The importance to the town of the lovely but vulnerable River Arun..

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November 26, 2014 by Whispering Smith

Whispering Smith Column published in the Littlehampton Gazette on November 13th 2014

HIGH water, sitting outside of the Harbour Lights on a breezy morning watching a female cormorant warming her belly in the autumn sunshine. Herring and blockheaded gulls sharing bread put out for the swans, bad for them but they appear to prefer a 50/50 Hovis over crispy lettuce and the gulls definitely prefer chips rather than free range fish. Coffee downed, a short walk along the river walk and across to where the real, mostly wood built, boats of some character are moored. It was a pretty sight added to which the sweet smell of diesel oil exhaust drifting across the water bringing back seagoing memories. The River Arun is without a doubt the real jewel in Littlehampton’s crown and must at all costs be protected from any development which threatens to destroy the town’s seagoing heritage. The river is our history and while the development of the eastern side is not in itself unattractive, it does not compare in any measureable way to the romance of the current west bank with its memories, shambolic weed draped piles, the wooden boat buildings and the history we know and feel to be buried deep within. Of course, it is not a free ride and the river must generate an income at the marinas, but we have to be aware that greedy, uncaring eyes are forever watching, waiting for an opportunity to pounce, to build, to develop  to ‘improve’ our river’s banks, prom and open seaside vistas.

IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL sunny autumn morning, the Remembrance Sunday parade through town to Littlehampton’s war memorial. Smartly turned out uniformed men, women and youngsters, some struggling to keep in step with the bands were a delight to behold. Children in the watching crowd, a  public address system that seemed to work, spider webs highlighted on the trees and old warriors, some still marching and others who would have loved to have joined them but now, sadly not so mobile in their wheelchairs. Prayers, silence with only the shrill song of the ubiquitous seaside gulls accompanying the prayers, the Last Post and the respectful silence. Above all, the blood red sea of poppies on the white memorial to reminded us, if such a reminder were necessary, of those who gave their lives and their tomorrows that we might enjoy life on such a lovely morning…

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