Alan Castle: Oh we do like to not be beside the seaside

I HAVE news which may come as a surprise to some readers – Alnwick is now classed as a seaside town.

You should be hearing, each and every day, the sound of waves crashing on the seashore and be able to walk out of your door and within a few minutes be treading barefoot on golden sands.

But don’t fear. Global warming hasn’t suddenly sent sea-levels soaring, swallowing up five miles of farmland between Alnwick and the coast.

It’s simply the result of another of those wonderful surveys, whose main purpose is to get the name of the company concerned into newspapers and other parts of the media.

I am sure you will have seen the type before – the most eligible bachelor, the most attractive bottom and so forth.

Well, it now appears that Alnwick, according to the Halifax, is one of the most expensive seaside resorts in Britain to live in.

This is only a suggestion, but it might have been wise for the brains behind this PR stunt to visit north Northumberland prior to penning this little gem of self-promotion.

They would have noticed that, although an excellent place to live, Alnwick is no seaside resort. In fact, the nearest the North Sea gets is at least four miles away.

The only sound you can associate with the coast in Alnwick is the occasional seagull flying overhead or, in years gone by, the distant honk, on a very quiet night, of the foghorn on Coquet Island.

Calling Alnwick a seaside town may be small a pointer to the accuracy of the survey. Perhaps it was the availability of excellent fish and chips which did it.

Not so, however. The official reason given by Halifax for the town’s new maritime status is that Alnwick is in ‘close proximity to the sea.’

If four or five miles is the benchmark for coastal, then that puts Shilbottle, Belford or, at a slight push, Felton, well among the whelks and periwinkles.

On a more disturbing note, though, does that also mean Alnmouth, Craster, Beadnell, Seahouses and Bamburgh are now beneath the waves?

I know the coast is rapidly eroding along some of the golf courses, but this is ridiculous.

That said, I do rather like the sound of the Costa del Coquet or the Aln Riviera – and think of the marketing opportunities for our tourist industry!

We could also, perhaps, use the Halifax rationale to our advantage.

I wonder what they would say if I owed £400 to the bank, pointing out that it was in ‘close proximity’ to my non-existing overdraft?

Sunk without a trace is the phrase that comes to mind.

ANOTHER hectic day and just after 5pm the other evening I sat down, outside, to have a cup of tea and enjoy the tranquility.

I must have been joking. No sooner had I sat down than a pair of young blackbirds landed on the lawn, the father appeared from under a hedge and the squawking that went on as they demanded food was very noisy to say the least.

The pair looked twice the size of the harassed, overworked parent. They eventually flew off after grabbing some food from the male, which he had gained from our bird table.

As they disappeared over the hedge, four young starlings appeared with two sets of parents.

They were so eager for food that they were diving onto the backs of the parents, loudly squawking all the time.

Such was the noise that I headed inside for peace. It was still a wonderful sight and an assurance that the next generation of our birds is alive and thriving.

Usually it is not right to feed birds at this time of year, but I am told by those who should know that this year they need all the help they can get.