In case you’ve never heard of it, Eastbourne is a quiet town on the south coast of England, a short train ride away from (the far more exciting) Brighton. It has a glowing reputation as both ‘God’s waiting room’ and the place where Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging was filmed. Unless you’re a pensioner on a coach trip from Yorkshire for a week by the seaside, it’s not exactly a coveted holiday destination, but for the sake of this article, I have decided to try and look at my hometown in a different light and extol its virtues for the younger traveler.
Probably the most obvious Eastbourne attraction for holidaymakers is the beach. If you’re hoping to make sandcastles then you may be left disappointed, as until the tide goes out there’s no sand, just pebbles. This also makes sunbathing a slightly uncomfortable experience. However, if you prefer a more active seaside pastime then you’re in luck, as the beachside promenade stretches from one end of the town to the other, starting in the harbour and ending at the foot of the cliffs, including the famous Beachy Head. You can spend the day walking by the sea and stopping off at various highlights along the route.
One such highlight is Eastbourne Pier, built in the late 1800s and arguably one of the most famous in the country. Up until 2014, the Victorian structure hosted a large amusement arcade filled with classic games such as penny drop machines, but it was sadly destroyed in a fire in the summer of that year. Nowadays, visitors to the pier mainly go for the views, the chip shop and the tearoom, and less so for the slightly dodgy nightclub at the end.
A visit to the seaside isn’t complete without an ice cream, and in Eastbourne the best place to find one is Fusciardi’s. If you’re after a simple 99 then that’s fine, but the parlor is most well-known for its wide array of flavoured ice creams. In the height of summer, you’ll find the queue stretching out the door with people waiting to try out such flavours as bubble-gum, tiramisu, or After Eight mint. Once you’ve decided what weird and wonderful combination you’d like, they pile it high in a waffle cone for you to sit on the beach and enjoy.
Not a fan of being by the seaside? There are a couple of other things to do Eastbourne that you may find more appealing if you know where to look. Unless you’re a local, you may not know where to find Grove Road, a small street in the town centre just away from the main shopping mall. It is a hidden gem of independent cafes, restaurants, and shops, perfect if you’d rather support local businesses than large chains. Beanzz coffee shop is the place to get your daily caffeine fix, as well as a light lunch or a slice of homemade cake. If you have any special dietary requirements this is the ideal spot for you, as there is always an amazing selection of vegan and gluten-free cakes and sandwiches, as well as a choice of dairy-free milks. The street also boasts a great burger restaurant, a bar with regular live music events, several vinyl record shops and a range of independent clothes stores.
On the other hand, for those who’d rather get out of town, Eastbourne is parked right on the edge of the South Downs National Park which stretches all the way to Winchester. This is a great place to go for a quiet drive, but if you’re feeling brave enough to tackle the steep hills then it’s better to walk, as you can stop off at the pubs, such as the one at Beachy Head. Morbidly known for being an infamous suicide spot, Beachy Head cliff provides a breath-taking vantage point for overlooking the town and the lighthouse – as long as you’re careful not to stand too near the crumbling edge! Birling Gap is another beautiful destination in the park not too far from Eastbourne. Steps lead down the cliff to a small beach, which is especially beautiful in the evening as the sun sets and the sky turns brilliant shades of pink and lilac.
As sceptical as I may be about the attractions of my hometown, I have to admit that if you fancy a day out by the seaside then Eastbourne is a pretty good place to head to. It may not be the most glamorous location, but it boasts some impressively beautiful views and is home to some of my favourite cafes and coffee shops in the world. Why not go check it out?