Shoreham-by-Sea: where warships go to rest.

On a sunny summer weekend, the trains south from London are packed with holiday makers heading for the shingle beaches of the English Channel coast. Most of the revellers are heading for the Brighton-Hove agglomeration, that Ibiza of the Home Counties, where every inch of beach is as precious as real estate in South Kensington. Those more savvy are going further West, towards Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, or maybe even Southampton. A few will reach as far as the Isle of Wight.

What most of them will miss is a tiny, sleepy, incredibly ancient town of Shoreham-by-Sea,    halfway between Brighton and Worthing. With known history stretching all the way to pre-Roman times, with some of the oldest churches and the oldest secular building in England, a lovely and broad beach-that-tourists-forgot,  an RSPB reserve and a vibrant farmers market, Shoreham-by-Sea would already have enough attractions for a busy day out. But it has something else, something that makes it unique among all quiet coast towns of England: the house boats on the Adur Riverbank.

Concrete lighter from the period of war-time metal scarcity

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A different Vienna, part 1 – the Flakturms, or “Don’t Mention Ze War!”

(I’ve been to Vienna last week. This is the first of my impressions of the city.)

Flakturm V looming over Hofburg Gardens

You’d be forgiven to miss them on the map. They are not marked in any way, other than the pale pink of ‘some building’. You’d be forgiven to miss them in a guide, as they are not listed under the main attractions of the city – of which there are many (except one of them, on which more below).

But you should not miss them while standing anywhere within quarter of a mile from these dread-inspiring constructions. Fifty meters tall and forty meters wide, these blocks of solid concrete stand out not just like sore thumbs, but like entire sole limbs, looming over some of the more picturesque parts of the city. Just try to go to Augarten park and ignore their existence (as does everyone else around you). It’s impossible.Read More »