For the Professional Writing unit of BA (Hons) Communication and Media, I was asked to write a magazine feature about Bournemouth. I then created a double page spread for it using Photoshop and Adobe InDesign.
Discover to rediscover
Being fairly new to Bournemouth, I haven’t really taken much time out to explore the area. Obviously I’ve been to the wonderful sandy beach (a massive upgrade to the stony seafront of my hometown, Bognor Regis) and experienced the array of pubs, clubs and restaurants, but it’s probably about time I acquainted myself with more than just the face of the town. Rather than only visiting the usual, in-your-face tourist attractions, I want to become a Bournemouth resident and see the places that far too many forget about, and newcomers or holiday-goers may not even know about.
I’m a fairly typical student, one such trait being that I am overly lazy. If I don’t have to leave the house during the day, then I’ll pretty much always be found dossing around the house in my finest monkey-covered fleece pyjamas. Being lazy is fine, now and again. But I recently found myself actually longing for some fresh air and exercise.
I dragged myself and the boyfriend out of bed on one of our rare days off together, to see what else Bournemouth could offer. It wasn’t particularly the best day to be out and about; in fact it got pretty awful as the day went on. April showers decided to show up slightly early, and in the form of constant heavy downpours. Being someone who tends to shy away from wet weather, I don’t really own much in the form of waterproof attire, but I wasn’t going to let the weather get in the way of my exploring! I had a browse on Google Maps for some greenery amongst the gloomy grey of buildings, roads and car parks, and off we went.
Bournemouth Lower Gardens boasts many tourist attractions and events, proving popular to the masses during the summer months. Anyway, I’ve wondered around these gardens plenty of times before, usually to get between the shops and the beach. We strolled across the town centre to the Central Gardens, noticed a sign to Coy Pond and decided to head there. We didn’t realise then that the gardens stretched from opposite the pier for almost two miles, or that the rain could actually get any heavier. The further the walk from the seafront, the more natural and untouched the area becomes. Rather than the pristine flower displays and carefully trimmed grass of the Lower Gardens, the Central and Upper sections are left to grow far more naturally around the stream running through all three.
The Victorian water tower gives character and a suggestion of the history of the Upper Gardens, which is also split into three sections. The Bournemouth.gov.uk site states that these three sections represent the continents Europe, Asia and North America. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to tell this just from the plants and trees (my Uncle has told me numerous Latin names for plants I didn’t know existed, and I’m still none the wiser), although I found the variety and use of evergreens managed to brighten up a pretty dull day.
I stopped to speak to Simon, who was walking his mud-covered Terriers through the gardens. He lives close by, so often walks his dogs here and was happy to tell me why he enjoyed it:
“It’s always pretty quiet here. In better weather there are more people wondering around, but it seems so far away from the more commercial and busier parts of Bournemouth.”
The lifelong Bournemouth resident continued: “the main tourist attractions are wonderful assets to Bournemouth… but it’s nice to bring the dogs somewhere quieter where they can be let off the lead.”
I asked Simon if he feels he makes the most out of his hometown. “There are some great places in and around Bournemouth, but I probably don’t visit them as much as I should… Especially when it’s cold and wet, I don’t fancy trekking miles from home!”
But I was actually starting to enjoy my walk in the rain. I did, however, start to think, do most of us need an excuse to get out and enjoy the outdoors? It’s far too easy to hide in the warm, dry indoors until it finally gets hot enough outside to hit the beach we all know and love.
Inspired by the large green heart-shape on Google Maps, and after finding out it’s not just a golf course, our next trip was to Meyrick Park. The surrounding woodland area also proves to be popular with dog walkers, and seemed to shield us well from the wind and rain.
Alison and Mandy were walking their dogs round the woods while their partners were playing golf. Mandy laughed and told me: “I don’t always come out here with him, but it was supposed to be nice weather all day! It’s a nice long walk if you go all the way round, but you can cut corners if you don’t fancy it all”. They both agreed that there are plenty of excellent spots in Bournemouth that probably aren’t as well-known as they deserve.
Being a coastal town, the beach is arguably the main attraction of Bournemouth. Taking this into account, I couldn’t ignore the seafront on my exploration. Taking the advice of student Zoe, we headed to East Cliff. “The views from up there are amazing… you can really see for miles”. On a clearer day, you really can see for miles up there. Past the pier, we could just about recognise the vague outlines of Studland, Swanage, and the Isle of Wight behind Hengistbury Head on the left. We waltzed down the East Cliff Zig Zag (which is very adequately named, and also very steep, as we found out on the march back to the car not-so-conveniently parked at the very top. My lazy student body was unimpressed with this finale to a long day of walking).Hen
Walking along the promenade I found myself missing the trees of the gardens and Meyrick Park shielding me from the wind and rain. I strongly recommend saving the open seafront walks for calmer days! A friend, Geo, who has lived in Bournemouth since childhood, suggested I visit the chines. They give a taste of the beach as well as woodland which has taken over the dry river valleys.
“I know a few really nice locations in Bournemouth, but I definitely don’t take advantage of them. I tend to stick to the same places when I go out and about… It wasn’t until I was about 21 I came across the suspension bridge standing across Alum Chine, I thought it was awesome… there’s nothing else quite like it in Bournemouth.” Geo’s excitement about something as mundane as a bridge intrigued me, and to be honest I resulted in sharing this amazement. We stood high above the ground of the valley, but felt minute compared to the masses of extremely tall trees completely surrounding us. As they swayed in the wind I wondered how such tall and skinny trunks weren’t snapping! I also learnt (from RivieraBournemouth.co.uk) that a playful young Winston Churchill supposedly jumped of this very bridge, managing to escape with a mere broken bone.
While I was leaning more about Bournemouth, I realised that these places I visited were new to me, but not hidden. I think I’m right to assume that plenty of local residents don’t pay enough attention to such less prominent areas. We all ought to take the time out to explore and rediscover our hometown, whether we’ve lived here two or 20 years.