What springs to mind when you hear the word seaside? Not simply 'coast' nor 'beach.' Those words have somewhat of a different meaning. In a game of word association, the word 'seaside' for Brits would provoke responses such as 'merry-go-round, bucket and spade, arcade machines, fish and chips' - things that together make the British seaside exclusively British, and things that can all be found in Barry Island, the coastal town that makes for a great day trip from Cardiff on any sunny day.
It's almost impossible to mention Barry Island these days without the names Gavin and Stacey coming up. 'Gavin and Stacey' is a British comedy series about the romantic relationship between an English guy and a Welsh girl who happens to be from Barry Island. For that reason, the series has brought newfound fame to the town from 2007 onwards, with many of its most memorable scenes being filmed in and around the local area. Anyone who comes here will not be able to miss the copious amounts of souvenirs on sale that contain references to the show and its characters. For those who are already familiar with it, the cafe where Stacey works can be found at Marco's Coffee & Ice Cream Bar next to the Western Shelter of the beach. And it's inside the Western Shelter where fans of the show can also find the amusement arcade where Vanessa works (Island Leisure Amusement Arcade). Souvenirs can be bought from the famous ticket booth.
Be sure to have fish and chips for lunch. Perhaps the most famous British dish is often eaten typically by the seaside, and in Barry Island, the options are all around you. While you can always eat inside a restaurant, the untold British custom is to get a takeaway and eat in view of the sea.
People don't associate ice cream with Britain and rightfully so. The UK is no Italy. However, after your fish and chips the most British thing to do would be to grab yourself a 'cone with a flake' and perhaps even some raspberry syrup on top; at the seaside, it is simply the thing to do.
The beach, after all, is what you're there for. So whilst enjoying Britain's annual five minutes of sun, you may as well do things in the most British way possible, which apart from getting sunburnt means slowly dipping your feet into the cold seawater, gradually lowering your body into the water's freezing depths, then looking back at your family who appear to be resting on the warm sand, and telling them “It's alright once you're in”.
Then of course, there's ending the day in the most sentimental way, “down the pub” even better if there's a football match on. Just be sure to drink at least two pints but more if you wish. Anyone who carries out these four steps deserves to be awarded a British passport instantly.
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