It’s quite an interesting challenge when friends say they have never been to your home town but are looking forward to exploring it with you.
What kind of introduction to Sunny Worthing could I plan for our visitors? How could I show off my home town at its best? Most important, was there any way I could change the weather forecast?
Mr B warns me that I will be lucky to manage a few hours before the rain sets in. However he is happy to drop us off in town so we don’t have to incur parking charges and to pick us up when we
have finished the Grand Tour. So I planned the following route. First, a walk along the pier and back, so that I can show my visitors the stained glass windows commemorating the day a ship-wrecked ship’s cargo of wood was washed up on the Worthing
beaches for as far as you could see in both directions. It is also the best place from which to view the famous Dome Cinema and to recount its role in the film “Wish You Were Here.” We decide not to indulge ourselves by playing the penny
slot machines in the Amusement Arcade though if the Little Welsh Boys had been with us we wouldn’t have been able to escape this particular seaside attraction.
It’s cold and blowy on the pier and I can’t help wondering if, in my role as Tour Manager, I have failed to consider the comfort of my guests in my eagerness to show them the sights. We beat a hasty retreat and leave the sea-gulls and the
fishermen to it.
Next a walk to Splash Point, site of a £500,000 regeneration project, where I am delighted to see the tamarisk trees are in bloom. Then
on to the emerging Artists’ Quarter where a number of beach huts have been taken over by resident craftsmen. Past the fiendishly difficult Putting Green and across the road to Beach House Park where the World Bowls Championships are taking place for
the last time – next year they move to Leamington Spa (boo, hiss!)
While in the park, I show my visitors the memorial to the Warrior Birds – the many carrier pigeons who served their country
in the Second World War, carrying vital messages between here and the Front. Once upon a time it was possible to negotiate the stony path right up to the memorial stones but now that is considered unsafe. The memorial was originally designed as a rockery with
water bubbling out between rocks into a drinking pool. There were also two carved pigeons on top of the stone blocks but these were stolen. A green metal plaque at the gate to the memorial reads:
ON TOP OF
THIS MOUND IS A MEMORIAL TO WARRIOR BIRDS WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES ON ACTIVE SERVICE 1939-45. IT IS ALSO FOR THE PLEASURE & USE OF LIVING BIRDS
It's one of Worthing’s
hidden secrets, I tell my companions who dutifully read the Information Board, as instructed. I decide that I am turning into a rather Bossy Tour Guide.
along the road we go, past the pub where Mr B’s Dad enjoyed many a liquid lunch during World Bowls Weeks in years gone by, past the antique shop with the windows crammed full of grimy treasures, and past the specialist Bowls Shop. Into Warwick Street
where we make a welcome stop at Cafe 33 - my friend is amazed to receive change from a tenner for two lattes, a pot of tea, and three toasted tea cakes.
southern end of Warwick Street, there is a surprise awaiting my little tour party of two – a sandy “beach”, complete with “I Love Sunny Worthing “ deck chairs (I want one!), stripey beach huts and a Punch & Judy show.
A gaggle of littl’uns are already gathering, ready for the next show. It's Worthing's imaginative answer to the limitations of its shingle beach. Clever stuff and a boon to the "bucket and spaders" among us. I am proud to count myself among them.
We walk through the Royal Arcade and buy ice creams to eat on the prom while waiting for Mr B to pick us up. Ice creams are kind of obligatory at the sea-side, don’t
you think? Two of us get incredibly sticky as our coconut ices drip down our fingers. The third member of our little party has no such problem and eyes us askance as we try to mop ourselves up with the tiny squares of tissue supplied by the ice cream parlour.
We are like Big Kids. Where are the Wet Wipes when you need them?
My original plan was to drive along the prom and stop off at the Waterwise Garden (aka
“Woodhenge”). It’s one of the places I always like to take visitors to Worthing. Alas, the rain had started to fall so we decided to cut our losses and make straight for home.
I wish the sun had been shining. I wanted my visitors to see Worthing at its sunny best. But there you are, as every successful Tour Manager knows, you have to make the best of whatever the day throws your way.
I think my visitors enjoyed themselves. Me? I had a lovely time, thank you!