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Saturday, 17 March 2018

Burnham-On-Sea: cheap thrills, chips and charity shops.

If you ask me what my perfect day out with a baby is, I'll say get the little guy in a sling and take him to a run down seaside town for an afternoon of gawping at England's most interesting and weatherbeaten people, and shameless browsing of charity shops.

My wife HATES shopping but I love it, in fact I'd go as far as saying one of my simplest pleasures in life is to go at a snail's pace through a load of charity shops and whittle away time.

Luckily, I have a very obliging baby who seems to be cut from my cloth, and enjoys the browsing experience as much as I do. Today we went to one of my favourite haunts, Burnham-On-Sea in Somerset. Let me tell you, this is a PARADISE for the chazza shops. It's a god damn mecca!

Quirky road in Burnham-On-Sea
Quirky road leading to the high street, AKA shoppers' paradise
It's a joy to walk around. You've got a decrepid high street where Almost every Shop has Random Capitals on their signs that make absolutely no Sense. They have also been given logos that look like they were designed by a Child.

Burnham-On-Sea is eye porn, pure and simple. It's a feast for the senses, and your inner typography nerd will be screaming!

It's also full of pensioners, who inevitably croak it. Their lifelong hoards of awesome, unusual or terrible items are then gifted to the charity shops, so when you wander round them, your senses are assaulted with all things 80s, toys you remember playing with as a kid, and also things that are so tasteless you wonder how the hell anyone bought them in the first place.

They are a collection of unseen stories, from the tragic to the awesome. You'll see things that are weird, bizarre, cool, retro, awful, trashy, and wonderful all at the same time. You can't see the stories but you can feel them in your hands.

What else do I find interesting about them? Maybe it's the smell of dead people and house clearances coupled with the TK Maxx effect: you never know what you're going to find, and one day you find that one item that speaks to you on a primal level and screams "I am YOURS, motherfucker. Take me home!"

Man looking at Barry Manilow record in Burnham-On-Sea charity shop
Locking on to target, please wait
A funny picture of Barry Manilow looking suave
Take me baby.
I'm solo dadding for the next three nights while wife has a girly holiday. Today in Burnham was fucking excellent because I did all the things my wife would never agree to, charity shops included, she absolutely hates them! It was the perfect adventure with mini-me (the eldest is at his grandparents for the night, lucky me!)

I decided we'd do this properly, and find a greasy spoon, after all it's character building for the young lad. This place did not disappoint and the locals were extremely welcoming. He lapped up the attention of course, and had a procession of lovely old ladies shaking his hand. This reminded me of when he was a newborn, and it's an old lady's god given right to shake your baby's hand, pinch his cheek and politely enquire about his weight.

Picture of a traditional English cafe, very retro
Oooh yeah! But what or who is BOS? Did they forget an apostrophe?

Anyway, the kid was getting all the attention, and milking the shit out of it. No interest in his fish fingers and chips whatsoever, he'd already been given a caramel biscuit by the staff, and he's crafty. He has a sweet tooth and won't eat 'proper' food when he knows the Brucey Bonus is around.

I was loving life in this place, it was awesome knowing there was no way my wife would ever come in with me (she's a cafe snob) but here I was left to my own devices to experience the traditional English seaside town eatery.

Bos cafe menu, Burnham-On-Sea
Decisions, decisions.

I think it's sad that most of England, especially in cities, is being gentrified. Every day a new organic cafe pops up, and don't get me wrong I'm a cafe snob as much as my wife, but if you think about it, the 'real' England is being slowly eroded by the obsession we have with posh coffee and bistro food, and things looking 'just so'.

The real England is harder to find, but alive and well in Burnham-On-Sea. The views across the Bristol Channel mud flats look more like an apocalytic, desolate wasteland, framed with picture perfect concrete sea walls.

Me and the son at Burnham-On-Sea
"Excuse me can you take a picture of me so I can write about your town."

And then there's interesting locals everywhere, all with their own stories to tell, and it's really hard not to stop and watch them (or stare).

The town is a heaven for people-watchers and fans of a bygone age.

It's a place that endlessly rewards you for going down a side street. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, a stunning piece of street art.

Amazing graffiti in Burnham-On-Sea, fine art of girl staring at a lantern


Salvador Dali street art in Burnham-On-Sea with the caption, "True love is surreal"

I can't wait to go back.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this then maybe you'll like my blog about a dirty burger...

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