A travel blog of Ireland, Europe, and New Zealand

The houseboats of Shoreham

While we were in Hove with Sarah and Chris, they took us by bus down to Shoreham, further down the coast. There is an unusual residential option there, consisting of a number of houseboats moored permanently in a tidal estuary. They will never put to sea again, I suspect; many are rotting away at the base, but still provide interesting forms of accommodation for the residents.

It was muddy when we walked along the ‘tow path’ to which the boats were moored, so we suspect their location would be more attractive when the tide was in, but it was still fascinating to see the ways that the residents had built around their various vessels. Many had wooden decks between the tow path and the boat, with barbecues, tables and chairs and the like. One even had the rather eccentric decoration of two yellow rubber gloves elevated on sticks, one with the middle finger of one hand ceremoniously raised towards the tow path and the other the standard ‘V’ sign, perhaps a coded message to the gawpers such as ourselves (and an entire tour group of young people from Eastern Europe we encountered as we headed back!)

While most of the boats were your standard old yacht or twin-hulled riverboat, there was one military vessel towering above the others. It may have been an old minesweeper but was still kitted out in its original grey, looking imposing amongst its humbler neighbours. Some had pretty flowers in pots on the decks; on the other side of the tow path, sloping down towards the permanent houses between the tow path and the sea, were small gardens, lawns or ‘allotments’ belonging to the boats. One noted, “This is the garden of Houseboat Tingle. It is private property.”

We left the tow path and walked up to the beachfront. As with most seafronts on this coast, it was stony rather than sandy, but Angus and I still had fun in a couple of small sandy bits writing his name in the sand and finding a couple of shells. Bruce and the others huddled in a wind-and-rain-swept group further up the shoreline! We then repaired to Shoreham township for a very nice Devonshire tea at Teddy’s Tea House, a charming restaurant with teddies, dolls and other children’s toys decorating the facility. (All photos can be clicked on to enlarge.)