A quick bite to eat at Victoria Station’s Weatherspoon pub and I left London behind.
The lovely Victoria Station. I’d so love to see a flashmob here!
Eggs Benedict and a coffee – 4 pounds! Good old Weatherspoon’s.
My train journey down to Hastings was entertaining. The closer we got to the seaside, the more pirates boarded the train. Pirate Day in Hastings draws a huge gathering from all over southern England, and it was amusing watching the reactions of people on the train who were unaware of this event. A group of university students sat across from me, heading to the beach for the day. They were gutted when I told them what it was about – they would have loved to join in. I arrived at Hastings station with much excitement and a little bit melancholy. I felt like I’d arrived home, six months of living in the Old Town three years ago has endeared me to this town more than I ever imagined. I decided to walk through the town centre to get to my b and b in the Old Town, to familiarize myself again with this lovely town. Pirate’s Day was in full swing, families filled the streets with an amazing array of pirate outfits and drumming teams played in the town centre.
Music to my ears – I’ve missed the drumming teams of Hastings.
A Pirate’s Boat sat proudly on display in the Shopping Centre square – donated by a baseball team in the US – a bit random. Rumour has it that it was so big they had nowhere to store it, heard about Pirate’s Day and happily gave it away!
The donated Pirate Ship. Where will it be stored? -It’s not seaworthy.
One of many beautiful churches in town
I trundled through George Street in the Old Town. By now it was swarming with pirate characters all getting into the spirit of the day (ie: drinking).
Getting into the spirit of things, and the spirits as well! Not sure how the white beach crocs fit into a pirate theme, but anything goes here
One of the many characters – Sharon, as mad as a hatter!
A real peg leg! Just had to snap this photo
Two of many Captain Jack Sparrows and one of their wenches
My b and b was located on the corner of the two main streets of the Old Town, so right in the heart of everything. My room was located on the top floor, three flights of stairs up, so I was grateful when the owner offered to carry my suitcase.
My lodgings for three nights – top right windows – great views of the sea
I just had time to change into my pirate’s outfit and head up High Street to pop into Shirley Leaf and Petal Shop to say hello to my old landlady, who I hadn’t seen for almost three years. How lovely to see her again! She was looking so well, and her hair had grown to a beautiful length of thick waves – she was going through a bout of chemo when I was last there, so had no hair and wore hats constantly. We arranged to meet for dinner on Tuesday night for a proper catch up.
A quick break to cool down with a sangria in between friend catch ups
Grabbed a couple of ‘pirate’ accessories (a scabbard and bandana) and headed back down to the b and b to meet up with my dear friend Suzannah and head off to celebrate Pirate’s Day. She looked as beautiful as ever. Grabbed a beer and wandered down to the beach, settling on the shingles to watch the pirate skydivers jump from their plane. (Pirate’s have obviously come a long way since the days of sailing on the high seas). Quite a spectacle.
One of six skydiving pirates who landed on the beach
Thirsty work being a pirate!
The beautiful Suzannah
Surprised to see an Australian flag on a catamaran pull up in front of us
Suzannah is one of those gorgeous outgoing souls that everyone in the town knows and loves, so we had a fabulous afternoon moving from one area to the next, with me being introduced to new friends along the way. And getting drunker with each meandering – it was a great afternoon.
About to head off on our Old Town pub crawl
I learnt a valuable lesson on my first visit to the loo – remove sword from belt before you sit down! I barely avoided a serious accident! By six o’clock we decided that food was in order, to soak up some of the alcohol and prepare us for the night time shenanigans. Off to the most popular fish and chippie in town – The Mermaid – where of course the owner was great friends with Suzannah. Our bill was taken care of at the finish of our meal. That was nice. Bands were playing everywhere, we just wandered from one pub or bar to another, having a laugh along the way. I don’t think there was one stop where Suzannah didn’t know someone there.
Great local bands played all afternoon
They were everywhere!
Who’s a lucky girl?
Where would a Pirate Day be without a mermaid?
They do say animals resemble their owners…
When you can’t find a parrot…
Another great character at one of the pub stops
Bird poo – from a fake parrot!
By eleven o’clock I finally said my goodbye’s and headed back up George Street to my lodgings. I encountered a ‘bit of a treat’ that still gets my heart pumping. I had to scramble my way through a group of the ‘Captain Jack Sparrow’ lookalikes and a couple of guys in civvies chatting to them. I repeated this exercise three times to have another look – one of the guys in civvies I swear on my mother’s grave was Johnny Depp. Yes, the real Johnny Depp! And I’ll never know why I just didn’t front up to him and ask if he was who I thought he was! Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem being so bold – I guess I was a little star struck. So unlike me! I missed my chance completely! I’m still waiting for my friend to investigate if he was the real deal – he has been known to randomly turn up to events incognito, is a great fan of the Pirate’s Day celebrations and owns a property in nearby Rye. So I’m happily indulging my fantasy that it was him – anyone that knows me will know that he is my number one celebrity crush!
My last encounter with the gorgeous JD at Pirate’s Day 2010 – was he the real thing?
The following days were spent meeting up with my other good friend Sharon and her daughter Jess and catching up on three years events. One morning I gained access to my old flat and cleared some belongings out of the attic, leaving a lot of household goods there for Brenda, my landlady to use at her will. Another dinner with her at the Hastings Arms hotel, lunch again with Sharon at the Land of Green Ginger, a great little vegetarian cafe with a lovely garden setting, and delicious cakes.
‘Piece of Cheese’ house – the only three sided house in the UK – one of my favourite buildings
Sinnock Square, a little square with cute houses, accessed via a ‘twitten’
Love the irony of the sign, and the cat at the door
My final day was spent wandering the length of the Stade (an old Saxon word meaning landing place), the beach area along the road known as the ‘Rock a Nore’, searching for discarded winkle and cockleshells. I plan on creating a ‘memory jar’ of Hastings when I return home – with bits of shingle, shells and mementos of Pirate’s Day. Couldn’t find any shells – all the fish kiosks had discarded them already. I love this part of town – so much history amongst the fishing huts and old boats. It is the only ‘beach launched’ fishing fleet in the United Kingdom.
‘Winkle Island’ with its beautiful metal sculpture by local artist Leigh Dyer
The Old Court Hall, constructed c1450, believed to be the oldest building in Hastings
A retired fishing boat with net huts behind on Rock a Nore
The only beach launched fishing fleet in the UK
East Hill Lift on Rock a Nore – steepest funicular in Europe
My beloved Hastings beach and burnt out pier – about to be rebuilt
Met up with Suzannah again at her flat where I left a bag of personal things from my old flat that I wanted sent home – including my ‘pirate boots’ I’d stuffed in my suitcase for that one occasion! We headed into the town centre for lunch before my train departure. Of course, on our arrival at her favourite restaurant we were greeted by a couple of her good friends, a chap from New Zealand who treated us to a bottle of French Rose, and a charming French man who declared that he was following me to Tasmania to woo me – ahh the French, they are so good at swooning!
I said my goodbyes to Suzannah with promises of visiting each other more often, and was on my way back up to London. I had an overnight stay in Greenwich before the start of my European coach tour.