Hastings: 28 years later

I was born in Hastings but my family moved to the Westcountry when I was a toddler so I don’t remember much except the inside of our house and mixing paint at playgroup. 28 years later and living in London, I decided it was time I took a trip down memory lane.

I’ve heard so many good things about exciting new shops in the Old Town so armed with 91 Magazine‘s Vintage Lovers Guide to Hastings I hopped on the train and a couple of hours later I stepped blinking into the strong autumn sunshine.

My first stop was supposed to be Dyke & Dean but it turned out to be closed on Sundays (take note: it’s only open Thursday to Saturday). A little crestfallen and chastising myself for having become a presumptuous Londoner I pressed onto the Old Town where I hoped things would be a bit more lively!

Thankfully stop two – Butler’s Emporium (above)  – was well and truly open for business and inside I wasn’t disappointed. The walls are lined with tiny little drawers and the huge counter harks back to a bygone era when the shop was a hardware store. Unfortunately the lady behind it wouldn’t let me take any photos but I loved poking around the tableware, vintage prints, stationery and other lovely bits on offer.

A little further along George Street I stopped at Warp & Weft (above) a beautifully presented vintage clothes shop. You’ll find none of the usual ’70s kaftans and patterned polyester here – stylist Leida has selected chic and simple linen shirts, buttery leather boots and wafer-thin cotton undergarments that wouldn’t look out place thrown over a chair in Picasso’s studio.

Hendy’s Home Store (above) is the kind of shop that makes my heart beat faster. If you think Labour & Wait is good, then this – to be frank – is better. Over three rambling floors you’ll find Falcon enamel, Berylware, preserving jars (Kilner, Weck, Mason…), simple wooden scrubbing brushes, natural candles and all manner of other utilitarian and understatedly decorative goodies. Admittedly, the kind of stuff that looks amazing displayed all together and when you get it home – well – it’s just a vegetable brush – but that’s not the point. Oh, how I wanted it all!

After all the excitement I was in need of a dose of seaside air and a bite to eat to still my beating heart. Thankfully, Hastings seafront was right there with both. First, a fisherman’s roll from Tush and Pat’s up-ended boat at the bottom of East Hill lift.

A fisherman’s roll (in case you’re wondering) is a fluffy white bap stuffed with two pan-fried fillets of fish rescued from being tossed back into the ocean. Mine was dab which I’d never tried before – and it was delicious!

Onwards to the beach where I got a bit snap-happy with my camera. The light was so stark and strong the colours looked amazing.

Hastings doesn’t have the prettiest beach in the world but the tangled nets, scattered lobster pots, circling seagulls and other fishing paraphernalia are undeniably photogenic in a practical kind of way. I loved picking my way between the boats with the crash and drag of waves on pebbles in the background.

A very ordinary name for a fishing boat, but I thought Sandra’s vivid colours and peeling paint made her the prettiest of all.

{all Decorator’s Notebook}

This post is already much too long but I couldn’t resist finishing it with some of Hastings’ famous net huts. These tarred, weatherboarded buildings have been a feature of the shoreline for hundreds of years when they were built by the town’s fishermen to store and mend their nets and sails. In the 1930s the council limited the area allowed for each hut to eight square feet – in response the fisherman built upwards, giving them their distinctive tall, thin appearance.

Wearily I headed back up to the train station – sea air in my lungs and a windswept blush on my cheeks. I’m so pleased to have finally made the trip and discovered a new vintage-lovers haven.

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  1. says

    Oh this looks lovely! Cleo goes there a lot and loves it, and I too have long meant to go. Great photos too. I went to Southend at the weekend which was terrific, but in a totally different way! x

  2. says

    I had the same experience in Butler’s Emporium. I think they’re missing a trick! I didn’t love Hastings but food in Hendy’s home store was great.

  3. says

    Such a shame you didn’t come to see our traditional etching studio on the High Street! (www.ryepress.com). Glad you enjoyed your visit – Hastings has lots to offer – our love of all things vintage blends nicely into our obsession with all things arty. It’s a diverse yet supportive community and we love it!

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