A Travellerspoint blog

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Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

I can sum up our week in Eastbourne with one word - "alcohol"
Ok maybe we did do a couple of things in between drinks.

Firstly, what can I tell you about Eastbourne?
It's on the East Sussex coast, roughly half way between Brighton and Hastings.
It has beaches covered with pebbles and as a teenager I thought it was the most boring place to live 'cos it was filled with"old people". God's waiting room is what we used to call it. However, now I'm one of those "old people" myself and having lived away for the last 15 years I appreciate it more now. The town that's there now is mainly Victorian, although there has been a settlement there since the Bronze Age. It has all the things you'd expect a typical English seaside town to have, a shabby pier, copious fish 'n' chip shops, sea gulls the size of an albatross, a bandstand, a promenade and also the added bonus of a Dotto train and carpet gardens.




We arrived at Gatwick from Dublin at 5pm on Wednesday, however our day turned out to be the day from hell. I figure on an 8 week holiday there has to be one day that goes completely tits up and this was the day. I'm not going to go into it all here, but will explain everything when we see you all. Anyway we ended up planning to meet a few old friends in the pub about 2pm Thursday. It was great to see some of the old faces again (some older than others!) It was the first time any of them (except Mary) had met Susan. We hadn't had time for lunch before we went drinking and Susan was a little worse for wear after a few hours so we went for pizza with Caroline and Lydia, then we all went back to our apartment where Sarah and Lynne met us for another couple of drinks. First thing Susan said next morning was "Caroline got me drunk last night"

Next morning we took the open top bus up to Beachy Head. When I was a kid we used to go by foot, now the bus is the much more attractive option. We walked around for a while and Susan even ventured relatively close to the edge without freaking out too much. Took a look around the visitor centre then went into the pub for lunch. It was really windy while waiting for the return bus and rather than stand at the bus stop and wait Susan took shelter inside the telephone box, much to the amusement of two little old ladies who braved the harsh weather outside. It's usually windy at Beachy Head, a quick look at the way the trees grow proves that.



We met Caroline for a quick drink then we went out for dinner with some more friends. We stuffed ourselves with Chinese food, beer and wine, reminisced and made lewd jokes (I know you all find it hard to believe I would do that!)

We rolled into bed, tired and a little tipsy but happy after a great night in great company!

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Those Were The Days My Friend

Saturday morning Susan went for a massage, while I trawled the streets for an internet cafe.
We picked up a couple of Marks and Sparks sandwiches for lunch and headed back to the apartment to meet up with an old friend of mine.
I've known Hutch for about 20 years and we spent the afternoon catching up and laughing about the things we used to get up to in our younger days. I think there were some tears of laughter a few times that afternoon!

Sarah and Lynne came round and we went out for dinner and then headed off to the Hartington. This was the place I lost my misspent youth. I drank in this pub almost everyday for about 14 years. Many an all night session was spent here, sometimes I'd even go to work directly from an all nighter at the pub! There is no way I could do that now. Not many of the old crowd still go in there, I guess times change and the new generation takes over. I'm reminded a bit of the scene at the end of St Elmo's Fire where Emillio Estevez looks through the window and sees the new group of friends sitting laughing and drinking, just as he and his friends did a few years before. That is what the Hartington was like for me. As I sat with a group of my friends, I looked around and saw all the youngsters coming in, all looking far too young to be out at this time of night, let alone in a pub! (a sure sign of getting old) 25 years ago that was me, the young, loud, obnoxious teenager making fun of the old fogeys in the corner, now I AM the old fogey in the corner. I'm not sure if I should be sad, glad or maybe just philosophical about it. At least I'm still here 25 years later, quite of few of our group are not, either because of accidents or cancer. Over the past few days I'd learned that in the past few years at least 6 of the people I used to hang out with had died.
The Hartington itself has changed, in fact it's no longer called the Hartington, now it's The Hart of Eastbourne. It's been done up too, No longer the old carpet that used to stick to your shoes as you walked across it, no longer having to watch the men pee as you walked through the mens toilets to the back bar (we would sometimes stop and have conversations with them) still I guess it's all for the good and in another 25 years time the youngsters drinking there now will look back fondly on their times there too. Such is, as Elton John would say, the circle of life.

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Big Brekky and BBQ

Sarah and Lynne had stayed with us overnight so Sunday morning we had a traditional big English breakfast - eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding (Susan was the only one eating this!) mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans, bubble and squeak and toast. All washed down with tea, coffee and orange juice. Just a little something to start the day!

Mary had arranged a BBQ for the afternoon, so around 2ish we wandered down the seafront to her place. There were a few faces there I hadn't seen in years. A lot of the crowd that used to hang around together weren't there, for various reasons. Some had moved away, some were away on holiday, some had drifted away and lost touch and sadly some had passed away.

I was presented with a bottle of champagne and then told to scull it - which I gave my best attempt. We used to do drinking competitions and sculling competitions all the time, however not usually with champagne. Time and fizz took it's toll and I failed miserably.
We were all a little subdued that day, I think the last few days drinking and age had caught up to most of us, although Dawn didn't look a day older than she did in her 20's - a strict regime of gymnastics and liberal applications of gibbon placenta is her secret I think.




