A weekend in Eastbourne

A weekend in Eastbourne

To coincide with and celebrate my birthday, my wife once again suggested we go away and let me choose where to go. I suggested Eastbourne and that is where we stayed the weekend just gone.

According to Wikipedia: “Eastbourne is a town and seaside resort in East Sussex, on the south coast of England, 19 miles (31 km) east of Brighton and 54 miles (87 km) south of London. Eastbourne is immediately east of Beachy Head, the highest chalk sea cliff in Great Britain and part of the larger Eastbourne Downland Estate. The seafront consists largely of Victorian hotels, a pier, theatre, contemporary art gallery and a Napoleonic era fort and military museum. Though Eastbourne is a relatively new town, there is evidence of human occupation in the area from the Stone Age. The town grew as a fashionable tourist resort largely thanks to prominent landowner, William Cavendish, later to become the Duke of Devonshire. Cavendish appointed architect Henry Currey to design a street plan for the town, but not before sending him to Europe to draw inspiration. The resulting mix of architecture is typically Victorian and remains a key feature of Eastbourne. As a seaside resort, Eastbourne derives a large and increasing income from tourism, with revenue from traditional seaside attractions augmented by conferences, public events and cultural sightseeing. The other main industries in Eastbourne include trade and retail, healthcare, education, construction, manufacturing, professional scientific and the technical sector. Eastbourne’s population is growing; between 2001 and 2011 it increased from 89,800 to 99,412. The 2011 census shows that the average age of residents has decreased as the town has attracted students, families and those commuting to London and Brighton. In June 2019, the population of Eastbourne was estimated to be 104,042.

As a boy, my parents took me and my sister for a holiday in Brighton and one day they decided that we should visit Eastbourne. Other than cliffs, my memories of that visit are tiny, other than feeling happy with that day excursion and it was that what influenced my decision. The journey according to SatNav was a little over two hours, although because of a diversion it took us three. We were early enough arriving that after surveying the coastal part of Eastbourne we ended up at the Beachy Head hotel restaurant for breakfast (good but not great). After which, we decided to explore, finding out there was no shortage of walks we can do and plenty of people (often young – so much Eastbourne being for old dears like me only) and while my walking days are these days limited, this gentle walk with outstanding views definitely wowed us!

We checked in at our hotel (Afton) – there being many hotels to choose from (we got this via Booking.com). The hotel was nice but not worth the £100 we paid to stay. One drawback, but no fault of the hotel, was we had to go some way to find street parking, for which a permit was given. We did have a view over the pier and out to sea, also nice, as were the staff. Before going out in the evening, we walked along the promenade and enjoyed the experience without and expectation of doing anything other than enjoy God’s good nature and lots of fresh air. Another highlight, for me anyway, was eating out. Not much more than a hundred yards away was a road with restaurants specialising with cuisine from around the world. We fancied two of the Indian restaurants but they were full and so made Mr Hau’s Oriental Express our choice, who could just squeeze us in. I mention this, noting as a restaurant reviewer I don’t often get wowed, but I did in this case and in all departments.

We decided the next day to revisit Beachy Head and do another walk (probably the highlight of our stay) before returning home by the scenic route, deciding to take in two more seaside towns: Hastings and Folkestone (but not persuaded to get out of our car, noting as with Eastbourne there was little car parking). We enjoyed the ride and the sightseeing and I particularly loved the various old worldly churches, quaint shops, village cricket pitches and people out and about enjoying the fine summer weather, a wistful reminder of how English life once was. We arrived home late afternoon via a Toby Carvery, grateful we had packed a lot in two days and for this break. Having got Eastbourne out of my system, besides Felixstowe (which remains our favourite UK get away) for me, deciding where to go, it will be either Poole or Herne Bay (both providing good memories).


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