking the water, a lovely old church, and many gracious homes. Clearly the Sailing Club is the centre of village life. It all felt a bit haw-haw hooray to us.

Bosham Church
View from the pub terrace
Sailor’s paradise
Some sort of sailing race

     The tides in the estuary change the profile of the land substantially – roads round Bosham appear and disappear twice a day, as does the car parking at the back of the pub, as this unfortunate motorist discovered.


     We went for a walk around the estuary in the cool of the evening at low tide – in fact, you could cut straight across the middle of the tidal inlet. Much smelly green algae.

Evening low tide
Path across the inlet – algae
Bosham sunset
Storm clouds ahead?

     Houses in Bosham are incredibly expensive and sought-after. I found this article in ‘Country Life’, about a £3.25 million house on the waterfront that has just been ‘launched’ onto the market:
    ‘Buyers in Bosham are mostly London-based venture capitalists and people from the private equity world who are still working, but not as a wage slave any more….. we anticipate that the buyers of xxx house will base themselves in London and use it first as a holiday home with a view to moving there permanently one day.’
     Eh? a £3.25 million holiday home? Who are these people?
     One strange thing – no herring gulls in Bosham. Small black-headed gulls, but none of the familiar shrieking that accompanies life in Hastings.
     On our first night we had firstly, an invasion of flying ants, and secondly, a truly massive thunderstorm – a day earlier than the one in Hastings. Dealt with the ants no problem, with boiling water. Thunderstorm was exciting because the studio had big Velux roof windows. The blinds did not quite cover them, so the almost constant lightning flashed straight down onto our bed.
     Next day, we went first to Hayling Island – Philosopher had never been, and he also wanted to buy a Cretan garden pot from a place that sold such things. I had visited Hayling Island as a child, and remembered it as a nowhere place. We found the pot shop easily, and bought a nice one, but the place is now nowhere veering towards dump.
     Went to visit Fishbourne Roman Palace. I had been years ago, in the 1970s, when it was just being excavated, and remembered walking around an open site. Now, most of the remains are enclosed in a big building, and although there are some nice mosaics, it didn’t seem either that impressive or well-presented.
      Next, neither of us had been to Selsey Bill, so went there. Forget it – bungalow-land nowheresville.
      Readers of this blog may remember that I am very into fossils (see previous post), and Bracklesham Bay, just along the coast from Selsey, is a very famous fossil site. We went to look. Unfortunately the tide was coming in, but there were loads of fossil bi-valves just littering the beach. Philosopher said they looked like horny old toenails and not like real fossils at all. Bracklesham? Yet another nowhere place.

Fossil hunting at Bracklesham
Fossil bi-valves

      By this time it was getting very hot indeed, so we drove to West Wittering, where there is an enormous sandy beach on a private estate. My, that must be a tidy business. Parking was £4.50. There must have been getting on for 2000 cars there, and the car parks weren’t even full. Our landlady told us that at peak times parking is £8.00. Imagine that income, day in, day out…..
      The beach was heaving. Actually it was no better/different to our own Camber Sands, just much better organised. We threw ourselves into the sea, and had to walk out nearly to the Isle of Wight to get the water above our thighs. It was as warm as a bath.

West Wittering Beach

       Next day, we went to look at Bognor Regis. What can I say? I think it was George V who said ‘Bugger Bognor’, and I can’t really better that. I went to Butlin’s in Bognor with my first husband and my daughter in about 1980, but what we could see of the present-day Butlin’s ‘Resort’ was totally unrecognisable. From the outside, it looked like the back of an Asda.
        Visiting these places makes me really appreciate Hastings – the diversity and interest of the architecture, the varied coast and countryside, the general ‘buzz’ about the place. For everyone who moans and complains about Hastings – go on, swap it for Bognor! Go and live on Hayling Island, why don’t you? Or how about retiring to Selsey?


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