from The Essential Paradise

Doc. 1.61.2w

Surfside (census pop.: 913) is a borough of Derby Township on Eden Island, in the British Paradise Islands, a featured setting in the Two Paradises fantasy/fiction realm, as devised by author Jonnie Comet. Edit

The location is noted as a Pacific-Ocean sea-bathing spot popular amongst tourists and locals and is the home of numerous characters in several story arcs.

Basic information Edit

  • Official name: Borough of Surfside, Derby Township
  • Population: 913 (1995)
  • Land area:
  • Governmental structure: Three-member councillor board
  • Founded: c.1895

History Edit

Surfside traces historical roots back to the early 19th C when signal fires were lit on the beach to alert approaching ships of the islands’ location. The first permanent settlement, however, did not appear before 1885, when Long Shore Road was improved. The route traces the route of ancient paths of the original islanders to enable access to the Ali Wani range, which served as a vital observation post during the 1939-1945 War.

In 1950 Surfside was made a dependent borough of nearby Derby, which had been incorporated as a township in 1947. This reorganisation provided for the formal inclusion of the Beachwood and North Beach Road neighbourhoods into Surfside.

All Angels’ church Edit

The church of All-Angels-By-The-Sea, at the base of Long Shore Road, is one of the oldest continuously-used churches in the territory, a traditional Gothic cruciform church built of local-clay brick and harvested coral in 1895. The 30-metre-tall steeple across the way from the beachfront promenade has long served as a landmark for approaching vessels.

Geography & topography Edit

Surfside is located at the easternmost point of the entire island chain and comprises a wide, white-sand beach about 1 km long, along the eastern shore of Eden Island, having densely-wooded areas both north and south of it, and the eastward-facing hillside of the immediate interior, which is part of the Ali Wani Range. The beach is shallow and extends far out towards the dormant volcanic shelf, permitting constant, moderate wave heights and frequencies that are conducive to surfing. Ocean depths do not exceed 15 m within about 1.5 km of the high-tide line.

The beachfront is noted to be vulnerable in heavy storm tides and high winds, especially hurricanes, which originate in the currents off South America. Frequently the beach, the promenade and even the main road along the coast can be closed. Long Shore Road climbs up the eastern side of the Ali Wani Range towards The Hump hamlet, near the top of the hills, through a series of tightly-turning switchbacks. Its lower reaches, known by their number of turns above The Strand, have become a popular residential neighbourhood, as the hill is so steep that most houses have exposed basements on their ocean-facing sides and clear views over each other even from only the opposite side of the road.

Climate Edit

On good days the sea breeze, averaging about 10-20 kts between early April and late October. Temperatures rarely vary from [80-90º F] during the day and [70-82º F] at night, exclusive of stormy periods. The residential area up the switchback Long Shore Road tends to be only slightly better protected from sun, by trees, and wind and water, by the steepness of the hill. In extreme conditions landslides have been known to cause significant damage to undermined structures and those directly below.

Being easternmost of all municipalities in the territory Surfside Strand is generally considered a bellwether for weather changes and the lifesavers are typically charged with determining when the public lido should be closed down in advance of galeforce conditions.

Business & industry Edit

Surfside’s principal industry is service- and tourism-centred, with restaurants, retail shops and places of hospitality cluttering the ocean-facing side of The Strand. Several small to medium-sized industries populate the upper end of Township Road. Agriculture, predominantly orchards, vineyards, dairy and poultry, occupies much of the land to the northwest, west, and southwest.

Hospitality Edit

The Grand Hotel, sometimes known as The Surfside Grand (i.e., 'The Grand on The Strand'), is popular with guests desiring the understated charm of a 1950s tropical-island hotel at the centre of The Strand. The ballroom hosts regular 1940s big-band dances and 1950s rock-and-roll hop events. The dining room is rated 4 stars and ordinarily reservations are advised.

The Tide is a slightly more modern resort hotel on the beach, popular with active middleaged couples and families. The resort hosts perennial events such as the New Year’s Spritz, a Guy Fawkes’ Day fireworks display, and a full six days of themed festivities at Festival.

Retail Edit

Royal Bank of Paradise have an iconic Victorian-styled brick building in The Strand; its three-storey clock tower is accepted as the official time in the borough. Gift shops, boutiques, special-interest shops, and salons in The Strand attract locals and tourists. Beach Baby, Dramatic Delight, and RFG (Rollie Fab Gear), commonly frequented by teenaged tourists and locals.

In 1993, the Lavender brothers of Surf Haven, Florida, open their first territorial branch of Sunrise Surf Shop in The Strand.

Nearest the intersection of Long Shore Road are the locals’ food markets including a Riteway with pharmacy.

In 1998-1999 the Surfside Arcade, comprising two dozen shops plus a food court, is constructed just off The Strand. An adjacent stairway park provides pedestrians with access to the first turn of Long Shore Road; a second, Macgruder Park, including a landscaped waterfall, extends up to the second turn as well.

