Having said all there is to say about Skegness, Brit continues his Dabbler tour of England’s seaside towns with a visit to Ilfracombe…

There’s a nice little new aquarium in the Devon seaside town of Ilfracombe which takes you down, tank by tank, from the source of the Taw to the sea and to Lundy. I’ve always liked aquaria, there’s a deep peace in those tanks. However, I can’t say I recommend a trip to Ilfracombe when you’re battling a hangover and a howling gale is blowing. If your head is fugged and pounding there are probably better trips. And there’s a decent possibility that a gull will steal your chips.

In Ilfracombe the shop shelves are spattered all with tat. The drizzle-sodden westerly will whip away your hat. The sea’s a touch too churning when you’re feeling out of sorts. The bolder of the tourists sport anorak and shorts. In Ilfracombe the cliffs are grey, the sea around them slops. Damien Hirst’s café/restaurant is a slap across the chops. In Ilfracombe the cliffs are grey, not white like those of Dover. In Ilfracombe, in Ilfracombe. In Ilfracombe, hungover.


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  1. David on Tuesday 15, 2011

    “There’s a nice little new aquarium in the Devon seaside town of Ilfracombe which takes you down, tank by tank, from the source of the Taw to the sea and to Lundy.”

    This is a very nice sentence, and I particularly like the use of the Biblical verse as a unifying construct for the essay.

  2. Worm on Tuesday 15, 2011

    I note from Wikipedia that the name Ilfracombe was derived from Norse illf (bad), Anglo-Saxon yfel (evil ford) and Anglo-Saxon cumb (valley or bottom), thus ‘The valley with the bad ford’. Oh well, at least it inspires good blog posts

  3. David on Tuesday 15, 2011

    Indeed, Brit has in this short essay captured the existential crisis of the modern, alienated as we are from the solace of both nature and God.

    • Brit on Tuesday 15, 2011

      Cheers mate.

  4. Gaw on Tuesday 15, 2011

    Wonderful.

  5. John Halliwell on Tuesday 15, 2011

    Lovely. I now look forward to Brit’s lament for St Ives. In the meantime:

    As I was going to St Ives
    I met a man with seven wives
    Every wife had seven sacks
    Every sack had seven cats
    Every cat had seven kits
    Kits, cats, sacks, wives
    How many were going to St Ives?

  6. Nick Cohen on Tuesday 15, 2011

    Do you know that only yesterday I was looking for property for sale in Ilfracombe? (You don’t, of course. How could you?) I can’t afford to buy a house there, I was just trying to find a way to avoid getting on with my work. Still, spooky, eh?

    • Brit on Tuesday 15, 2011

      Nick! Talking of coincidences, I’m currently working on a sonnet to the mini-roundabouts of Islington.

  7. Susan on Tuesday 15, 2011

    Sounds like all that saltwater has gone to your head, Brit? Suggest you install yourself in Mr Hirst’s Atlantic Room with the window open – and await a reviving slap on the chops from a crashing wave…