Hastings - And the Battle to keep the kids happy!
I am obsessed, obsessed with all things Interiors, design and creativity! I could sit on Pinterest for hours looking at beautifully curated homes and Instagram has given me the opportunity to peak inside equally obsessed interior enthusiasts like me! But, I have another passion. I love travel, adventure and exploring the UK and further afield. Thing is, I am also hugely indecisive and very lastmintue.com which doesn’t bode well for getting the family out of the door on new adventures! So, I decided to put it to the public vote every week on Instagram where we would visit, using the hashtag #wheretonowthen (I’m Cornish, it makes sense down there 😊) and for the first vote we decided on Hastings vs Eastbourne. Hastings (unlike in 1066) won!
I don’t want this to be a travel blog as such, my obsession with Interiors is far too strong! More of an overview of the places we visit with (hopefully) beautiful scenery, architecture and the omnipresent “how to keep the kids happy”. Because I am a Mum foremost! And Hastings did not disappoint.
As soon as I told Mr B that Hastings was the favourite, you could see his face light up with glee! Next thing I know, he’s on Amazon, ordering Knight outfits for himself and the kids and it’s a whole different trip to the one I had planned! We were going via Battle so we could re-enact the famous combat of 1066! An Abbey was built on the site of the original battle and the Benedictine Abbey still partially stands today. We spent a few hours walking around the English Heritage site, getting stuck in the mud (and the kids losing their wellies) and had a picnic in the drizzle, overlooking the hills where the actual battle took place. A truly British day out! 😊
We made our exit through (as all parents will know) the dreaded gift shop and when my Son started having a complete melt down because we wouldn’t let him have a lollipop the size of his head, we knew it was time to head to Hastings. We parked down by the sea front and could already see there was plenty to do for all the family, including an Aquarium, Tate Gallery, Cliff lifts, fun fair and museums. I left Mr B with the kids at the entrance of the Aquarium and hotfooted it away. I wasn’t here to see fish, I wanted to see the Old Town, complete with ancient architecture, narrow alleyways and most importantly, the amazing vintage, antique and homeware shops. It did not disappoint!
I headed into the heart of the Old Town and stumbled across All Saint’s Street. Here you can find beautiful timber framed buildings, some dating back to 1450 and some of the oldest surviving homes in the Old Town. I then carried on through the little alleyways until I came to High Street and what a delightful place it was! Full of bric-a-brac, antique, vintage and (my new favourite kind of shop) rummage shops, with cafes, restaurants, old pubs and clothing stores thrown in. Some of these shops have probably been in the same families for generations and I had a wonderful conversation with an elderly owner who told me how surprised he was how business had picked up in recent years. This was after he nearly hit me with an antique broom because I was taking photos of his fascinating shop, shouting “I’m fed up with people treating this store like a joke!”, and I had to explain to him, on the contrary Sir, I think your shop is amazing and want to share!
But, my absolute favourite shop had to be A. G. Hendy & Co. It came highly recommended, but I did not expect what I found inside. It was like walking into a different world, a world that existed centuries ago when a scullery, broom cupboard and pantry were just as important as a kitchen. The store belongs to Alistair Hendy, a famous Chef, food and travel photographer and an author. His Grandparents lived just outside Hastings so he spent many weekends and holidays staying near the town. He has authentically restored the old Georgian building into a beautiful Homeware Store where you can shop, eat and even enrol on one of the many food, travel writing and styling photography courses. The shop itself sells everything from brooms to teapots, toilet brushes to apple corers and is pure vintage heaven.
I spent so long in A. G. Hendy, it left me little time to run around the other parts of the Old Town and so I made a quick dash down to George Street, a pedestrian area with even more delightful stores, restaurants and pubs, before heading back to meet Mr B and the kids. I walked past a memorial garden where the old Swan Inn used to stand until it was destroyed with considerable loss of life by a German fighter-bomber in 1943 and a beautiful blossoming tree stood in its place. I popped into Butlers Emporium, another exquisite shop where their products were displayed on rustic vintage and antique furniture. I wanted to nip into a pub for a quick pint, but alas! Mr B had the kids on the miniature railway which runs along the sea front and they were heading my way, so my time was up! 😊
I loved every minute of our visit to Hastings and we only touched the east side of the city, but it had it all! Architecture, quaint little pubs and restaurants, amazing homeware stores that you wouldn’t expect to see outside of London and of course, a funfair, beach, aquarium and the smell of fish and chips following you around like a moth to a flame! Well, it is a seaside town and I would have been disappointed not to see an amusement arcade or crazy golf pitch backing onto the beach. We shall definitely go back... now what date is the Guinness World Record for the most pirates in one place being held this year?