A view of Hastings, St Leonards and Bexhill

August 25 2019 – St Leonards-on-Sea.

I have a couple of weeks off between jobs and for this first week I am down at the flat. I wrote a little about the flat and the progress made since I bought it in March in this blog post and touched on the job I am starting. There will be more on the job at a later date.

I did not do a huge amount while I was at the flat; I did read, I did play records, I cooked and ate, drank wine, visited a couple of pubs and made a few walks. I was pretty exhausted from work and life and didn’t really feel up to much. I don’t think I spoke to anyone more than pleasantries when ordering food or drink. It was great having some space to just be in my head. It was great to have an opportunity to catch up on a backlog of posts as well 🙂 I enjoyed my time.

Yesterday I posted about a walk I took exploring some of the weirder bits of the area I live in. This post will wrap up the rest of the week, though as I said I did not do much.

The beach here is quite steep, and very stony, there is sand at the low tide mark as all the pebbles are pushed up the beach with each tide. The beach environment changes what feels like daily, particularly recently as there have been some very high tides and the wind has been blowing, what feels like all summer.

I wanted to get some photos of the sea crashing on the pillars under the pier, so walked along there just before high tide. It was not worth the effort as not a lot was happening, maybe the conditions were not quite right. I walked on up to town for a bit, and on the way back home I spotted this chap on the groyne below Goat Ledge Cafe so stopped to take a couple of pictures. He didn’t get wet which really surprised me.

The following day was a lot calmer and for my next photographic mission I wanted to see how far under the pier I could get, so went out walking at low tide. It was significantly more successful than the high tide walk. I took a number of photos of St Leonards reflected in the puddles left by the outgoing tide. It was really nice, St Leonards looks magnificent from down here.

Under the pier at low tide I was as disappointed as I was at the high. I am not sure what I was hoping to visualise down here, but it was not what I saw. Perhaps, like yesterday the light was not quite right, it was the middle of the morning, so not the best timing, though I was aiming for low tide, not the right light.

I was amazed, though not sure why I was amazed, at the amount of old fishing net and line that was caught in the struts and beams of the pier. There was a lot of it. Everywhere. Disgraceful.

Next weekend (31 August) sees the start of the Coastal Currents art festival, centred in Hastings and with exhibitions at various locations up and down the coast, it is similar to the e17 Art Trail I was involved in back in June; one day I may join in! There are some interesting exhibitions happening including one in the basement tunnels under the closed Observer building in Hastings. I have seen some intriguing images coming from the curators and am keen to have a look.

The entrance to the Observer basement is in Gotham Alley so it was there I headed next, hoping for a sneak preview through an open door. I don’t believe Gotham Alley is the official name of the alley, but I can see why it is called it!

It is also the host of a lot of the old graffiti and street art in Hastings. I recognise this artist but for the life of me I cannot remember who it is.

Though this is clearly a Sweet Toof, a very old Sweet Toof.

Like so much of Hastings, there are buildings on cliff edges, banks and sand stone mounds. Gotham Alley is backed at one end by a sand stone wall and like all sand stone walls this has been hollowed out. A small shelter has been carved out of the rock, how long ago I have no idea, it looks old. Was it an animal shelter or the home to a hermit? I am not sure what it us used for now, lunch time smoko for those who work in the buildings nearby? street drinkers? It does not look the most comfortable.

El joined me for the bank holiday weekend. On the Sunday we caught the train to Bexhill, the next town down the coast. We have driven through it, but not really stopped for a decent look. This was our first day trip away from the Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea area since I took the flat. It was nice to get out and see of the surroundings.

I liked Bexhill more than El, it is an OK town, nothing special. It has two record shops and numerous second hand and book shops, which is a great thing, and loads of pubs and cafes, also a good thing. We did find a great pub for lunch, nice food, good beer and all for an excellent price.

The main reason I wanted to come to Bexhill was to visit the de la Warr Pavilion. This lovely building was opened in 1935 and is mentioned on numerous occasions in the wonderful war memoirs by one of the UK’s funniest men, the late Spike Milligan, who played concerts here while on training for the Second World War. It is a fabulous building with some lovely art deco features, I am a sucker for any building with curved walls.

On the bank holiday Monday we drive back to London quite early, avoiding the worst of the traffic and the potential for being stuck in my poorly air-conditioned car in traffic on one of the hottest day of the year. It was the longest I had stayed in the flat so far, and i very much enjoyed it!