Well. I’ve been rather slack, haven’t I? I was aiming for a blog post every two weeks, but every week since early August (when we got back from holiday), it was a case of ‘ooh I’ll do one next week’ followed by ‘perhaps I’ll get a chance on Friday night’, but one thing led to another and here we are in bloomin’ November.
What’s been going on? Voluntary work, juggled with trying to set up a business of my own, and parenting an actual human toddler. I’ve even managed to start a sewing course, dance at a ceilidh and, most recently, witnessed the St Jude’s Day storm at close hand.
We had planned a weekend on the south coast a while ago – wanting to revisit favourite old haunts, and explore new places, we picked Hastings as our base, as I had heard good things about the vintage and junk shops in the Old Town.
On first view, it didn’t disappoint.
The seafront was a proper working fishing beach, with net-drying weatherboarded huts and shacks selling fresh fish alongside boats hauled out on the shingle. It felt real, with ropes and lobster pots piled up everywhere – but just one street back, you find yourself in a weird mix of chocolate box pubs, overpriced ‘vintage’ tat and sweetie shops.
Hidden amongst the gimmicky shops, though, were some genuine junk emporiums piled high with the weird, the wonderful, the forgotten and unloved, and a fair few bargains to be had. I was most impressed with the legendary Robert’s Rummage, and a shop over the road from it (have forgotten the name, sorry!) which not only had a basement full of glorious junk, it even had a second basement below the basement.
After splashing out with my tenner on several choice items, we caught the funicular railway up the West Cliff where we had a prime view of St Jude’s storm brewing, and saw the ant-like figures of daredevil people standing right on the promenade as waves broke right over them.
From there, we decided to drop back down into the Old Town, and the real glory of Hastings revealed itself. I’ve always been a fan of the alleyway, the ginnel, the cut-through, the switchback and dogleg, and the Old Town is full of them.
Everywhere we looked, there were stairways twisting away from us, archways to peep through and paths leading invitingly round corners.
On top of this, each cottage was cuter than the next (and yet not too chocolate boxy)….
…and of course there was garden after garden to admire; as we descended towards the high street, I found we’d saved the best till last. There was a flight of stairs with tiny cottages on either side, a plant perched on each tread of the stairs…
…and it led to the most beautiful, perfect wee jewel of a courtyard, crammed with flowers and even the obligatory friendly cat.
To find this fairytale courtyard, with its Goldilocks cottages and witches cat, was like stepping into a dream world, just a stone’s throw from a touristy thoroughfare full of DFLers (Down-from-Londoners) like us buying expensive nick nacks we don’t really need. There were even reports of secret smuggling caves and tunnels, which would have been the icing on the cake for me, but we didn’t have time to investigate those further.
There was more to the weekend, though – a trip to Eastbourne and Birling Gap where we saw the St Jude’s build-up at even closer hand, lashing against the Seven Sisters…
…a flying visit to Bexhill to see the De La Warr Pavilion at sunset…
and of course the experience of the storm itself; surprisingly calm overnight, as the bedroom we were staying in faced away from the sea, and stayed relatively quiet. The next morning we drove along to Brighton – again, seeing little damage as the Weald countryside inland had been sheltered by the Downs – and I had a happy 30 minutes browsing the perfectly-named Snoopers Paradise on North Laine.
Throw in a proper seaside chippy tea and some good coffee & walnut cake, and you have my perfect weekend pretty much to a T.