By Jessica Courtney Bennett

As we all know, there is nothing like a bracing wind to blow the cobwebs away and make you think about new beginnings. This new year challenge yourself, start something new or take a leap of faith on the Coastal Culture Trail.

In 2016 I have decided to forget the empty promises of eating lettuce for a month and instead improve my cooking and shop more sustainably. On the Coastal Culture Trail there’s not one, but two cookery schools helping you to do just that.

Collection Store by Rob Walker at Towner

Collection Store by Rob Walker at Towner

Starting at The Cookshelf in Eastbourne, Kate offers a range of lessons all reasonably priced that show you the basics of pasta making to bread baking to preparing tapas for a party. The Cookshelf is tucked away behind Townhouse and serves up delicious coffee to add to the experience.

In Hastings Classroom on the Coast takes things a step further. Specifically set up to support the neighbouring fishing community, this cookery school celebrates sustainable fish and what’s more important, shows you how to do it justice. During one of their classes you will visit the fish markets in along Rock-A-Nore and be given lessons in preparing fish as well as cooking it.

That’s my tummy taken care of, now I need to work it off. Last summer I cycled the coast and enjoyed watching the activity taking place out to sea. I’ve always enjoyed a dip, but this year I’m trying something a little more vertical – paddle board classes. Buzz Active in Eastbourne offer taster courses and make trying water sports easy by proving you with all the gear.

For something a bit drier, why not visit Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, who are hosting Tai Chi classes in their exhibition spaces or the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, where you can get involved with Dance Horizons.

The New Year always fills me with ambitions for self-improvement and this year I intend to connect with my creative side and become more practical.

La La Rookh Workshop

La La Rookh Workshop

I find out about a haberdashery, La La Rookh, in St Leonards where they run a huge programme of dress making and sewing classes. Learn the basics or improve your knowledge with on hand help with tricky stiches and hems. There are day workshops, courses and a summer school for kids plus vintage fabrics to inspire your latest creation.

I also book myself on to a number of day courses at Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, including their hands on conservation workshop taking place in March and the Art Store Tour to get behind the scenes experience of their inspiring collection. At Jerwood Gallery again I look into learning more about local artist John Bratby with workshops to compliment his latest exhibition.

2016 is shaping up to be the year of improvement and pleasure. Baby steps will take me along the coast making me a healthier, happier and more culturally minded person. If I happen to fall of the wagon and enjoy the best food and drink that the county has to offer, who’s to blame me? So much choice and a whole year making it my mission to enjoy it.


Classroom on the Coast 

Tai Chi 

Bratby Self Portrait Family Workshop 

Bratby Adult Workshop with Jo Kori

La La Rookh Workshop


Dance Horizons at De La Warr Pavilion


The Cookshelf

Buzz Active 

Towner Art Gallery