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Oct 2017

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The name might suggest the best of all the resorts and while it may not be quite all that, it's certainly up there, seaside-wise. This trip's been split by an 'overnighter' but with dusk already descending, the rest will be checked out, just after checking out, during tomorrow's daylight.

In that combined time, however, the pavements are found to be potentially paved with gold and there's a day trip that one day soon will possibly require a passport, probably.

There's a distinct lack of action on the pedestrian-friendly bit of Beach Road but there's something strangely appealing about places like this in what's nearly November.

The clocks may have gone back but so have the visitors meaning you've got the place to yourselves, nearly, but not so in summer when this will all be bustling, definitely.

There are still around three million day-trippers when in season, you see, although they tend not to stay overnight, they say.

That'll be just you, then, and the not-too-rowdy looking group of crown green bowlers who are here for some tournament or other. They were thought to be bowlers, clutching their ball-bags and greeting each other with 'Jack, Hi!'

  Bistrot Pierre (Beach Road)

Futuristic, French-bistro style dining in a flying saucer on the seafront. They'll soon have competition from a few other chains when the development of Weston's Dolphin Square is finally  finished.

Dolphin, of course, one of the few things not on the menu here because even the French don't eat 'em.

Visitor numbers were boosted by that artful prankster  Banksy™ back in 2015 with a piece of pop-up work outdoors,  Dismaland. This subversive installation was described by Banksy™ himself as a 'sinister twist on Disneyland' but a 'lot of bad art by the seaside' by one Guardian™-writing type.

Not that this was known, it was thought to have been Kent, but the clue's still on the pavement and the disused lido that was briefly home has been outrageously overlooked.

The  Tropicana once had the highest diving board in Britain and this one's dad has confessed to bottling it back in the 50s. Just as well, mum would just have called him a 'Daft b*gger!' Again.

  Bare Grills (Richmond Street)

Not because it's the 'Best Dang Burger Joint in the UK', recently amended to the 'Best Dang Smoke House in the South West', since neither can be commented on but because of the bare-faced ox-cheek of whoever came up with the name.

Oh! And there might be a Banksy™ on next door's wall.

Weston's famous sands are two miles long and when the tide's fully out, half that distance deep. That'll be the fault of the estuary that this is technically on and is when Weston-super-Mud opens for business.

The  Grand Pier, even at 1200 foot long, then struggles to reach the shoreline and doesn't even make the UK's top 10, length-wise.

It suffered the inevitable fire, this one as recently as 2008, that put paid to any end-of-the-pier show.

They've since rebuilt the pavilion whose neo-industrial interior is home to the neon of the 'musements and Tiffanys themed eaterie that, by the look of things, is all good old-skool afternoon teas and square dancing.

You have to pay for the pier, a pound-a-pop in a turnstile but a shivering attendant in high-vis might let you both on for a quid with a 'Don't you know it's nearly November?' look.

That 60s-looking eyesore looks to be what should be the council offices? Not so, it's Weston College of Further and Higher Education and one of the top ones in the country, they say.

The college has expanded to take over a fair bit of town including the old School of Science and Art, which dates from 1892 but was derelict by 2012.

The invasion also includes the, just passed and Interwar-era, Winter Gardens, bought for a nominal fee[1] having run at a loss for years.

Not that the nice bit is given over to studying, rather that's the ugly, 80s bit round the back, but the period part of it is still open to the public with a restored ballroom and 'fine-dining' in 'Lasseter's'  restaurant.

If only there was some kind of lazy connection to be made between students and watching  Neighbours[2], eh?

[1] The same amount for a pair of you on the pier with a generous attendant.
[2] Yes, it is still on.

  Meze Mazi (Oxford Street)

The Premier-like lodgings come with a dining provider attached but the temptation of a Burger Pie doesn't extend to two in a week.

Elsewhere it is, then, but it's always a worry when a waiter starts by explaining the 'concept'. Turns out this involves ticking boxes on a Greek meze menu for, get this, the dishes that you want. If you want two of anything, get this, tick twice.

It was tempting to ask in an equally bleedin' obvious manner, 'What about the ones you don't want?'

Sarcasm aside, this was surprisingly good and their home-made hummus had just the right lemony kick.

Heading north along Royal Parade towards the top of the bay gives a glimpse of Weston's, erm, budget accommodation providers and a font that's not been seen since the '50s.

A much bigger budget was required for the extensive restoration of this area of the seafront in 2011, £30million, no less! Since most of the work was actually to improve existing but flimsy flood defences,  Defra would cough for most of it.

With some spare change left over, a 25-foot-high drystone arch, obviously, was installed in the promenade wall and absolutely everybody will take exactly the same photograph from exactly the same spot.

  Duke of Oxford (Oxford Street)

Ideal for an 'aperitif' before your multiple-choice meze. Also ideal for a nightcap afterwards since everywhere else is empty or closed but remember, remember, it's nearly November!

A little further up, Knightstone Island used to be just that at high tide but they've since paved the way for access.

There's been swimming on here for 200 years, inside and out, and the concrete causeway has helped to create the imaginatively named Marine Lake, a safe haven for bathers that's topped up by the tide.

Just making it into the top there is the derelict Birnbeck Pier although the inevitable, taps nose, fire in 1897 wasn't what saw to it. No, storm damage this one, most recently in 2015 and they've done little with it since and by little, it's meant absolutely nothing.

Shame that as it's the  only pier in the UK to link to an actual island and its last act of usefulness was to act as inspiration for Banksy™'s Dismaland, possibly.

  Flat Holm Island

Speaking of islands, there's an hour-long boat trip to be done in summer to  Flat Holm, somewhere out in the Bristol Channel. Passports at the ready, it's the southernmost point in Wales and actually belongs to Cardiff.

It's also a Site of Special Scientific Interest and, as should be known by now, they don't hand them awards out willy-nilly.

Backtracking back to the arch, there's a complete change of scenery by cutting through a car park up to Royal Crescent.

It's a version of the bigger and more famous one in Bath and, funnily enough, that's where the lanky, alimony-paying  John Cleese now lives.

Bath, that is, but JC is Weston's best-known son if you discount convicted perjurer Jeffrey Archer who definitely just has been.

Inexplicably missing a short cut through Grove Park, Lower Church Street leads back to the college then into, what's presumed to be, the heart of the old town.

It's largely architecturally intact and there's an attempt to promote the independent shops on and around Orchard Street and Meadow Street as a Brighton-like 'lanes' shopping experience. Let's just say that, just like the Dolphin Square development and their  website, it's still a work in progress.

Returning to the front, the Italian Gardens is a fine open space but, sorry Weston, the modern shopping area could just about be anywhere. There is, however, a glimpse of something equally modern along Regent Street.

Speaking earlier of John Cleese and awkward, towering objects of fun, Silica is a piece of public art that's come to be known locally as the 'carrot'. Its intention wasn't to garner giggles but to provide shelter while you're waiting for a bus.

What with Dismaland, that drystone arch and now this, I don't know, you wait ages for one piece of 21st-century public artwork and then three come along together!

Well, give or take six years.