You might think I work for the Tourist Board, but honestly, I don’t. Did you know that Eastbourne has just been designated the second most popular holiday destination in England (or was it the whole of the UK)? I feel priveleged to have lived here for almost 14 years of my life.
Apparently Eastbourne has one of the best sunshine records in the UK, along with the Isle of Wight (although it’s raining at the moment). Not only am I an English patriot but I also love my home town, Eastbourne. I don’t know whether I’m quite so proud to have been born in Hastings (Ore to be precise), but never mind?
Views of Holywell (Meads area)
Views of Sovereign Harbour
The first feature of Eastbourne I would like to focus on is the wonderful seafront. It varies from the ‘posh’ Holywell end of the town with its prestigious Meads residential area to the new East end of Sovereign Harbour with its interesting eateries and art shops. It’s lovely to park here (free) or cycle through it on the designated cycle route, or to walk around this new development and watch the boats coming in and out of, or just moored in the marina. I personally wouldn’t want to actually live here, as the houses are crowded in with very little space around them. We did look at a two-level show apartment a few years ago and it had the most amazing view of the Downs from the Beachy Head end towards Lewes. On the other side you could look out of the window and watch the boats sail past and if I remember rightly, it was even in our price range! Maybe in a few years time we will be ready for living in such a place, but we’re not quite there yet.
My personal feeling is that they have now overbuilt in the Sovereign Harbour area, the prices tend to be on the high side and there is always the risk of flooding even though there are active lock controls in place. They were supposed to have put more safeguards against flooding in place when they started building there, but it hasn’t been done yet. Also in the Sovereign Harbour area is a retail centre with an Asda, Matalan and lots of other shops. There is also a cinema complex should the weather turn bad and you want something else to do.
As you walk (or cycle) out of the Sovereign Harbour there is a seafront area known as Langney Point which is excellent for walking and exercising dogs, there is even a skate and BMX bike area near a public swimming pool. One can also watch the sailing boats, yachts and cabin cruiser boats coming in and out of the harbour, people working on their small fishing boats and surfers and windsurfers testing their skills at making the most of the winds and waves. There is an adventure playground for those of a more tender age and just over the busy seafront road is Princes Park with its boating lake and pleasant ambience.
Continuing in an Easterly direction you eventually come to the pier. For a year as a student I lodged on Marine Parade, about 100 yards from the pier and my wife, who I was then courting (what a good old-fashioned word that sounds now) lodged on the 7th. floor of Metropole Court nearby. Just beyond the pier you can appreciate the Carpet Gardens which look glorious most times of the year. You then approach the bandstand where there are still regular top military bands (they contain brass and woodwind, whereas brass bands only feature brass instruments) featured during the Summer season. I don’t think many seaside towns use their bandstands for such prestigious concerts any more, it’s become too expensive in these days of increasing austerity.
Terminus Road, which is part of the main shopping centre leads off the seafront and on the corner of the road by the seafront is a Harry Ramsden fish and chip shop. They have forbidden any other shops, apart from some ice-cream establishments to spoil or commercialize our wonderful seafront. There are mainly hotels and guest houses to be seen along the seafront itself.
The town centre itself has all the shops you could wish for, including Debenhams, T.J. Hughes, Marks and Spencer, W.H. Smith, Waterstones, Sussex Stationers and many others. There is also the Arndale Centre where you can window shop or buy (if you are in such a fortunate position) many different things, clothes, electronics, garden accessories and you can even get a cup of coffee at Shades or Starbucks. Bookstack is there with a good range of bargain books and CD’s and there is also a Sony shop, Early Learning Centre and HMV. I’m not really a shopaholic so I won’t go into any more detail.
Views of Beachy Head
Views of Arlington and Reservoir
For those who want to explore the area around Eastbourne, there is Beachy Head, (don’t pretend you can fly!), Arlington Reservoir, Drusillas and the nearby city of Brighton and County town of Lewes.
Congress Theatre & LPO connection
Oh, I mustn’t forget the culture. There are three theatres with good shows on, I’ve been to London Philharmonic Orchestra concerts there, they are there 4 or 5 times during the Winter season. They like to promote young up and coming artists, particularly violinists and pianists. As a student I saw the touring version of Godspell, Ivan Stepanov and his dancers, complete with balalaikas, Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky and Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’ performed by Kent opera.
Swan Lake Godspell Ballet
Out of all the seaside resorts I have visited in the UK I think Eastbourne is the best looked after and tidiest of all I have seen. No expense seems to be spared to keep it that way and the tourists keep on coming, no wonder it is the most popular holiday destination in England. A friend of mine, now no longer in this world, lived in Pevensey Bay and he used to go on holiday to one of the Eastbourne hotels in his 90’s, saying that he was off to the finest seaside resort in the world. He was of Czechoslovakian origin and had seen quite a slice of the world in his time, so I think he had a wide experience of different seaside holiday hot-spots.
I don’t think I’ll get my passport renewed, it ran out a while ago. Is it really £72.00 to renew it at the moment? I didn’t need an ID card, I know who I am anyway! Also, they’re a rip-off, especially if you don’t want to leave England. Give me England any day, especially Eastbourne.