A summer holiday squeezed into three days

bank holiday
Making the most of Bank Holiday and hiding from the crowds with a quiet paddle off Back Beach. Photo by Tom Stroud

AFTER a winter that dragged and dragged, I was determined to make the most of the first sight of summer over the Bank Holiday weekend.

And it seems I wasn’t alone; the town was teeming with visitors soaking up the sunshine on the hottest early May Bank Holiday on record. Aside from Red Arrows Day, Lyme Regis must have been the busiest I have ever seen it.

After waiting so long for the sunshine I think it all went to our heads a bit; it was as if we had to squeeze a whole summer holiday into three days. After all, that might be all we get.

Summer dresses, flip flops, bikinis and beach towels were promptly pulled from the back of my wardrobe and I was ready to spend every second of the weekend outside, paddling on the beaches both in Lyme and Exmouth, live music in the Standard’s beer garden, a barbecue with friends and I even made my first attempt at fishing during a boat trip off Beer (unsuccessful, I might add!).

There was also the Fossil Festival and Blessing of the Boats to cover, both attracting huge crowds.

I know some residents steer clear of the seafront from May to September. For me the hustle and bustle and big events are all part of what makes Lyme Regis such a vibrant town to live in. But as I frantically searched for a parking space outside my house on Sunday and then battled through the seafront crowds to get to my next job on time, feeling like a salmon swimming upstream, there was no arguing that Lyme was fit to burst.

Parked cars lined the entrances to the town, the last remaining cash point inevitably ran out of money, traffic ground to a halt and litter was strewn across the seafront by the end of the day. The mayor said Lyme was lucky to have so many people wanting to visit, but if the town is going to continue attracting bigger and bigger numbers every year, it has to have the infrastructure and resources in place to deal with them.

One reader this week suggested that the town council should make long-term plans to deal with the surge in tourism and look at “data-driven evidence to make decisions on the basis of numbers and analysis rather than guesswork and past experience”. Perhaps not a bad idea.

I hope we’ll see improved forward planning and better communication between our local authorities to resolve issues such as parking and waste collection before half term later this month – don’t hold your breath on the park and ride though!

(As a side note, if anyone’s wondering where that new cash point we were promised has got to, we’re waiting on BT to install a phone line.)

The Lyme Bay café bar opened its doors over the Bank Holiday weekend with a stylish new interior

It’s all about indulgence this summer!

It was also a busy weekend for the latest addition to Lyme’s growing ‘foodie’ scene, The Lyme Bay, formerly The French Lieutenant’s Bistro, which opened just in time for the Bank Holiday madness – talk about being thrown in the deep end!

 I enjoyed a coffee on their sun-drenched terrace over the weekend and returned for lunch later in the week when it was a bit less manic, opting for the sausage sandwich (you can’t go wrong with a sausage sandwich) and a side of chunky chips – it more than filled a hole.

The new owners have kept the open kitchen and wooden bar, but ditched the dark carpet and wallpaper for a bright and stylish rustic look; exposed brickwork and floorboards, walls full of modern art and old school chairs and tables adorned with wildflowers.

With glimpses of the new-look Pilot Boat Inn starting to appear on social media, new owners Uprising Bakehouse making paces at Lyme’s famed Town Mill Bakery, and the trendy SWIM already expanding its empire into nearby West Bay with the purchase of the Riverside Restaurant, you might as well forget the ‘bikini body’, it’s all about indulgence this summer. 

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