After having spent a couple of weeks in London working my behind off during the week and dancing Argentine Tango on the weekends and catching up with friends, I am spending some time with Amor at the coast.
The weather has been unpredictable this past week. It might start out gloriously sunny and by 3pm get cloudy and bucket with rain. I have been fortunate to miss the deluges. Yesterday was a bit cold, wet and grim weather wise, but we still went out to lunch to celebrate Amor’s birthday. We had a view of the sea which was churning into the shore. I always enjoy looking at the water regardless the weather, but it was great to look at it where we were dry and warm and eating lovely food.
Amor has been such a huge support to me recently. I really don’t know what I would have done without him, so as a special birthday treat I am going to whisk him away for a few days. A mini-break will do us the world of good. In the meantime, I have been trying to make the most of the lovely weather we have been having.
Surprisingly, today was a clear and sunny day. I am amazed at how mild it is for November. I have been able to get away with wearing thick wool cardigans instead of a coat (except for when it rains!). I wasn’t going to let the sunshine pass me by today so I put on my cardigan and went for a stroll along the promenade.
On my way to the promenade, I came across these mushrooms. They weren’t there yesterday! Apparently, this is a good time of year for picking mushrooms. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about wild mushrooms to be able to ‘harvest’ them for eating, but they look beautiful just the same.
The town centre was busy with people, but fortunately the promenade was relatively quiet in comparison. I wandered down towards Holywell. I took my obligatory photo of The Pier. The band stand is now opened up completely having been barricaded off throughout the summer for performances. I just love the blue top of it! The sun was warming me up nicely as I headed towards my favourite little patch of beach. The water was calm and flat as a pancake. I could smell the salt in the air. Apart from the odd bird, seagull or frigate, there were no people on the beaches. My patch was empty and I found a place to sit in the sun and dozed off listening to the gentle sound of the water lapping against the shore. I eventually prised myself off my beach and wandered back towards The Pier. There were a few people out in front of their little beach huts enjoying the sunshine and having cups of tea. One man had the same idea as I had and was enjoying a little snooze in his deck chair. What a pleasant way to spend an afternoon!
I eventually ended up at Fusciardi’s Ice Cream Parlour and tried their soft vanilla ice cream. It was yummy! I may have to go back to Favoloso to try theirs again for comparison! After my ice cream, I headed back home as the sun was starting to fade. I had a wonderful afternoon. The sea breeze certainly cleared the cobwebs in my head.
The August Bank Holiday found me once again at the coast. I was going to have a long weekend as I didn’t have much work scheduled. After fighting a traffic jam on the M25, surprisingly, the M23 towards Gatwick was amazingly clear. Maybe people were taking advantage of the cheap ferry rates and going to France for the long weekend? Regardless, I preferred to spend my weekend in Eastbourne. I have been extremely lucky with the weather nearly every weekend since the beginning of March. I have an amazing tan and I am getting very fit from all of the walking and cycling I have been doing.
The weather on the Saturday was beautiful and sunny and I parked myself on the beach for a few hours (ok, nearly 5, I was reading a book). My section of the beach was empty except for myself and another lady who was parked about 20 yards away from me. After a few hours of relative peace and quiet, a young man in his 30’s (I am only guessing as I am rubbish as guessing people’s ages) parked himself between us, fully clothed (ok, he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and sunglasses), lying down on his front with his head facing my crotch. The whole beach was empty otherwise and he had to park near me! To me, that is like sitting in an empty cinema and putting yourself in front of the only two people in there. A bit pervy and annoying. I could have sat there a bit longer reading my book, but I was really put off, so I got dressed and left. The next time someone does this, I will take a photo and send it to Amor.
Sunday started cloudy. I walked into the town centre for a coffee and to read the Sunday papers. There was a man playing the guitar and singing blues and bluegrass music. He was really good. I managed to get a table outside and was able to read the paper, have coffee and listen to music all at the same time!
The Camera Cbscura on the Pier was closed because of the weather. Well, it was very cloudy. I took a few photos and am very pleased with how dramatic the one below turned out.
It may have been cloudy, but the weather was warm and there were quite a few people out and about. The sun eventually broke through the clouds at about 2pm and it turned into a really pleasant afternoon. I finished reading the paper on the beach. 🙂 On my way home, I couldn’t resist stopping off for an ice cream. I am working my way through the flavours at Favoloso.
Afterwards, I stopped into The Towner Gallery. There were a couple of exhibitions I hadn’t seen before. I forgot to get the information for one of the exhibitions, which consists of photographs and other mixed media. It was interesting, but it really didn’t move me. Instead, it got me thinking about art and photography and about what the criteria is to have one’s artwork shown in a gallery. Such as: Is it really important to have studied photography and to have a qualification (letters after one’s name) in order to be taken as a serious photographer? Or is it more of who you know? What if you learned about photography from books and are naturally talented with a good eye? Does one have to enter and win a lot of contests to be taken seriously? How do they do it?
