Calling Timberteers on the south coast of England

by Maria on April 18, 2013

I’ve recently moved from Edinburgh to Bournemouth for a couple of months.Bournemouth is a bit tattier than I’d expected. I reckon 25% of the shop fronts nearby are vacant and the three hair salons I walk past each morning never seem to have more than one customer at a time. But the summer crowds aren’t yet here, and we have the gloriously long beach front to run and cycle along. And there’s always the breath-takingly odd New Forest national park just down the road. It’s like taking a trip back to childhood to round a New Forest corner at fifteen miles an hour and come face to face with a winter-coated donkey. Make the mistake of stopping the car and he’ll edge cheekily up to the window, baring his teeth to beg a free snack.

Bournemouth has a great system of public gyms, and as I’m on a short hiatus from paid employment (using the unexpected gift of 12 free weeks to write) I’ve discovered the wonder of daytime exercise classes. There is something utterly joyous about being at least ten years below the median age of a spinning session, and constantly dialing the bike down to keep up.

But being out of the army-wife bubble is hard. I won’t be going to two or three coffee mornings, then hosting my own and, hey presto, have met most of my local friends already. Last week, the only in-person conversation I had that wasn’t ‘here’s your change’ and ‘thanks very much’ was a rapidly-spinning-into-enthusiastically-shared-interests chat about steampunk with a guy in the Espresso Kitchen café. (I was re-reading Felix Gilman’s The Rise of Ransom City, and scribbling notes for the upcoming CT seminar on same.) Espresso Guy and I got to wondering if there are other kindred spirits about, and whether they might like to meet up for some rather excellent coffee in The Triangle in Bournemouth.

So, are there any CT readers on the south coast who would like to meet up at Espresso Kitchen at some point over the next week or so? Purely social agenda in mind, for chats about politics, books, and how nice it is that the People’s Republic of Tory have finally stopped broadcasting Thatcherite hagiography eight hours a day. The café can open late or serve food, and they’re open to hosting readings, book clubs, or just a few like-minded souls having a natter.



MPAVictoria 04.18.13 at 3:19 pm

Hi Maria. This is something I can completely sympathize with. It is hard to move to a new place and start building all of those social networks again from scratch. I don’t live on the South coast of England but if I did I would be very happy to meet for coffee. Good luck!


Billy Gannon 04.18.13 at 4:23 pm

Hello… I drifted down to Bournemouth five years ago (with my partner and our daughter). I’ll put it to you this way… during the last petrol crisis, the worst county in the UK for queues outside garage forecourts was Dorset – and the worst town in Dorset for queues was Bournemouth.
That said there is a League of Steampunks in Bournemouth. I met a whole load of them at the last Boscombe Art Market. There are some things going on but it’s not very obvious.
More than happy to talk over coffee.


Andrew Fisher 04.18.13 at 7:25 pm

I’m in the next County along – Hampshire – but unfortunately the far end of it so a bit far for a coffee.

Best of luck.


Billy Gannon 04.18.13 at 7:52 pm

Here’s the link to the Facebook group for the League of Bournemouth Steampunks:
I’m not really in to Steampunk stuff – but thought it’d be handy for you to know!


Kevin O'Connor 04.19.13 at 8:45 am

Love to.

I’ve been saving up Ransom City. I was hugely impressed by Half-Made World. And I see you think Among Others is gorgeous. Isn’t it just?

I’ve been meaning to give that coffee place a try. I work my own hours so any time.


Tony Lynch 04.19.13 at 10:46 am

COME ON (#2’s lukewarm invitation aside) There must be someone!


James Camien McGuiggan 04.19.13 at 6:37 pm

I know Edinburgh well, and Southampton, my new town, sounds really a lot like Bournemouth. However I have been meaning to make it down there, and will make a point of letting you know when I do; this won’t be in the next week, though, as I’m pretty busy at the moment. But it’s absolutely conceivable that it’ll happen in the next two months.

I checked your CT profile; I’m a philosopher of art, so we might have to search for common ground, but, sure aren’t us Irish not at all bad at the banter, it’ll be grand. :)


Billy Gannon 04.19.13 at 7:54 pm

Hey… I’m Irish too. How about some time in early May? I’m just an office grunt – but I’m keen on the arts.


Maria 04.20.13 at 10:15 am

Hi MPAVictoria, do you live in Melbourne by any chance? I was there over New Years and am willing to belatedly kick myself for not getting in touch.

Billy, that’s great info, thank you. Could you dm me on twitter and we can set something up for early May?

Kevin, yes, I’ve really enjoyed Ransom City, once I got past the idea that it was going to be as plot-driven as I’d just assumed it would be from the whole quest premise. It’s fantastically entertaining and both sympathetic and wise in quite deliberately offhand ways. I think my take on it is going to be that with both books Gilman is showing rather than telling that the Great Man school of history is more or less bollocks, as he slyly refuses to lash on the heroism and happy endings. Would you mind also pinging me on Twitter, if poss, to see if we can all arrange a meet-up?

Andrew, one of the lovely things about moving unexpectedly down here is the chance to see some of the prettiest parts of the south, Hampshire included. Thanks for responding.

Tony, thank you!

James, we’ll sort something out sooner or later. I must say it’s too funny we’re mostly Irish. I give it ten minutes in person and we’ll have at least two connections in common, one of which will be embarrassing.


Sean Purdy 04.23.13 at 7:39 am

Hi Maria, I live in Wimborne, about five miles from Bournemouth (depending on which bit of it you measure from) and would be delighted to meet up – but it would need to be in Wimborne. Constraints of work, including two or more days a week in London, make it a stretch for me to get into Bournemouth. Wednesdays and Fridays are definite Dorset days.

I’m no academic but have read a few books, some of them CT recommendations – including the Half Made World, which I loved, and David Graeber’s Debt, which was slightly harder going.

I am also about one third Irish. And that’ll be the drinking third, so if you’re interested in pubs as well as coffee shops, I can make a few recommendations.


PHB 04.24.13 at 12:36 pm

Bournemouth has always been tatty. It is the Southern version of Blackpool. A place where the elderly upper tiers of the working class go to imagine themselves as members of the Tory establishment.

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