Broadstairs and Eastbourne
At least once a month, Mrs P and I like to take a day trip and venture out away from suburban London, into the Southern counties of the UK. These excursions are mainly for leisure but they also serve as an opportunity to reconnoitre potential locations for a future move. As present we’re based in South East London, so a two-hour drive provides a wealth of interesting locations across Kent, East and West Sussex and Surrey. Travelling beyond these counties entails a longer drive and thus an overnight stay. Although we are not against such a thing, a simple day trip is more economical so is the more frequent choice. We like to visit English Heritage and National Trust sites, see local points of interest and natural beauty as well as try the local cuisine via local restaurants.
Early on in March we decided to visit Broadstairs, which is located on the Isle of Thanet in East Kent. It became a popular seaside resort in the 1850s with the development of the railways. The novelist Charles Dickens drew a great deal of inspiration from the town and its coast when writing David Copperfield. It boasts a lot of traditional architecture as well as an imposing beach front. Sadly the weather when we visited was both cold and wet and didn’t lend itself for much exploration on foot. We walked along the main promenade and took in the views before retreating to the Charles Dickens pub and having a splendid lunch of locally caught fish. We then drove along the coast to see the lighthouse at Joss Bay, and briefly view Kingsgate as well as Botany Bay.
Fortunately todays travels were far more successful as we were favoured with unseasonable warm spring weather. Having managed to find convenient and reasonably priced parking, we walked along the Grand Parade which is dominated by imposing Victorian Hotels and the ornamental flower beds which are all currently in bloom. We took in both the pier and then rested outside the Wish Tower, a fortification looking out to sea, that dates from the Napoleonic war. The view from here down across the beach was impressive. Having by now built up an appetite, we dined at the Rostick Restaurant, in Terminus Road. This is a splendid family run Italian establishment, offering traditional cuisine from the Abruzzo region of Southern Italy. The food was excellent, reasonably priced and the service was outstanding.
Later in the afternoon we visited The Story of Eastbourne Museum which provides a succinct overview of the town’s history from Roman times, through to its military significance during the Napoleonic War and then on to the Victorian Age where it established itself as a holiday resort and was extensively developed by the Duke of Devonshire. Finally we looked in at the beach front Pavilion which currently hosts the Eastbourne Remembers exhibition. This is an engaging and clever exploration of the concept of memories; what place they play in our lives and society and how they can be of invaluable historical contribution. It was a thought provoking and interesting way to end the day. Although we only scratched the surface of the various places of interest that Eastbourne (and previously Broadstairs) had to offer, we felt it that it was a day well spent. We are therefore looking forward to next month’s day trip and are already looking for a suitable location.