I first went to Angmering after the war. My grandparents lived there and we used to spend time there in the summer. In those days there were no such things as beach furniture or pic-nic equipment. We had an ex army camp bed and a rug to sit on and we had a primus stove to boil a kettle. I had a bathing costume made from small squares with elastic sewn on the back, when you went in the water it would fill with air and balloon up, so you had to squash it back in place. I was 10 before I could swim, so I used a rubber ring. I can remember crabbing in the rock pools. There used to be lots of crabs and fish to catch then. When the tide was very low we could walk out to the black rocks, said to be the remains of a church from a flooded village where there were some very large shrimps.
Most people can remember their childhood as being full of sunny days, I can remember those, but I can also remember sitting with my back to a groin sheltering from the howling wind. There was no television to go back to and we were on 'holiday'. When the weather got really bad we would head inland to a disused chalk pit for our pic-nic lunch. Our lunches were always the same, or so it seemed shepherds pie wrapped up in towls to keep them warm - no insulating bags in those days. We used to get tar on everything, there does not seem to be so much nowadays.
One day when we were sitting on the beach a plane came over us and crashed into the sea. The pilot was killed, I can remember everyone on the beach standing up. Apparently the plane had got into trouble and the pilot flew it into the sea rather than crash on the beach which is those days was always crowded. At low tide everyone went down to the beach to inspect the wreckage and I met a school friend of mine who was also on holiday, she introduced me to her brother, who I married many years later.
When we were on the beach we used to watch with envy the people in the beach huts. About 30 years ago when we were on a family holiday with our children we saw the huts were up for sale and brought one for £1000. Our family used it and now our grandchildren are enjoying it. About that time they installed new breakwaters and gradually the beach has grown, now you can't see onto the beach from the huts which you used to be able to do. Angmering is not the most fashionable or beautiful beach but it is our beach. We toter over the stones, I used to be able to run on them, swim in the sea, sometimes wading through piles of seaweed and once I came face to face with a seal in front of the Blue Peter.
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