What a fabulous sunny Good Friday – weather not set to last through Easter, one gathers. Today, I told Philosopher that Battleaxe wanted to check out the Source Park, a new skate/BMX thingy in the old White Rock Baths.
‘Mmm, Sauce!’ he grunted in mock camp yet strangely unenthusiastic tones, without raising his eyes from the Guardian. (Is camp grunting even possible?)
We strolled down to town over the West Hill, hearing faint sounds of shouting and chanting from the traditional Good Friday Stations of the Cross procession going on in the Old Town below us. We have watched that event several times, and I have written about it for this blog, but this year the sun and the sea beckoned louder. At least Jesus wouldn’t be wearing thermals and long-johns under his raiment this time.
|Glorious spring day|
We had a cup of dish-water coffee and a soggy apricot slice in the West Hill cafe. Sitting enjoying the sun on the terrace, and admiring the unparalleled views, I wished, as I do so often, that they’d jazz up that caff a bit. Sure, we don’t want Rick Stein’s clifftop bistro, but a bit of investment would not come amiss.
|Old town from the cafe|
The old baths under the seafront have been empty and derelict for years. It is good to see them used, and from a Battleaxe perspective, very good to think of lots of rumbustious young persons safely confined to a soundproof underground bunker. There should be many more such bunkers to contain more of them….
|Entrance to youth containment bunker…..|
We went in with some trepidation, expecting a daunting Hades of shrieking youth and pounding music, but the staff were friendly and welcoming, and in the large main park they have retained the old spectator gallery from the swimming pool days. Anyone can wander in and use the cafe, which has plenty of seats where you can watch the action below. It was quite noisy with crashing and banging on the wooden surface, but the users seemed quietly intent on practising their skills, jumping, spinning and whizzing round the bowls and ramps below us. Battleaxe would recommend anyone at any age to go in and use the cafe and have a look – it is very interesting to watch. Coffee was good, too, and they do eats as well.
There is another skate area, the Plaza, in another part of the building, but it has no spectator gallery.
I was very impressed by the level of skill on show. There were BMX bikes, skateboards and little scooters, and an age range from adults down to little ones being helped by their dads. How long does it take those kids to get that good? All boys, although they do have sessions just for girls. I was even more impressed by the levels of co-operation they showed – taking turns, keeping out of each other’s way, obviously looking out for each other. You’d have to undertake a structured long-term observation project to find out how anyone who did not ‘fit in’ to the co-operative ethos was managed, and presumably, frozen out, but we only saw users meshing together thoughtfully and seamlessly, despite high speeds, sudden direction changes and dead halts.
Needless to say, the only exception to the prevailing sweetness and light was some posh pushy mother. Philosopher was getting the drinks, and I had positioned a stool by the gallery rail, and was carrying another to put beside it. This woman literally wrenches the stool out of my hands, saying ‘I need that, I have three boys.’ Despite the fact that I am the Battleaxe, when faced with such astonishing rudeness all crushing retorts fly out of my mind. Instead of hanging on to the stool and saying ‘I need this, I have a husband’, I dumbly let her take it. Then of course, her brats didn’t sit on their stools at all, just screamed up and down the gallery.
We spent a few moments imagining organising a WI outing at the Source Park, BMX riding…..
There were quite a few unrestored/art deco bits from the old baths remaining. Here’s a few pictures, together with a photo of the pool as it was.