New to East Sussex, Hannah Collins shares her favourite spots in the county.
There are lots of things I love about East Sussex, and in many ways I feel more of a pull towards it than I do my home county of North Yorkshire (but don’t tell them that!). I’ve only lived here for just over a year, but I’ve been visiting for about 14 years.
It feels like home and we are all really glad we made the move. So, here are my top five things I love about East Sussex (in no particular order because I couldn’t really choose a favourite):
1. Battle – I love the shops and tea rooms and the whole town has a feeling of history about it. My favourite shop in the town is Steamer Trading; when I first started visiting I was a mere student with no kitchen of my own so I have grown up lusting after some of the beautiful things they sell, and one day I will be able to afford to fill my kitchen with them all. There are lovely tea shops too, so you can enjoy a cake and a drink and watch the world go by in the shadow of one of the most significant historical events of English history.
2. Hastings Old Town and seafront – again, I love the quirky shops in the Old Town and the art galleries in the a High Street. And who doesn’t love the sea? Even on a cold day it is guaranteed to make me smile. My favourite thing to do is to park on Old London Road then walk down through High Street and then onto the front. My oldest girl loves to spend some pennies in the arcade and we often stop for lunch at Eat@the Stade. It’s really family friendly, the food is great (even my mum doesn’t complain!), and it’s a great location for watching the world go by. From there we walk along the front as far as we feel capable. On my most adventurous days I have been as far as Marine Court in St Leonard’s but usually a stroll as far as the Pier suffices, to see how the rebuilding works are progressing. When I was growing up we didn’t go to the coast very often, so for me it’s lovely to be able to pack a few bits up and jump in the car to pop for a walk by the seaside. If we haven’t eaten at the Stade we sometimes treat ourselves to fish and chips, usually from The Blue Dolphin, which my husband has always said sells the best fish and chips in the Old Town. We usually make sure we walk up or down All Saints Street, which is a real mix of history. The houses are quirky and many of them are hundreds of years old.
3. All the beautiful historic places – Bodiam Castle and Batemans are two of my favourite National Trust properties. Both very handy for us to have a quick stroll around either at the weekend or after school. I am fascinated by history and literature, so love being able to indulge both of these so close to home. Bodiam is lovely whatever the weather, we often wrap up warm in the winter and go to imagine what it would be like to live in a huge castle in the cold. And Batemans is one of those rare National Trust houses that you could imagine actually living in. Once you’re there you feel you could be anywhere, it’s no wonder that Kipling fell in love with the house and its location.
4. Bexhill seafront – I just love the seaside! Bexhill is great because it’s a bit quieter than Hastings which makes it good for scootering or cycling for my four-year-old. She loves the water fountains at the De La Warr pavilion and the play equipment on the front. She can also lose many an hour in Egerton Park. We park right on the front and just walk. I love that all the blocks of flats are named after islands.
5. The green – many people think of the south as overpopulated but a drive around rural East Sussex proves that is not the case. My Saturday afternoons are often spent driving through little villages and hamlets as we go cross country to various cricket matches with my husband. They nearly all have village greens and the area surrounding them is beautiful.