My first stop was Asda to park the van while I went down to the camera shop to complete Operation Camera Card - and it still pained me to part with so much cash for one - then I hit the Yarmouth bypass and headed south. My next stop should have been Lowestoft but on the spur of the moment I decided to go to Gorleston on the way there - my one and only previous visit there had been back in 1980-whatever and I didn't really remember much about it other than it was only a small place. And I have to say that my first impressions weren't good; following the signs for the seafront I passed round the edge of the little town and emerged by the river with the docks over the far side. Ahead and to the right was an ugly brick-built tower which looked like an old mill chimney and near its base was a grotty-looking amusement arcade, a mini market and a couple of grey depressing-looking buildings which may or may not have been houses. A bit further on the road went round to the right and opened up to a small car park on the left with the Pier Hotel on the corner and something which could possibly have been a bingo hall; across the road was another amusement place and behind that the very old-fashioned looking Pavilion Theatre which looked like something from Edwardian times. To be honest, even in the sunshine the whole place looked like a complete dump and I wasn't impressed. A bit further on however, things began to look a little better, and willing to give the place the benefit of the doubt I found a parking space and set out to explore.
Just past the theatre and on the seaward side of the road was a very pleasant public garden, crossed by paths running from each corner and with a bandstand in the centre, and further on still was a nice looking row of white painted buildings which housed a couple of cafes, a takeaway, an ice cream parlour, gift shop and amusement arcade. The road widened out there and ended at a barrier which separated it from the rest of the promenade which had been pedestrianised; over on the beach was a children's play area, a model boat pond and a paddling pool. The promenade was backed by a high grass bank - you couldn't really call it a cliff - which was traversed by paths and steps, and up at the top were some very nice promenade gardens and brightly planted flower beds. So although the initial approach to the seafront left a lot to be desired the rest of the place was really quite nice and it had certainly been worth taking a look.
The next stop on my agenda was Lowestoft; I'd mainly been round it on my travels though on one occasion I'd made the mistake of going through it, and now as I sat for ages in a queue of traffic waiting for the bridge to open and close I began to wonder if this was a good idea, but having only hazy memories of a long ago visit to the beach I was curious to see what the place looked like. I had quite a distance to drive from there to the next place on my list so this would only be a cursory visit - if I liked what I saw then I could make a longer visit another time. Following the 'seafront' and 'parking' signs brought me to a long and very pleasant row of bay windowed terraced houses facing the sea, with lawned areas and a large car park in front; I had no problem finding a space so with just an hour on my ticket I set off to explore.
First was a walk by the beach, and though I would have liked to take some photos of all the brightly coloured beach huts they were so close together and had so many of their occupants sitting outside that I felt like I would have been invading their privacy so I abandoned that idea. At the end of the last row of huts was a path and some steps leading to the top of the cliff so I went up there and came out on the upper promenade and close to the entrance of a small park. With a couple of photos snapped I made my way back in the direction of the van, and I have to say I was very impressed with the promenade. It was wide, pedestrianised, with pink tarmac, and had some nice gardens situated along part of it, while the backs (or fronts, I'm not sure which) of a row of hotels in the adjacent road had gardens with outside eating areas where members of the public could dine or have a coffee - it reminded me very much of being abroad somewhere.
This place was definitely worth exploring properly and when I got back to the van I did have the thought that I could get another car park ticket and stay for longer, but if I didn't go to the next place on my list I probably never would - Lowestoft wasn't that far from Yarmouth so it would be easy enough to make a return visit in the not too distant future. So with the decision made I put the dogs back in the van and set off on the next part of my journey.