I’ve always had a soft spot for the English seaside. It’s idiosyncratic, a little kitschy, a little gross. There are those pre-war beach windbreakers. There are tuna and sweetcorn sandwiches in packed lunches. There’s a mangy dog nipping at your feet as you run into icy waters. It’s always windy, often pebbled, and full of litter.
We love it like we love mushy peas – that is to say we learn to love it. But Sandbanks is nothing like that. Sandbanks is considered a cut above, and it is. The chintzy aspects of seaside towns like Paignton and Bognor Regis are lost on Sandbanks and its £13 million bungalows. Seaside entertainers dressed up in stained suits are nowhere to be found alone Panorama Road. It’s more bluefin tuna and Dom Perignon than cold saveloys and cans of Carling.
Whatever your thoughts are about British beaches, Sandbanks is undeniably beautiful. It’s almost as if Mother Nature forgot she was designing something for England. The spit of sand stretches out along the English Channel and unfurls into Poole Harbour. If it’s not raining, it’s quite something.
I stayed in Sandbanks once. I was 12 and my mother and I spent a week by the sea. It was pretty and it was boring – though isn’t every holiday boring when you’re 12? Something struck me about the place at the time, something I’d never experienced before. The steady passing of time. Everything felt slower. You could sit and watch the waves come in for hours. You could gawk at the kite surfers until the cataracts set in.
It’s been called the Palm Springs of the UK. I wish we wouldn’t do that. We only set ourselves up for disappointment.