Government Edit

As a borough, Surfside is administered by a three-member local council with representation in Derby Township council. Councillors are elected for three-year terms and limited to a maximum of three consecutive terms.

Community services Edit

Borough police and firefighting facilities are based in Long Shore Road. The eastern shore station for the Royal Mail is located toward the southern end of The Strand.

The Port Paradise Sailors’ Home was built following the 1939-1945 War to care for injured Royal Navy and Allied personel. Since 1965 it has served as a continuing-care residential facility for all retired or wounded military personel.

The Ali Wani Observatory, near the apex of Long Shore Road, keeps telescope and antennae used to observe celestial bodies, track satellites, and detect and monitor eastern-Pacific tropical storms. The Observatory hosts frequent educational programmes and special exhibits.

Utilities Edit

Just below the Ali Wani Observatory, Paradise Telecom have an antenna facility which is used to draw North American television and radio stations, typically by relay from satellites.

The local sewage-treatment plant is located about 1 km south of the base of Long Shore Road, down which sewerage follows ever-increasing pipes due to the steep decline of the terrain.

Transportation Edit

Paradise Transport 11 and 19 buses stop at All-Angels-By-The-Sea, where the borough’s only traffic signal moderates traffic from Long Shore Road, The Strand, and Sunrise Drive. Buses also stop in The Strand, up Long Shore Road, and at the corners of smaller residential ways such as Beachwood Terrace, North Beach Road and Sea Edge.

Education Edit

Enrolment at Surfside Borough Elementary School in 1995 was 34 in primary 0-2 and 45 in elementary 1-4. Enrolment from Surfside at North Eden High School was 49 in secondary 1-5 and 9 for sixth form.

A well-appointed and popular library serves the elementary school and the public at 2 Sunrise Drive. Computers and fax machines are available to belongers and residents for free; tourists pay a nominal fee.

The Strand Edit

Surfside Strand follows the English model of a seaside high street with businesses, retail places, dining and hospitality places, and homes in a row to one side and, over the way, a bulkhead along the waterfront. The architecture of the structures ranges a full gamut from late-Victorian (typically pastiche) to late-20th-C utilitarian, especially in the retail places. Most shops are detached structures set back at least 3 m from the pavement’s edge; many may have actual lawns or gardens, in which wares may be displayed, and footways leading from a gate to the door. Canvas awnings are popular amongst merchants although municipal law requires that they be completely removed in advance of forecasted tropical storms lest their damage or loss affect others’ property.

In the central part of The Strand are only eight private houses, all of which are tidily kept and rather pretty in their traditional 1950s Englishness.

Being meant as much for tourists as for locals, The Strand observes a business day somewhat longer than most in Paradise, especially during high season, with many shops remaining open through 20.00 and eateries through 22.00 or even later. When brightly lit after dusk, the aura is festive, almost boisterous, but safe.

Since The Strand is a principal artery between northern Eden Island and the Hell Gate Causeway to Morning Island, the street can be very busy with motor traffic. Pedestrians may cross at any of several zebras at which vehicles in the street must stop for their safety. Paradise Transport buses stop at the Grand Hotel and at the Pavilion opposite. Parallel parking is provided along much of the kerb on both sides, permitted only for the day; but empty places are rare at any time and on weekends nearly impossible to secure.

The broad pavement is liberally provided with concrete box gardens and square beds for trees and shrubs, at times narrowing the passable way to only 2.5 metres’ width. Attractive black-anodised aluminium lampposts support tapered faux-gas glass-paned lanterns to both sides. As in most Paradisian urbanised areas, there are numerous green-and-grey benches, most facing the ocean view.

The Promenade Edit

Opposite all the shops of The Strand is the Promenade, which, although in essence only the 5-metre-wide pavement along the southbound side of the same street, takes on a certain separate identity. Here there are no proper shops, though during Festival and at other times of the year, especially during high season, the municipality observes a kind of market day with portable kiosks and barrows set up to vend food and trinkets. As on the other side, there are boxed tree beds and gardens green-and-grey benches; here nearly all face the ocean. The Pavilion serves as a shaded bus stop and a tourism centre, with public telephones and usually a well-wishing concierge at an information desk.

The railing overlooking the beach is a favourite spot for photograph-taking or sightseeing, as it affords an uninterrupted vista of the beach and nearly 2 km of oceanfront. In several places permanent stairways give access to the sand about 3 m below.

The beach Edit

The promenade is constructed atop a massive concrete seawall constructed in the 1940s meant to hold back storm waves, shifting sands, and artillery attack from the sea. It has never been significantly damaged by natural or manmade causes. Against the seawall is arrayed, under the shade of the promenade, several series of concrete-block cabana compartments, each containing a private shower with hot and cold running water and a dry dressing area. Public toilets are also provided in the same manner.