Our BBQ's used to go until 3am, this time we left about 8:30 and wandered back down the seafront to our apartment and an early night.

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Last Day in Eastbourne

We had planned to go to Brighton today but we got off to a slow start and didn't fancy rushing around. So we joined the old biddy's and caught the Dotto train along the Eastbourne seafront. We went down to the marina and stayed on for the return trip. We got off at Holywell for a cuppa, then back on the train to Wishtower.


We took a drive around the surrounding countryside and saw some of the villages that surround Eastbourne.
Most of these are places that we used to walk to when we were younger. We'd either walk across the Downs and stop for a picnic or have lunch in one of the village pubs. When we were planning this holiday I was hoping we'd be able to get a couple of walks in, but like everywhere we've been we just keep running out of time and don't get to do half what we hoped. We drove over Beachy Head and Birling Gap,then through Friston Forest, Alfriston, Jevington and Wilmington. We stopped to see the Long Man of Wilmington, which is carved into the chalk hills and over 120 ft tall. There is some dispute as to the origins of the man, ranging from a representation of a Druid from 3500 B.C to a 16th Century carving. Nowadays at dawn on May Day, Morris Men dance at the foot of the Long Man. Also on the Sunday nearest Pagan Festivals pagans gather at the foot of the Long Man to perform various rituals. During WW2 it was painted green so that it couldn't be spotted from the air by German pilots and used as a landmark.



In the evening we went round to Wendy's with Caroline and Lydia for one of Wendy's famous roast dinners. Lydia says Wendy's roasts are even better than her mums. I can safely mention this here 'cos it's highly unlikely Lydia's mum will read this and be hurt or offended. Now, I can't attest to the accuracy of this claim as I have never tried Lydia's mums roast, but I can say that Wendy's was delicious!!

Next day we took a drive to Brighton. We walked around the Lanes, which is one of my favourite parts of Brighton. Lots of little lanes (hence the name) with a myriad of shops and cafes. We went to see the Royal Pavilion, built by George IV when he was Prince of Wales. It was expanded a couple of times and most of what you see now was designed by John Nash. It was built in an Indian style and stands out among the mainly Regency style of the rest of Brighton. It is highly regarded, but personally I'm not keen. To me it sticks out like a sore thumb. I'd probably like it if I saw it in India, but in the middle of Brighton I don't think it fits. We took a short walk on Brighton Pier then headed back to Eastbourne via Pevensey Castle.





We stopped off and took a walk around Pevensey Castle. Originally the site of a Roman Fort the medieval castle, whose ruins are there now, were built around 1100 by William the Conquerors brother Robert, Count of Mortain.


It was our last day in Eastbourne, so we met up with a couple of friends for a quick "goodbye" drink then headed back home to pack, ready to leave early the next morning.

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Justified and Ancient

We left Eastbourne around 9:30 and set off for the long drive to Cornwall. We worked out it would take around 6 hours - more if we stopped along the way. Once we were on our way we decided to take a detour ( I mean what's an extra couple of hours when you're already driving for 6?) So we headed straight for Stonehenge, or as Terry calls them, building blocks. There's about as many theories as to who, when, how and why Stonehenge was built as there are visitors to it each year (about 1 million) but I can give you all the truth right now. The heavy bluestones were moved to the sight by Merlin, put in place by Dumbledore, used as a landing site for extraterrestrials, a burial site for King Arthur, a place of worship and human sacrifice and ultimately a tourist attraction and a place for new age hippies and neo pagans to gather for a picnic on the two solstices. Not much of this information actually makes it into the official guide book, but that doesn't mean it's not true!! Susan had been here before about 35 years ago and back then you could get right up to the stones and touch them. Now there are ropes around to stop you. There has been so much damage, you even used to be able to hire hammers from the nearby town to break off a piece and take home!! They reckon about 60% of the stones have been lost thanks to tourists (good job we're pilgrims)


Next stop on our "justified and ancient" tour was Old Sarum, the earliest settlement of what is now Salisbury, thought to have been around 3000 B.C. There's an old iron age fort,which has been used over the years by the Romans, the Saxons to fight of Vikings, the Normans and a palace for Henry I and other Plantagenet monarchs. A Norman cathedral was built but in 1219 it was demolished and a new one was built down near the river. The inhabitants of Old Sarum moved down to the New Town or New Sarum, which is now known as Salisbury. If anyone likes to read historical fiction, I recommend Edward Rutherfurd's "Sarum". I gave Susan his book on London to read before we came away and she really enjoyed it. I read a few of his and loved them all. I'll warn you in advance though, they are BIG books!!


We drove down to Salisbury and stopped for lunch and had a short walk around the town and the Cathedral. It really is a beautiful city. I'd been here once before when I was a kid, but I don't remember being particularly impressed by it then, funny how you see things differently as you get older. It is built on the banks of the river Avon and laid out in a grid fashion, around 1220. The walls around the city were built around the 14th Century. When the plague was raging in London in 1665/1666 Charles II moved his court here.




It was getting to late afternoon so we made this our last stop of the day and headed to Cornwall.
We arrived in Falmouth around 8:30pm, too late to start looking around so left exploring 'till the next day.

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