More Hastings, less speed. At least, that’s my opinion… I’m never in a hurry to go anywhere, unless there’s ‘fud’ involved - in which case, clear the way!
None of us had ever been to Hastings and at least one of us (mentioning no names, but this traveller has only two legs) wasn’t even sure it was by the sea.
How wrong she was (oops, that’s given the game away). For not only was it a coastal paradise, blessed with blue skies and wispy clouds that seem to be a feature of the south-east corner of England in summer, it also had a delightful “old town” to potter around and plenty of unusual amusements for all ages.
Even I joined in one of the quaint attractions, allowing myself to be photographed poking my head through one of the painted wooden boards just off the seafront - known as ‘carnival cut-outs’, or ‘stand-ins’, where I thought I looked pretty good as a mermaid. Do mermaids have fur? They do now. Perhaps I should have been a ‘fur-maid’!
On the subject of fur and fun, there are two funicular railways - East Hill and West Hill - providing access from the town centre and seafront to the impressive cliffs that tower over the town.
The East Hill lift, which is the steepest funicular railway in Britain, takes you to the 660-acre Hastings Country Park, a delight for adventurers who want to sniff out lots of exciting new scents.
Dogs can also enjoy the ride - the East Hill lift provides spectacular views over The Stade, at which is located the largest beach-launched fishing fleet in Europe. The fishing quarter is bustling and lively and there’s a real sense of history here, with old buildings associated with the fishing trade sitting beautifully and seamlessly alongside the more modern buildings and tourist attractions on offer.
Ted and I were also welcome to go into the Shipwreck Museum and the Fishermen’s Museum at The Stade, both of which are free for all to enter and where there are some fascinating artefacts from the days before GPS and European fishing quotas were dreamed up - old coins, bottles and human bones - and photos of aged fishermen with even bigger whiskers than me!
On our holiday we visited the towns of Eastbourne and Lewes but to me, Hastings offered much more than these other popular East Sussex locations.
The Hastings Miniature Railway’s brightly coloured train rumbled the 600-yard journey from its main terminus at the wonderfully named Rock-a-Nore station, past the historic fishing beach and old net sheds to Marine Parade station. It was another unusual attraction that gave added pulling power to this lovely town, alongside the seafront go-karting facilities at The Stade.
Now that WAS too fast a journey for me to take part in!
However, we did all find time to relax, and sat in a covered seating area on East Parade, facing the town. The chauffeur dashed off to find some food and returned bearing gifts from nearby Plato’s Cafe, where the chef was also the proud servant of two border terriers.
The maid enjoyed a delicious cheese and tomato toastie while Ted and I tucked into our favourite seaside treats, sausage and bacon. Delicious!
Now, I can’t move away from ‘fud’ without mentioning an unusual attraction for the discerning diner - Foyles Pie & Mash in East Beach Street. Hand-made meat pies with mashed potato, gravy or ‘liquor’, similar to parsley sauce, were a traditional favourite for Londoners and a vegetarian version made a nice change for our chip-loving servants.
The ‘Old Town’ had its fair share of enticing shops, too. It had a feel of Whitby about it and in some ways the two are similar - proud of their fishing heritage, quaint in atmosphere and riddled with narrow streets which in Hastings are known as ‘twittens’ - ideal for exploring at a leisurely pace.
There were lots of amusements too, including Flamingo Park, great fun for kiddies - and Hastings Adventure Golf, the national centre for miniature golf in the UK and home to the annual World Crazy Golf Championships in October. There was even ‘Pirate Golf’, which proved hugely popular with landlubbers of all ages.
There was just one thing I’d have liked to have seen… more seating on the seafront, facing out across the waves. Everyone likes to daydream by the beach, but there was a distinct lack of benches or covered seating areas in which to relax and smell the sea air.
Next time, I’ll be sniffing out a couple of Club sites that I’ve got my eye on for our September holiday...
Travelling terrier Ted, together with his maid and chauffeur, visit campsites around the UK with Milly the caravan in tow. Ted offers tips for places to stay and shares some of his holiday capers.