The Cliff End Hotel, Bournemouth
Some months ago I purchased an Ion PICS 2 SD scanner, with the aim of converting all of my old photographs and negatives into digital format. I’ve not made a huge amount of progress so far, but I did come across a number of photographs taken one October half term in the late 1970s at the Cliff End Hotel in Bournemouth (or Boscombe, to be precise).
I think one of the reasons that I remember that holiday so vividly is for three specific firsts.
Usually, our holidays involved caravanning expeditions (usually to Wales or Scotland) rather than staying in hotels. If this wasn’t the first time I’d stayed in a hotel (I’m fairly sure an October break in Blackpool to see the illuminations pre-dated this occasion), then it was certainly the first time my brother and I had been old enough to have a room separate from our parents. I’m certain that it was the first time (and quite probably the last) that I’d eaten oxtail as a main course rather than as an ingredient in a soup (!) and most importantly for the development of my future career, I’m also certain that it was the first time that I ever bought a copy of Practical Electronics magazine.
Other things I remember from the hotel was the games room with its pinball table (and not realising that there were flippers on the side to keep the ball in play), the bar with its strange red PVC chairs and glitter ball as well as the slightly intimidating reception desk and clock. One of the highlights of the holiday was visiting the motor museum at Beaulieu. I remember with great fondness the enthusiasm of my father for all of the exhibits and the realisation now that he’d have probably enjoyed the whole experience a lot more without me and my brother constantly sniping at each other.
Having such fond memories, I decided to have a quick search on the interwebs to see what the place was like today – and perhaps seeing about staying there the next time I ended up working in or around Dorset. I quickly discovered there was a significant problem with that plan …
and perhaps most interesting and sad of all, a report and set of photographs on an urban exploration website from 2009.
So in the words of Bill Bryson:
There are things you just can’t do in life. You can’t beat the phone company, you can’t make a waiter see you until he’s ready to see you, and you can’t go home again.