The glimpse of the sea from our hotel room also reveals construction cranes working close to the new artificial surf reef – Europe’s first – being built near to Boscombe pier. It’s nearing completion, and has already helped to generate eight-foot waves earlier in the year. There’s no reason why surfing shouldn’t be a retirement pastime, but it will probably have the effect of lowering the average age of Bournemouth’s inhabitants still further.
Along the coast to the west, Brownsea Island sits at the mouth of Poole harbour, the world’s second largest natural harbour after Sydney. It belongs to the National Trust now and is all peacocks and cream teas, as well being undeniably beautiful and relaxing.
The island looks out on to Sandbanks, a sandy spit of some of the country’s most expensive properties that looks sure to disappear one stormy night when rising sea levels have taken grip. John Lennon bought his Aunt Mimi a bungalow here in the 1960s, now demolished and replaced by a glassy residence with a swimming pool on the ground floor. I can’t quite imagine Aunt Mimi going for that. David Beckham, the story goes, sold his house there almost as soon as he’d bought it because photographers took up residence on the public beach at the bottom of his garden. Poor old Dave.