The other exhibition was by Jodie Carey – In The Eyes of Others. I thought the plaster bones made into huge chandeliers was very creative, interesting and beautiful in their own right. They looked like massive wedding cakes, but turned upside down. What I didn’t get was why there were bundles of newspapers and empty fruit and vegetable cartons stacked around the room. I lost the blurb about what it all meant and am afraid that I couldn’t for the life of me explain it to you as eloquently as the young lady working in the room that day. Frankly, if one needs to write a couple of pages explaining the concept of the piece, then you’ve pretty much lost me. I really don’t need to know.
I went home after the gallery and nearly stepped on a used condom that was in the middle of the pavement. It took me a moment to appreciate the absurdity of coming across this item on a nice quiet street next to the tennis ground and so I turned around and took a photograph of it. I won’t post it as it is pretty disgusting. The surreal aspect of this became more poignant when I noticed that there was an elderly couple sitting in the car next to it. Do you think…?
Bank Holiday Monday was scorchio. We decided that we would walk to Beachy Head and have lunch at the pub on the top of the hill. I had noticed that although there were a fair amount of people out and about that day, I thought there would have been a lot more, considering it was a Bank Holiday. It was surprisingly quiet to what I was expecting. The weather was sooo nice, I was regretting not suggesting we veg on the beach instead. In any event, and as the tide was out, we walked along and on the beach to Cow Gap. If any of you ever contemplates doing this, I personally do not recommend it, especially in the heat, and from Holywell. The walk along the promenade is fine, but once it finishes at Holywell, the walking becomes difficult because of the amount of boulders and shingle one must navigate across. Then there is the aspect of avoiding boulders that have greenery on them, which can be quite slippery. If one is not careful, it is very easy to twist an ankle taking this route. I usually have good ideas, but this was not one of my best one’s in hindsight. If you wanted to get to Cow Gap, it would be easier (and safer) to take the land route along Foyle Way and then walk down the stairs. We did this the first time we went there. In any event, we safely arrived at Cow Gap and climbed up the stairs to finish our journey to the top of the hill at Beachy Head. Although it is fairly tough going, the view is pretty amazing and the thought of an ice cold beer waiting for us at the top kept us in good spirits. We took our time with a nice gentle pace and eventually reached our destination. 🙂
While Amor went to find a table outside, I got in the beers before we worked out what we wanted for lunch. The place, although busy, wasn’t actually heaving, so I was surprised that I had to wait nearly 10 minutes to be served. When I eventually came back in to order lunch, there was no particular place to order it. Some people queued up in front of one bartender, which didn’t seem unreasonable, until he advised us to find other bartenders. There didn’t seem to be a system of one person taking orders and another doing the bar, which would have been quicker. Even though I still had half of my drink waiting for me outside, I ordered more drinks as we were being told that our lunch order could take 40 minutes. In the end, it was more like an hour before our meal arrived, my lunch order was wrong and they didn’t bring any condiments when they served us, unlike the table next to us. I also never got the missing item from my order even though I asked for it (and we never got condiments). The food and service was pretty disappointing to say the least. In the future, we may stop here for drinks (it’s the only bar on Beachy Head), but we won’t ever eat here again.
We ambled down the hill back into Eastbourne. This was easier than going up. (On reflection, I think that all of the walking and cycling I had been doing these last few months have been paying off in that I had no pain the day after from my little trek.) 🙂 Since our lunch was a bit of a disappointment, we stopped into Favoloso for dessert! This time we had a 99 with their soft ice cream. It was thick and creamy, yum!
Tuesday was quite breezy and cloudy and by the afternoon there was a fair amount of sunshine. I wanted to go out in my car and drive with the top down. (What is the point of having a convertible and not using it?!) So, we drove out to Alfriston for lunch at The Smugglers Inn. The service and the food here was a good deal better than the lunch we had the day before. I would definitely eat here again, but I would skip dessert and try the chocolate and ice cream from Not Just Chocolate. We just looked in the window as I was too stuffed to even contemplate going in there.
Alfriston is a very pretty and a very old village dating back to the 13th century. For a small town, it has quite a few pubs. We wandered around the village, went into the gallery, perused the shops, had a look inside the church, and walked around the churchyard.
After spending an hour or so walking off our lunch, I drove back towards Eastbourne via the scenic route, thus giving Amor a chance to admire the scenery and amazing views for a change. Our first stop was at High and Over for some beautiful scenic views of the Cuckmere River.