The beach itself is broad, flat and of fine white sand slightly tinged pink with coral powder. To the north lies Surfside Wood, a public preserve; to the south, over a full kilometre away, lies The Tide resort upon a sturdy steel bulkhead. In between, tourists from all over the world mingle with locals to savour the Pacific sun and to frolic in the Pacific swells, which here are remarkably moderate, even calm, making Surfside a favourite for older people and younger families with small children.

The kiosk Edit

From the Pavilion descends a broad permanent stairway to a wooden boardway extending some 100 m out across the beach, terminating at a wide platform, provided with box gardens and trees, upon which stands the iconic Surfside snacks kiosk. This concrete-block structure, gaily painted in orange, blue and white, has over three dozen stools at which sun worshippers and bathers, most of whom approach in mere swimming costume, may be served snack foods and cold drinks

Though fitted with drop-down storm shutters, the kiosk still frequently damaged when winds are over [100 mph] or waves break more than 1.5 m high against the seawall.

Unique culture Edit

An annual kite-flying contest was begun at Surfside in the 1950s; but owing to the onshore winds, more kites ended up in buildings across The Strand than in the water from which they could be more easily retrieved; and the event was relocated to Derby.

The Surfside Splash is a quasi-sanctioned celebration of New Year’s for which participants enjoy a few moments’ bathing in the ocean at midnight. Local police and lifesavers have taken to overseeing the event, at which many bathers insist on taking the water without clothes, and may bar participation to any who appear excessively inebriated.

The Paradise Invitational Surfing Championship is held at Surfside beach each April (during Festival) from 1991.

Toplessness at Surfside beach Edit

One factor undeniably responsible for much of Surfside’s popularity is the incidence of young women taking the sun and the surf without swimsuit tops, a practice not banned anywhere in Paradise but one apparently disproportionately popular here.

Amongst some girls, notably the Surfside locals and those from Derby and Devon who frequent the place, the prospect of going topless to Surfside Beach connotes a conscious social and even sensual awakening, as they are aware of the sort of attention they will receive for it. Fortunately, during much of high season, locals tend to outnumber tourists along The Strand and Promenade, or on the beach, by at least a discernible margin; and local girlwatchers are far less likely to importune local girls about their state of dress at a public beach.

Appearance in stories Edit

Surfside is a principal or featured setting in many story arcs within both the Paradise One and Paradise Two domains. It is the home of numerous characters including Corinne Baker, Gina St John, Jenny Talbot, Brandi Branthwaite, Nancy Boerch, Ginnie Petter, and Sally Henderson.

It is also a very popular destination for many characters who do not live there. In The Seduction of Susie, Lady Susie, who is from Somerset, meets Terri Peale, who is from Derby, on Surfside Beach. In The Initiation of Janine, narrator Janine Hewlett describes an encounter with her future boyfriend Charlie whilst she and her friend, Charlie’s cousin Sally, have been sunning topless. The episode of ‘Bosom Buddies’, in which Lady Susie and Jenny Talbot attend the beach whilst minimally dressed, provides detail about the beach culture and the tourists’ interests.

Throughout the Janine, of Paradise arc, Janine and her friends shop at the Surfside Arcade and visit the beach here. In Janine’s First Date she begins to doubt her worth to others after a middleaged tourist is caught gawking at her whilst she suns topless there. In Janine’s Night To Remember she buys a red frock for the Valentines’ dance at Broadway Star, a shop usually considered as being more for a tourist market. Whilst underdressed she attends a beach party in North Beach Road with her boyfriend Charlie. In Janine Goes Wassailing, she and Ginnie Petter go caroling throughout the municipality for Christmas season 2001; in Splash Party they participate in the 2002 Surfside Splash event as well.

In She’s a Fine Girl Lady Susie meets Brandi Branthwaite at The Coop, a pub in Aqua Lane, and seduces her whilst snogging in a car outside Surfside Borough Elementary School.

In Au Naturel Corinne Baker must return home from a weekend to be spent naked with Lord Jonathan to collect her birth-control pills and strolls the beach from the breakwater at the end of North Beach Road to her family’s beachfront house (about 275 m) and back to the boat without dressing.

Both ‘Bosom Buddies’ and ‘Youngbloods’ Ball’ depict the many footways, some truly secret, within the dense jungle of Surfside Wood, located between North Beach Road and the end of the Sea Edge neighbourhood and forming the northern frontier of the beach itself. Both Nancy Boerch, who lives in Sea Edge, and Jenny Talbot, whose house is the only one of North Beach Road sharing a frontier with beachfront Surfside Wood, host clandestine sleepouts with their friends in the preserve.

Jenny Talbot regularly surfs the beach behind her house, where she often encounters Lord Jonathan, Lady Kimberley, the Sands brothers and many other Eden Island surfers.

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Doc. 1.61.2w. b. 2015.0908. ©Jonnie Comet Productions Ltd. All rights reserved Edit
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