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Carry on cruising will be boost for our town

By This is Devon  |  Posted: November 18, 2010

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WHAT'S it all about that's what I want to know. On one hand we have the unexpected windfall of potentially thousands of visitors from the gigantic cruise liners that it would appear will be anchored off our fair port this summer.

On the other hand we might well lose out on thousands of jobs courtesy of the Atlantic Array unless we can get an outer breakwater built pretty sharpish.

Well that's a laugh for a start. Now I don't mean to continually be a wet blanket where all things Ilfracombe are concerned but when did anything to do with planning or construction ever happen sharpish in our little town.

The Berkeley Hotel continues to fester for yet another year, the old arcade site stays very much a blank spot on the canvas of any proposed development and it now appears the only thing holding up the Collingwood Hotel is the scaffolding we actually had the audacity to think was a herald of work on the elderly girl starting shortly.

Silly old us.

The Montebello is still an 'orrible blot, regardless of the colourful hoarding, which despite reports to the contrary I do believe was erected single-handedly by Sally Nelson. That woman just gets everywhere.

The Bus Station rambles on like a bad joke with a lousy punch line and as for the Cliffe Hydro; well my grand-kids might as well put their name down for that particular retirement complex because sure as shooting they will be senior citizens by the time it ever gets completed.

Now, all of a sudden we have to knock up a quick outer breakwater to give safe refuge to ships supplying the requirements for the building of those giant offshore wind turbines.

Just off the top of my head why can't we build an offshore nuclear power station instead?

Then if it did happen to go into a "China Syndrome-style" melt down it would at least warm the water up a bit and we could all bathe in tropical climes until our hair fell out.

OK probably not, we'd have nowhere to store the depleted uranium rods except a couple of fishermen's huts. It was just a thought, back to the plot.

The thing of it is, the outer breakwater has been considered an essential part of any regeneration in Ilfracombe for the best part of 30 years now and you may well have spotted the fact that this grandiose scheme has got exactly nowhere very rapidly.

Obviously several feasibility studies would be needed right from the get-go but more importantly a very full and thorough oceanographic survey would have to be carried out to attempt an estimation of the effect this construction would have on tidal flows and the impact of any erosion problems envisaged along what is after all a delicate and environmentally protected coastline. Not an easy job by anybody's standards and certainly not one to be carried out in the merest hint of time.

This is not to say that ultimately a project of this magnitude could not be realised but I have to suggest my aforementioned grand-kids could well be enjoying a chilled rum-punch in deck chairs sitting on the balcony of their recently completed retirement home at the Cliffe Hydro before it comes to fruition.

Still, on yet another hand, and sometimes I find myself somewhat surprised by just how many hands I have, every little helps as Tesco are fond of reminding us.

Those cruise ships could well be something of a blessing. The potential for some of those thousands of passengers descending on us and spending a bit of cash around the place will certainly not do us any harm whatsoever.

And who knows, they might just go home with glowing reports about our little town and start a domino effect to bring even more visitors to our tiny corner of the world.

AND now, as I am very fond of quoting courtesy of Monty Python, for something completely different.

LLW and I had occasion recently to take a trip to Birmingham. For this rather extraordinary excursion we decided to let the train take the strain and the whole thing was carried out with almost military precision.

A swift sneak and peek; insertion at 12.30 hours and extraction at 16.30 hours with an RV of Birmingham New Street Station. No fall back on this particular occasion so it really was a do-or-die effort.

Well, even Napoleon couldn't have planned it better. We arrived at the extraction point with only seconds to spare, in fact the guard had already blown his whistle as we bundled ourselves through his open door and made our way to our reserved seats.

There we were confronted by our table-opposed travelling cohorts for the next couple of hours.

The woman was diminutive and elf-like, looking for all the world like something from a Christmas card, without the pointy hat of course. Her male comrade was white haired and desperately trying to control a speech impediment. Nice.

As it turned out they could not possibly have been more charming travelling companions. This was mainly because they had the same fondness for hedgehogs as LLW and I. And then the little lady said something completely off the wall.

"How do they get on with your Faeries," she wanted to know. To be honest I was stunned and amazed to say the least of it. "How did you know I had Faeries?" I asked.

"It was merely an educated guess," she said, "you just seem like the type."

Well, there's no answer to that is there? I think this year I might just get myself a pointy hat for Christmas.

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