Author of Seaside100 Kathryn Ferry tells us how to get the best outof the seaside in these difficult circumstances.

Sadly, the fact is that if you don’t already live by the beach you shouldn’t be going there while we’re all subject to the Covid-19 lockdown. As a historian who specialises in writing about the seaside, I’ve missed out on a few nice coastal trips but the trickiest one was not being able to get to Brighton to launch my new book Seaside 100: A history of the British Seaside in 100 Objects.

Seaside 100 by Kathryn Ferry

Seaside 100 by Kathryn Ferry

Like lots of authors faced with the challenge of promoting a finished product they’ve spent many, many hours working on, I’ve had to get creative and social media has been a real godsend for telling people about my book. I decided that if I couldn’t get to the seaside then I would have to bring the seaside to me. With my efforts at more conventional home schooling meeting with mixed success (one son actually told me I’m not a very good teacher, so he’s learnt that much at least) I got my three kids involved in making things for my seaside project.

I began with the contents list of my book. The 100 objects are arranged in roughly chronological order to tell the story of seaside history through the things we associate with coastal holidays. Some of them are the sort of objects you might find in a museum but I took liberties with the ‘object’ title and also included buildings, food and animals, or at least one animal, because you can’t talk about the traditional seaside experience without mentioning donkeys. I tried to find a donkey among the farm animals under my son’s bed but in the end had to settle for a picture to add to my seaside display. The idea was that I would put together as many of my objects as possible into a miniature resort in my living room. This would then become the UK’s newest seaside destination of ‘At Home-on-Sea’.

My eldest son made me a pier out of Lego and my twins helped turn cardboard and crepe paper into ice creams. The box of junk modelling stuff really came into its own when we made fish and chips out of bubble wrap and upholstery sponge from an old sofa. I even persuaded my husband to fill up some plant pots with cement mix so I could have a permanent sandcastle to add to my beach. We put a blue blanket down on the floor for the sea and when I did a count we’d managed to get 30 of my objects into the set up. I could have my seaside book launch after all!

The videos of #athomeonsea that I shared on social media were really well received and I hope our efforts raised a few smiles at this difficult time. In the end the process of making out mini-resort was way more fun that a normal book launch would have been so who knows what I’ll attempt next time! For now, I’d like to think my book is reminding readers of the many seaside treats they have to look forward to once all this is over.

Kathryn’s book ‘Seaside 100: A History of the British Seaside in 100 Objects’ is published by Unicorn, price £14.99

@SeasideFerry #Seaside100 #athomeonesea