Thursday, 30 August 2012

One final look at Lyme’s 
busiest summer

HERE we are again, the end of August. 

After another busy Bank Holiday weekend, visitors return home, children go back to school, traffic calms, the sand is raked over,  everything goes back to normal and I write my final column of the year.

Sigh of relief or disappointment? For me, I think it’s a little of both. 

The few months I look forward to each year always seem to fly by but, despite the mostly disappointing weather, this year’s busy programme of summertime events has really kept me on my toes.

Although I didn’t start writing this column until June, summer in Lyme really started at the beginning of May with the Fossil Festival. I’m not a fossil fanatic myself but this festival brings thousands into town from far and wide, and saw the Marine Parade shelters transformed into the town’s very own “airport” with flights to the ancient Pangea. What a way to kick the season off.

It was then May Day Bank Holiday and, soon enough, the Royal Navy were in town bringing all the pomp and ceremony that was beginning to sweep the country to Lyme. We excitedly welcomed our special guests ashore, along with the first cruise passengers ever to stop in town. 

The Jazz, Blues and Beer Festival was next, bringing colour and music to the town as the annual Umbrella Parade made its way through the streets.

Then it was upon us, the big one - Diamond Jubilee weekend. Many of us had been looking forward to the extended Bank Holiday weekend celebrating the Queen’s 60 years on the throne for months. With the Royal Navy’s recent visit still the talk of the town, how could we top it? But who knew Lyme would pull off its ambitious five-day programme of events with such success?

This weekend brought me my highlight of the summer - joining the Mayor and our visiting Chelsea Pensioners on their boat for the sail past and salute. Lyme’s seafaring community really went all out for this -  dressing up, decorating their boats and waving flags from over 70 vessels, the most Lyme has seen at once in living memory. 

I couldn’t quite believe how many people wanted to be a part of the jubilee celebrations and, as a non-sailor, it was fantastic to have the chance to be among them.

And then the five days came to a soggy close and we sighed with relief. A few quieter weeks and smaller events - a boat launch, Thanksgiving Day - and then I was off for a week to sunny Majorca.

July came and it was full steam ahead again. Summer events started to come around quickly - fetes, flower shows and even a flood! Then, on what can only be described as the wettest day of all time, a flickering flame arrived in the rain and drew cheers from thousands. 

Looking back on it, the Olympic Torch day seems like such a bizarre event. So many of us lined up, soaked through and still smiling and cheering - laughing even at how ridiculous it all was. I could have jumped in the sea and not been any wetter!

The Real Relay passed through with much more subtlety and then, suddenly, Lifeboat Week was upon us, bringing us the Red Bull Harbour Reach, RAF Falcons and Red Arrows, among other favourite events.

The first Lyme Lympics were held with success and Regatta & Carnival Week followed with another nine days of family fun, topping the major summer events off with the annual carnival procession.

It all came to a close this weekend with Candles on the Cobb. The wind dropped just in time for this emotional spectacular. Five thousand candles lit along the Cobb wall, fireworks, flares and... “summer’s over”, I thought. 

It was a poignant end to my favourite season and the busiest summer I have ever known in Lyme. 

Now all the things I associate with autumn are coming around. We have ArtsFest to look forward to this September, council meetings have returned to their regular calendar and the East Devon carnival circuit will keep me and the other View reporters busy over the coming weekends.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed your summer as much as me and (one final plug) to keep you going until next year, my Summertime in Lyme photo book is still on sale at the Tourist Information Centre and Serendip Bookshop for just £3.50.

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