We formulated a rolling wish list for when lockdown eased. Visiting beaches was high up there.
The girls love beaches; shingle, sandy or rocky, it doesn’t matter. For post-April 12th of the Easter holidays – as restrictions began to lift – we booked an AirBnB in St Leonards, East Sussex.
A change from four walls
It was fever pitch excitement all round just for the fact we were getting a change of scene for a few days. Having the freedom to travel for an hour and a half to a different location suddenly felt amazing.
It was wonderful to be right on the seafront and have great views from our accommodation. Pool and ping pong tables really made it for the kids. It was big on holiday vibes.
Aside from the beaches at Hastings and St Leonards, which have plenty of facilities, eateries and things to do, we also visited Camber Sands and Pevensey Bay (which is where William the Conqueror landed in 1066).
Camber Sands is unique out of these for having a sandy beach and great dunes to explore and have a game of hide and seek in. We played French cricket and boule and had cocktails, ice-cream and fish and chips on the beach.
Whilst the arcades of Hastings were still shut, there was plenty to entertain. The girls are big fans of adventure golf and the three courses didn’t disappoint. The trampoline park was a hit as was the pier. We were able to go into non-essential shops again so the girls were able to satisfy another wish list entry: visiting an antique shop; St Leonards and Hastings Old Town boast many. It was so nice to be able to peruse.
Hastings pier, which was almost completely destroyed by a fire in 2010, was rebuilt in 2016. It has the seaside attractions that our kids love, but additionally it’s a beautifully designed communal space. It actually won the accolade of Britain’s best new building in 2017.
We always like to explore the area and visit places of interest, and when you’re in 1066 country it has to be done.
Battle Abbey and Battlefield (English Heritage)
We went to Battle Abbey and Battlefield, one of England’s most significant historic sites, to find out more about the Battle of Hastings, which took place there.
It’s a great place to visit and you can really envisage what happened with the aide of the information provided (pitched at levels suitable for both kids and adults). We built on our knowledge and the kids had a great time. They learnt a lot, enjoyed the playground and Easter trail (and the sizeable chocolate bar they received for completing it).
Pevensey Castle (English Heritage)
It was through our visit to Battle Abbey that we found out about Pevensey Castle, the actual place William the Conqueror landed in 1066 and one of the last Roman ‘Saxon Shore’ forts. It’s not a ‘fairytale’ castle but it’s really engrossing; the scale is amazing and you can learn everything from its significance in Roman times to its important role in the Second World War.
National Trust – Bateman’s
Bateman’s is a lovely 17th century house set in the beautiful Sussex Weald. It was bought by Rudyard Kipling in 1902 and he remained there with his family until his death in 1936. It was really nice just walking the grounds and doing the activities of the Easter trail (you even got your egg upfront!). We also spent plenty of the time in the natural playground and the girls had their first NT lunch boxes in a long time! We even managed to meet up with a friend, who was in the area at the time 🙂
Eating out – al fresco
Then of course there was eating out for the first time in four months… Something we were all very excited about.
As there was still no indoor dining allowed, I’d booked a few places in advance; limited outdoor space makes it rather competitive. We got used to being flexible on the times we ate and adapted to eating al fresco at an average of 7c!
Our favourite places were:
La Bella Vista (St Leonards) – for contemporary Italian food
Goat Ledge (St Leonards) – for great breakfasts and evening cocktails
Gurkha Chef (St Leonards) – for wonderful Nepalese food
The Globe Inn Marsh – for lovely gastropub grub and a massive gin menu
It was an absolute tonic and we’re looking forward to another trip away when we can.