Somewhere between the luminescence of the amusements, the blankety warmth of George Street, and the Victorian grandeur of St. Leonards Gardens, I’ve come to love Hastings and St. Leonards. The coastal strip on which it is located gets a bad name for mistakes long made and a rumour that places by the sea are only good for seaside escapes and the elderly.
Upon moving to Hastings, I heard it all: ‘Hastings? As in…the Battle of Hastings? Why?’ and ‘Wouldn’t you be better off in London?’ to name a few. It’s not really the done thing to finish university and move to a small seaside town where you have no roots in your early 20’s. And maybe I wouldn’t have chosen to had the conditions for my job been different; but I’m so pleased I did.
The fact is, there’s always something going on here. From calendar staples like Bonfire Night, to the more surreal Jack in the Green, this friendly little town has more to offer than the best fish and chips.
Fresh to the town, I was initially bewildered by the welcoming tight-knit community and I shied away from the unknown. I wish I’d have thrown myself in at the deep end sooner! A talented bunch, the Hastings and St.Leonards community have everything from sports teams to wine tastings, gallery openings to folk music, and quality cover bands in the pub. Most recently, a local man on the beach directed us to the Observer Building for the Coastal Currents after-party. It was not unlike events I have attended in trendy East London and Digbeth in my university town of Birmingham. I would like to say thank you to our stranger as this party was unbelievable and we wouldn’t have found it otherwise!
A coffee lover, I spend my weekends meandering through St.Leonards and Hastings in search of the perfect flat white. Neither of the towns are short for variety in hot drinks and eateries, although I’ll leave it up to the reader to explore for themselves as I wouldn’t like you to miss out. Inside many of the cafes, people are happy to strike up conversation about whatever you’re reading. Or, if you prefer a glass of wine at the weekend, someone is bound to overhear your conversation and join in. Before you know it, you have more people to talk to; and you can rest assured you’ll bump into them again!
No matter where I am in Hastings or St. Leonards, and no matter how often I frequent the places I walk through, I always notice something new. Either I spent my first few months looking at the ground, or this is a small proof that the town I dreaded to move to is constantly evolving. To those who question my move, I challenge you to visit. Every one of my university pals living in the city has been pleasantly surprised when they’ve come to visit and I feel proud to show off where I live (not least because of my ‘crazy-cheap’ rent).
‘Keep Hastings Weird’ is something I’ve seen plastered across walls and I think whoever wrote it probably already knew all the secrets I’m only just uncovering. I’m excited to live here and I’m excited to keep living here. My social calendar and breadth of activities is ever growing and I can’t wait to unearth what else this historical seaside paradise is home to. Hopefully, I’ll become part of that tight-knit community I was initially too shy to talk to and find my perfect flat white!