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Published: July 30th 2019
With a nice, warn day in prospect, Helen and Anna decided to join Amelia, Gareth and Catherine on the beach, swimming and sunbathing, whilst I visited the Swanage steam railway which runs from just north of Corfe Castle to Swanage. For reasons which will become clear, this day will be henceforth known as the 'Initial car parking machine contretemps'.
The car park at Norden, at the north end of the railway, is the one recommended for visitors, and is around 22 miles from Boscombe by road. If you take the Sandbanks chain ferry it cuts off around 15 miles. I was really looking forward to taking it, but it was broken, so the long way round it had to be. All went well until I left the A34 to head into Wareham, and immediately hit the back of a traffic jam. The next two miles took 40 minutes, and there was no obvious reason for this, so I was mildly put out by the time I reached Norden. Plenty of car parking spaces were available so I parked up and headed for the pay machine. Two cyclists there informed me that the contactless option wasn't working. This was a problem
as I didn't have the requisite £4.20 in change. Nonetheless, I tried it buy they were right. neither was the chip and pin slot reader working. The copious instructions informed me that I could download a 'Justpark' app and pay that way. Problem is, I don't have a smartphone. The only remaining option was to call the 'phone to pay' number. Doing this I got a recorded message informing me there was a problem with this service and they couldn't take payment that way. Just at this point someone said that the train was leaving in 5 minutes. Out of options, and very annoyed by this time, I went back to the car for my camera and headed for the station intending to tell the staff there that I was unable to pay for parking. Next problem, the railway doesn't manage the car park - that's the responsibility of Hampshire Council, so I just had to fume and hope I didn't get a ticket, but I would have enjoyed contesting it if I had!
I partly enjoyed the train journey, although it was very hot, and I was fretting over the parking debacle, so at Swanage instead of looking
round and catching a different train back I came straight back, trying hard to enjoy the wonderful scenery around Corfe Castle. Back in the car I decided to drive down to Swanage and have a look around the town there. This led to the second parking contretemps of the day!
I found a large, pretty full car park and managed to find a space. I queued up at the machine which I noted rather ominously, was the same type and owner as the one at Norden. Again it wanted several pounds for three hours stay but and my turn came I quickly scanned the complicated set of instructions for paying by contactless card. This involved choosing the payment option, pressing a + button several times depending on how many hours you wanted (in my case 3), then swiping your card, then pressing confirm and hey presto, about half an hour later it would present you with a ticket. These instructions I followed faithfully, but under pressure, aware of the increasing length of queue behind me, but when I came to press the accept button I realised that it had charged me for 5 hours, not 3. I couldn't see
how to undo this so ended up paying for extra time I knew I would never use. Bad start number 2!
Hot and bothered, and by this time well past lunchtime, I looked for a pub to get some refreshment. The 'Red Lion' took my fancy with its promise of cask ale so I went into the bar and examined the beer options. The tasting notes suggested that B.F.G. would suit me so I ordered a pint after waiting what seemed an interminable length of time behind just two people who seemed to be ordering drinks for a coach party! Eventually I was handed my pint and invited to pay £4.70 for the privilege! I nearly passed out, I've never drunk any beer as expensive per fluid ounce as that. Goodness knows what is in it. After that, and I made it last as you might imagine, I took a turn around the town and very pretty it is too. The (free) museum by the waterfront was interesting and had a special WW2 theme. Even an out of the way place like Swanage received the unwelcome attention of the Luftwaffe and several buildings were damaged or destroyed and several people killed.
The journey back to Boscome was, thankfully, much quicker that that going and once regrouped we recounted our days adventures to each other. Seemingly, the day spent relaxing on the beach had been a pleasant time and had the advantage of not involving any parking ticket rage.
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