Monday, 26 August 2013

Downtown Sheerness on a misty day...Let's hear it for Sheerness!

There I was, coming out of the station with no idea where to go next. Thankfully, help was at hand in the form of a sign giving directions to the most important sights:

Two things:

Firstly, I'm a day tripper, a tourist. I have no need to use the local DSS Office, which, as an aside, is now referred to as "Jobcentre Plus". I will also arrive in the hope that a visit to the local police station won't be necessary. 

Secondly, and now listen up, whoever you are in charge or discharge of signage at the local authority, which presumably is Swale Borough Council: We are all aware of the various socio - economic problems that seem to cause issues on Sheppey, but is it really necessary to showcase them in this rather inept and completely avoidable fashion? Take a course in PR, marketing or tourism, but, above all, find a strategically superior position for the sign, you numpties! And Pronto!

Without further hesitation, I made my way to the seafront via Tesco's carpark. At this point, there was still a fair amount of sunshine and I arrived at the stretch closest to the Docks. I expected an avalanche of bank holiday tourists. I was prepared for the worst and more .....mobility scooters, but (surprise! surprise!) the seafront was pretty much deserted, in fact there were almost as many ships as people. Great, if you are into inline skating or power walking!

The mist by now covered the sky and the entire atmosphere around. No sight of Southend - on - Sea in the distance. It was high - tide and the sea was quite lively, as is usually the case on the Isle. Still, it was pleasant, warm, breezy, and yet I cannot recall ever witnessing as much mist as this on the coast, especially on a day in late August. Sheppey, the Misty (windy) Isle, you are an amateur photographer's worst nightmare...Perhaps, I should have adjusted the ISO? Who knows? 

Nonetheless, there were quite a few sights to behold. Nothing that could be described as overtly pretty. Sheppey is more of a destination for people who wish to remain grounded in some kind of reality. This could be the reality of naval history, industrial heritage (rather, its legacy) or the first - hand experience of the economic deprivation witnessed across seaside towns in Britain these days. In other words, it's a bit of a nerdy destination and that's what makes it chique in my book. 

Recession in Action!... because purely pretty is boring:

World War II Pillbox, Sheerness Seafront

These World War II pillboxes are located just next to Sheerness docks. Pillbox - enthusiasts will notice that the pillbox in the picture below on the left seems to have been camouflaged by giving it the appearance of a residential property.

Pillboxes, Sheerness Seafront 

A selection of cargo - Sheerness docks

If you didn't come across random acts of vandalism, it wouldn't be Sheppey. The prize for the most 'inventive' act of anti - social behaviour goes to whoever decided to dispose off two Tesco trolleys in the ditch next to Sheerness docks:

Hey Tesco's! I found your trolleys in a ditch! 

Street art on Sheppey is usually understated and the same applies to Ros Barber's poem inscribed on the steps of the seawall. The poem deals with the 3000 tons of explosives that are still buried off Sheppey's shores inside the hull of the shipwrecked SS Richard Montgomery. If detonated, it has been suggested that the explosion could potentially cause a Tsunami, thus significantly rearranging the entire local geography with shock waves reaching as far as East London (approximately 35 miles). 

Ros Barber's poem inscribed on the steps of the seawall

Sporting the distressed look: The Ship on Shore Pub

I have no idea what was being transported in the black plastic sacks, but these islanders seemed in a hurry to get to their destination:

The Locals

Juvenile Seagull and its dinner

On this occasion I didn't venture into Bluetown, but I passed it on my way along the abandoned steel mill.

Despite pleasant weather conditions and a red and yellow flag, the seafront seemed oddly deserted, especially considering that my visit coincided with the August bank holiday weekend.

Deserted Sheerness seafront despite a red and yellow flag 

A visit to Sheerness wouldn't be complete without passing the distinct pink Victorian row of terraces. The islanders refer to these as "Shrimp Terrace".

Shrimp Terrace, Sheerness - on - Sea

Sufficiently refreshed by the breeze, I decided to make my way from the promenade to Sheerness High Street, which was still fairly busy with shoppers. As the light started to fade and the visibility was poor, I only managed to take a shot of the rather colourful clocktower before making my way to the station for the return journey to Sittingbourne, which in the end turned out to be rather eventful.

Clocktower, Sheerness - on - Sea

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