Almost two-thousand runners gathered together on Bognor Regis seafront to push their personal boundaries by running 10 kilometres in the beautiful Sussex sunshine. John and I decided to show our support by joining them. Not for the run of course. I would if I could, but I have an old hip injury from the great ping-pong ball chase of 2011 when I ran too fast across the lounge and reached high velocity, resulting in a spectacular slide through the kitchen and crashing into the litter bag. Since then I’ve left the running to the experts. It has nothing whatsoever to do with my generous waist circumference or love of chicken nibbles!
The road race has been staged every year since 1995 and attracts serious runners as well as individuals and families who want to have a good time, raise money for charity and fulfil personal achievements. The runners jogged and sprinted from West Park in Aldwick to Butlins and back, passing the sun-bathers on the shingle slopes and the jet-skiers propelling their noisy engines into the waves. I had to take my hat off to the this chap who looked to be well into his seventies dressed as a can of beer collecting money for the Rotary Club of Bognor Hotham who organised this event as part of their community service and fund-raising programme. He puffed his way past, lifting each leg just an inch or two off the ground, pushing himself forward with an exhausted smile on his face, while some kind passer-by tapped him reassuringly on the shoulder. Then he stopped to give me a stroke which felt a little sweaty but I appreciated the gesture and responded with a chirpy chirrup to cheer him on.
As some of the runners passed the finish line, John and I decided to enjoy an ice-cream along the esplanade and watch the band playing heartening music in the bandstand. I took a lick of the creamy treat John had bought and contemplated those crazy days when I was a kitten chasing ping-pong balls around the house, leaping up the windows to catch a fly or climbing the bed-post to walk across the beams up by the ceiling. I took risks back then that I wouldn’t take now, but I didn’t have the wisdom to choose the right ventures. Now I have the understanding I need to know what’s worth pursuing but I don’t have the fearlessness to pursue them. Funny how life goes! But perhaps I don’t need fearlessness, just the energy and courage to fight for what I think is right. Today it’ll be encouraging an old man to finish a race, tomorrow it’ll be rescuing a worm from drowning in the pond, the day after that, who knows what opportunities for kindness the universe will bring my way.
It was an incredibly bright day with almost no clouds in the atmosphere, and the sky and sea were virtually the same shade of pale blue. The water glistened delicately in the sunlight which reflected off the features of the environment down at Shoreham Harbour. These are great conditions if you want to sunbathe, but no so great if you want to take photographs because the camera does not differentiate well between the various structures in the landscape. So John and I spent some time wandering around the grassy bank at the mouth of the River Adur, listening to the sound of children playing in the remains of a fort built over 150 years ago to defend the old trading port. There was a long jetty for fishing and flint stone walls strengthened the coastline. We watched the sail boats cruising gracefully out to sea and spotted an RNLI lifeboat station.
The doors were open and the bright orange boat was proudly displayed on the slipways, ready for action. It’s a new Tamar all-weather lifeboat with a top speed of 25 knots enabling the crew to reach its casualty quickly and has shock absorbing seats to help the crew be more comfortable (if that’s possible on a choppy sea in a search and rescue mission). The local community raised the funds necessary to knock down the old lifeboat station which was inadequate and prone to flooding and replace it with a modern facility that opened in 2010. The boat is named Enid, after the lady whose generous legacy funded a large portion of its £2.7million purchase price.
We also took a trip to the airfield and a stroll along the river. The airfield was busy that day and we spotted a few choppers and plenty of light aircraft with three-bladed propellers and the odd bi-plane. The tide was out so the river was not at its prettiest, with mostly mudflats and silt on view which looked like brown sludge. There were lots of pools of water where the seagulls gathered to bathe, ruffling their feathers and flapping around, making a right old song and dance of it. I flicked my tail at them disdain and trotted back to the car. John had a hankering for an ice-cream and I quite fancied a lick of it so we set off on our next mission to find an ice-cream van.
The recent wet and windy weather has sadly wreaked havoc for many people across the country. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to see your home flooded with water and lose your most treasured possessions, like those photos and trinkets that have sentimental value and are irreplaceable. John and I have been quite fortunate and although there has been some localised flooding and roads blocked, we have not had evacuations, power loss or injuries in the area. But like many things in life, there are two sides to every story, and we witnessed the fun side of the unsettled weather the other day when we stopped on the sea-front to watch the guys and gals I their wetsuits riding the waves. They looked so happy out there, pushing their bodies to the limit to harness nature’s powers just for the challenge of it, smiling and waving to us while the strong winds drove salty rain-drops into their faces.
Suddenly I picked up a powerful smell in the air and turned to see a pretty blonde canine whose enthusiasm for the outdoors bordered on bonkers! Despite the pungent smell of wet dog (bet you thought I was getting a whiff of something else!), I chuckled to myself as I watched her bounding across the damp sand and shingle to the water’s edge to fetch a stick and go running happily back to her master for another go. Dogs seem to get such a thrill from pleasing their loved ones and demonstrating their loyalty and dependence. I think it’s important to point out here that cats are devoted too, and depend on humans for care and nourishment, but they show it in their own unique ways. I like to surprise everyone after dinner with a mad sprint across the house, leaping into the air to land deftly on a piece of fluff in the carpet, hurtling up to John with my ears back, rubbing my cheeks lovingly against his leg, biting his toe, and then diving into my bed in front of the fire for a nice nap with a sweet innocent look on my face!
We got chatting with some of the onlookers watching the surfers, mostly friends and family members who had come to cheer them on. They told us that the surfers were very serious about their sport and there was friendly rivalry between the kite-surfers and the wind-surfers, but it was all in good taste and part of the merriment.
How old is the pier? – 148 years old as of 2013 First built by the Bognor Promenade Company, the original Bognor Regis pier took some 18 months to complete and was opened on the 4th May 1865. Costing £5000 to construct, Bognor’s first pier consisted of a basic jetty which was some 1,000-ft in length with a kiosk at the shore end where for the sum of 1d, visitors could stroll down to the end of the pier and admire the views that the pier provided. Unlike the majority of piers that were built at that time, Bognor Pier was a private undertaking constructed with the help of local labour. In 1876 the pier was purchased by the local council for the sum of £1200, after which a small bandstand was added. Some 35 years after initial construction, the first pavilion was built at the seaward end, opening on 9th July 1900. The following year, saw the construction of a landing stage at the seaward end to allow paddle steamers to dock. By 1906 the landing stage had become redundant due to the fact that larger more modern vessels found the docking facility rather inadequate. Due to ever increasing maintenance costs and an estimate for repairs mounting to £ 11,000, the Council of the time made a decision to sell Bognor Pier in 1908 for just 10s. 6d (about 50p in today’s money) to Messrs. Shanley and Carter. Over the next few years, they invested almost £30,000 into the pier. After this initial investment and major restoration, the pier pavilion was once opened again in 1909, in time for the Easter Bank holiday