WHISPERING SMITH: Our island is back, edging east with all its winkles

WHEN I was a mere stripling, Winkle Island, the raised rock bed off Littlehampton, appeared huge and, indeed it was, even high enough to ground coasters inbound for our gravel or timber wharves, with the receding tide leaving the ships high and dry.

You had to take care when gathering the molluscs, as the incoming tide quickly surrounded the island and many a winkler got wet feet.

Mr Merritt, our neighbour in Wendy Ridge, Rustington, an elderly man whose ability to drink a whole cup of hot tea from a saucer I greatly admired, would take me down to the island with his sons to gather winkles. Back at his house he would boil them, give me a bent out safety pin and show me how to remove the little cap and ferret out the meaty bit. Lovely, especially with bread and strawberry jam.

Then, without my seeming to notice it, the island vanished and the shoreline levelled out. Now it is back, higher than ever it seems and has, I fancy, shifted a little bit to the east and headed for Worthing.

I met an old friend on the beach who told me he had been out to the new island recently and gathered a few winkles from the surrounding rock pools, as the high point of the island is still bereft of life. He cooked them, ate them and declared them to be as delicious as ever.

Remembering the recent accidental dirty water discharge into the sea, I will need a little persuading before indulging myself, but he seems to be okay… so far.

LITTLEHAMPTON’S Small Business Saturday showed our town at its very best. Free fish and chips thanks to The Fish Factory, the local arts group, craft stalls, a ukulele gathering, street performers, raffles, etc. A great opportunity to meet friends old and new.

I even found a 1950s Lone Ranger Annual.

On Saturday, even more fun with the Carnival Christmas Fun Day in the town centre, 10am-4pm. Be there!

SAD news that Allotment and Town Show chairman Glyn Allen has passed away at the age of 90. Glyn was a familiar and friendly figure every Sunday morning in the allotment shed, always with a smile and some sound advice if consulted. He will be greatly missed.