Our AirBnB was so comfortable for our first night, it forced us to have a bit of a lie in. We were just that bit too far from the coast to hear the sea, as it was such a calm day. However, with the door open we could feel the warm westerly breeze, hear it as it passed through the trees and the garden birds making the most of the last warm days of late summer.
"Doing nothing" on our first full day meant taking our car down to Shore Road which follows the line of sandy beach where there is sea front parking. The cost for four hours here, in season, is £6.50, and if you can park close enough to the town this is worth every penny so that not only can you enjoy the panorama of the bay but you can use the car as a base to run forays into town to explore or to shop.
The purpose of going on holiday is to forget things and when you open your backpacks or suitcases you invariably find you have. The Swanage retail scene is a good mix of independent locally owned outlets on the main streets or tucked away in narrow lanes and national chains. Whatever you forgot you will be able to find.
ENJOYING DOING NOTHING IN SWANAGE
Any holiday should have at least one period of planned 'doing nothing' and if you are lucky enough to be able to grab any spontaneous periods of 'doing nothing' then enjoy them.
Our own planned period of 'doing nothing' included passive activities such as watching and listening to the sea less than 20 meters away, watching people go by, catching snatches of their passing conversations, watching dogs play on the beach and by submitting to the urge to just drift off to sleep.
Slightly less passive 'doing nothing' involves reading and part of our holiday routine here involves visiting the charity shops such as Sue Ryder, number 1 on the map, and OXFAM, number 2 on the map. We did not have any luck at the Sue Ryder shop so made the short walk to OXFAM. This outlet specializes in secondhand books, is highly organised and well merchandised
Then there is The Swanage Bookshop, number 3 on the map. I would like to put a link in this piece to it's website but I can't because it doesn't have one which is part of it's charm. Outside there are bargain boxes of books for 50 pence or £1. Inside there are shelves and shelves of books both second hand and new. They are merchandised in sections and this is another part of the charm. You have to look through the shop carefully to read the labels marking each section: History, Classics, Biography etc and this is where you might come across a deviation from the Dewey system. In the History section were books on wars, royalty and politics. Tucked in among the volumes on navies was Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian, which although it is set in the days of Lord Nelson, is still fiction.
On the way back to the car from The Swanage Bookshop we popped into Haymans Bakers back in Institute Road to buy a couple of baguettes and a loaf of bread. All of the bake products are made on site and so are fresh daily. There is a small sit down area if you want to eat in. From what we could see the place was spotlessly clean and the team behind the counter were friendly and efficient. Our total bill was £6 which was really good value for money for quality produce.
After lunch in the car we went for a walk along the front to the Brook Tea Rooms, number 5 on the map. When we first started visiting Swanage this place was run by a gentleman from Boston, in America. The food was always good, and good value for money. The service was always good as well. The place is under new ownership and I am afraid to say that it is nowhere near what it was like. No friendly welcome, they take cash only and after lunch service they close off the inside dining room forcing customers to sit outside. Being outside in this part of Swanage up until lunch time customers can enjoy the sunshine. However, as the cafe faces north 'outside' after lunch is in the shade and at the back end of the summer being in the shade can be too cold for comfort. We have crossed this one off of our list until we can see visible improvements away from British hospitality at its most average.
We bought a couple of more hours parking and then when they were up we moved on to Durlston Castle, where we ended our day of 'doing nothing.'