A bit further along the path we came to Frog Firle which had some splendid views towards Cuckmere Haven where you have a view of the sea. This is another walk I would like to do sometime. This day though, I just wanted some gentle flat walking as a respite from the previous day’s walk.
We got back to the car and drove off to Cuckmere Haven. I hadn’t been here since March, when I came here for the very first time with Amor. This time the weather was warmer and sunnier, the tide was out and the sea was gentler. I will never stop being amazed at the view of The Seven Sisters. It is so beautiful. One day I will walk it! For now, I am happy to just admire it. We spent a pleasant time looking at the sea and reminiscing. What a lovely ending to a long weekend.
Saturday was a bit overcast but dry. After a late start getting out of the house, Amor and I decided to drive out of Eastbourne. We were going to go towards Seaford and walk towards Cuckmere Haven. I wanted to get a view of The Seven Sisters from a different angle, but we ended up in East Dean on a whim and had lunch at The Tiger Inn. Considering how grey the day was, there were many people (walkers/ramblers) about and the place was packed. We had our lunch outside as there was nowhere to sit indoors. Fortunately, it was dry and not too cold. We both had the tuna fishcakes and salad. I was slightly worried if I was going to manage to finish my lunch as the portions were quite generous. We were served two very large fishcakes on a bed of mixed salad. They were so good that I would happily have them again, except I would have a smaller portion as dessert was out of the question – no room. After lunch, we decided to walk off our lunch and wandered around the village and did a little bit of exploring. There are quite a few quaint and sweet looking cottages here and there. Many of the houses are built with flint, which I find very attractive and appealing. There is a ceramics studio, some cafés, a deli, restaurant, cricket ground and lots of open space around. It is very pretty and quite picturesque.
We came across a house that used to be the schoolhouse. There is a plaque on the wall commemorating the evacuation of children from Rotherhithe to East Dean during the Second World War. It is a lovely little building with a school bell on the roof. There are also some allotments that had a few interesting scarecrows. We came across a game of cricket being played and stopped to watch for a few minutes. I have lived in this country for over 20 years and I still don’t understand how this game is played and why it takes days to do so. What I do enjoy about these cricket matches is how it creates a sense of community in these small towns.
There is a National Trust walk called Crowlink which starts at East Dean and goes all the way to Birling Gap. We hadn’t really put too much thought into what we were going to do that day, but now that we know this walk exists, we might try our luck with it one day. The only dilemma would be in working out where to start. Do we start at Birling Gap and walk to East Dean for lunch at The Tiger Inn and then walk back again, or have lunch first, walk to Birling Gap, have a cup of tea/coffe and then back to East Dean. Decisions, decisions! In any event, we drove to Birling Gap.
There isn’t much in Birling Gap except a few dire looking houses, a B&B café/restaurant and the public conveniences. We walked down to the beach, but as the tide was coming in, we weren’t able to walk along it very far. Also, there was a bit of a mist coming in. In spite of that, I still managed to take some good photos. There was a fair amount of seaweed on the beach as well as egg casings and cuttlefish bones. The water was quite brown and murky and churning at a nice pace. I would love to be here during a thunderstorm as the place is quite desolate and moody when the sun isn’t shining. There was a cycling event that took place nearby, and so the area was quite busy. I visited the ladies’ before we made our way back home and I was impressed with the cleanliness of the place – always a plus in my book.
We drove back to Eastbourne via Beachy Head and the mist so thick that headlights were necessary. It looked rather spooky. It is amazing how quickly the weather can change. It all cleared again once we were back on lower ground.
As it had been a few hours since our lunch, I suggested to Amor that I treat him to ice cream at Favoloso. I got him Rocky Road and some other chocolate thing I can’t remember but was really good and I had Ferrero Roché and Orange Chocolate Chip. The Orange Chocolate Chip was surprisingly good with a very orangey taste which was quite refreshing. While eating our ice creams, we had a look in all of the shop windows on both sides of the street and afterwards we went into The Eastbourne Heritage Centre,which happens to be across the street from the ice cream parlour. The building is not large and one can easily spend a good hour or so here if you read and look at everything available on the three floors (we only had 45 minutes before it closed). There is information on the history of Eastbourne as well as many photographs of how the area used to look and a few artefacts. The staff are friendly and fairly knowledgeable. I say fairly as there was one young man there that was still learning. The entrance fee is £2.50, which is nothing compared to some places I have been to and which I am sure barely covers the upkeep of the premises. I also bought a little booklet about Eastbourne for the same price as the entry fee. I am building up a lovely collection about all things in and around Eastbourne. I just find the area fascinating. If you are in Eastbourne and have an hour to spare, I do recommend spending some time in The Heritage Centre, and then go to Flavoloso for an ice cream afterwards, or the other way around if you wish!