Friday, 27 March 2015

old town hastings and the sea

Hastings is a town of two halves. There's the new town. Ubiquitous chain stores, slightly-scary-but-probably-just-bored-and-fed-up-of-the-down-from-Londoners teenagers hanging about smoking fags and kicking cans, and that slight sense of   hopelessness that often hangs around old seaside towns.

But there's the old town. It's been likened to "shoreditch-on-sea". I think that doesn't do this part of Hastings justice. It's better than that. It's got bags of character, old Tudor buildings mixed in with Victorian all vying for space up and down this hilly part of town. Junkyards sit side by side with kiss-me-quick seaside shops selling beach balls and rock. Artisan bakeries and a shop selling tea, spices and herbs next to an old fashioned bicycle shop. Regulars and locals say hello to each other. A dreadlocked tie dye wearing hippy looks just as in place as an old codger with flat cap and stick. It's trendy yet unpretentious.My only moan would be that there isn't that many child friendly caf├ęs. It caters more to an evening crowd with dingy pubs and trendy bars.
That said it's still a great place to visit with small people. George Street and the High Street (the two main roads) are pedestrianised and have a relaxed, easy feel about them. It's a bustling place but it's not rammed so it's easy to cart a pushchair about or let your kids run around a bit. Unfortunately some of the junk shops are too crammed full of goodies to fit in a pushchair but you can't have everything.
Not only is there the fabulous high street, there's the sea! There's also an aquarium, a mini steam train, working fish shacks, an art gallery and two funiculars - one takes you to Hastings castle, the other to Hastings country park, containing acres and acres of heather-filled chalklands overlooking the English channel
On this visit we only had time to visit the sea,pick round the shops and take a trip up one if the rickety old funiculars to the park. The little guy loved the sea. Sometimes you forget that small people don't need whistles and bells and plastic cramp or £20 entry play farms. They are happier playing with (and trying to eat) the stones by the sea.
He also loved the funicular trip. A funicular is basically a train carriage that is hauled up and down the cliff face. I'm sure it is safe! 
Next visit (I'm sure there will be many) we'll visit the aquarium and the art gallery.

Do this trip if you like:
Unpretentious cool
Heights
Fish and chips
A dip in the sea
Junkyards

Friday, 20 March 2015

lewes and seven sisters

Visiting Lewes was like a beacon of light to my weary death-by-suburbia soul. A brewery! Antique shops! Period houses! Stuff going on! And the little guy was as good as gold. Don't you find some days the timings with these small people just work - they nap when you want them to, they eat when you want them to. Bliss. Other days it all just conspires against you. Like when you take a trip to the dentist and book it when you think you will probably have time to wheel them round the block to have a nap, into the dentist chair, bob's your uncle. Done. But no, I.do.not.want.to.go.to.sleep. Yes I am tired but I'm not doing it. And now I will scream while you sit in that chair for 10 minutes. What's worse than going to the dentist? Going to the dentist while your baby wails in the corner. At least I couldn't hear the drill.

Anyway, Lewes. A good day. It really brightened up my soul. I felt like I "fitted" here. Some of my favourite shops included...

Closet and Botts
Chocablock full of beautiful old French-inspired (and authentic) homewares. None of this shabby chic heart frames guff. God I hate that. Very stylish shop.
Lewes Flea Market
Just about doable with a buggy (many antiques shops I could only peer into as they were too crammed full for me plus buggerlugs and his chariot to get access into. Loads of smaller stalls in here to wander round and lose yourself and your money to.

Cliffe Antiques Centre
Cliffe Street has the majority of antiques shops in Lewes. This was one I and his nibs could just about squeeze into.
Leadbetter and Good
Full of gorgeous independent homewares - ceramics, soaps, cards, tea towels, cushions plus interesting reads. Great for gifts.
Wickle
Don't let the name put you off. This is another homewares store but it sells toys and childrenswear too. Am now a sucker for kid's stuff (though I still do prefer buying from charity shops and nct fairs - I get more of a kick from baby boden if it's priced at 50p rather than £20. Funny that)

As I felt we were on a roll I braved driving onwards down to Seven Sisters Country Park. Seven Sisters is kind of like the white cliffs of Dover, but a bit nicer in my humble opinion. It really was a snapshot visit and I want to go back when I have more time (when?!) but I loved it immediately. It possibly helped that it was a gorgeous day but still. Note though I thought it didn't look far to walk down to the sea - just to see Beachy Head, and even as the minutes ticked on and little guy started to get whingy, I really, really wanted to just see the sea so I carried on. I ended up jogging down, spied the sea for one second, jogged back. Hardly the most relaxing walk in the world but I still loved it.
I'm sure I suffered from PND during the first four months (at least) of the little guy being born. It was getting out on days like this (rare but doable) that really really made me feel a bit more like me again, and even...happy.

Do this trip if you like...
Real ale
Beards
Fresh sea air
Junkyards
Olde Worlde
Castles
Admiring the view