B and B in Bexhill – a jaunt to East Sussex
Bexhill-on-sea was the site of the second death in the A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie, and that was all I knew about the place. It was many hours drive from Cheltenham – but I’d bought tickets for a concert last July due to my younger daughter’s enthusiasm for Regina Spektor. Flashing through the villages of Kent on the way there, the winding country lanes were dotted with fruit stalls of strawberries, raspberries and cherries, befitting a county known as the garden of England.
We (my sister and the teens) were given a warm welcome at the slightly old-fashioned, but spotlessly clean Park Lodge Bed & Breakfast (run by Liverpudlians). It was very central, next to a lovely park and one street back from the sea front. We strode out to explore, noting the queue at Di Paolo’s tea room for homemade gelati.
The town has seen better days and its obscurity is underlined by the fact there was not a branded chain name to be seen. Too sleepy and run-down for multi-national coffee houses to consider. However, the faded nature was not depressing or threatening and Bexhill must have been a hot spot at some point to justify the building that dominates the seafront. A jewel of a 1930’s Modernist building – The De La Warr Pavilion. We went in for a cuppa and the tea was almost blown out of our cups by the wind on the narrow outside terrace; very amusing.
Even more entertaining for all the wrong reasons was the exhibition curated by Turner prize winner Mark Leckey called The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things. I am well-known in my family for my enthusiasm and will find an inspiring angle about nearly anything, especially if it’s related to art. Maybe I was in the wrong mood for this, but it left me cold. Stone cold. I felt it was such a random collection of really terrible things. There was no beauty for sure, but I didn’t even find it thought-provoking. To quote my teens “the objects weren’t odd enough to mean anything” and “they were too mundane to provoke any reaction bar confusion.” It was almost as if that was the point for me; the universal inaccessibility of dumb objects arranged in a big white space. The only thing that remains in our consciousness is a video of ‘jelly bean’ man which was like ‘Telly Tubbies on acid’ (another teen quote). I did love the sculpture on the roof because they juxtaposed with the incredible sea view and you had to fight the wind to stay upright.
Eating out in Bexhill on Sea
….is the best place to eat by far if the hoards of happy diners filling the place is anything to go by. I can only go on impressions as it was fully booked from 6pm in the evening. It was the only place that wouldn’t look out of place in more affluent town and there was a terrific buzz about it.
De La Warr Pavilion Café Bar and Kitchen
Avoid eating here if there is a big event. They really couldn’t cope on the night of the Regina concert and people were waiting for over an hour. However the food was simple, well-cooked hot and good from a limited menu for that evening – ‘Brighton Rock’ battered local fish served with seasoned chips, pea puree and homemade tartare sauce, roasted tomato and olive pasta and homemade pizza, served in a clean open space by nice, friendly, young staff with the best view. The menu changes often and ranges from homemade sausages to tagines plus it’s licensed.
…looked bright, clean, modern and welcoming (I’m afraid the Nepalese restaurant opposite didn’t). Closed on the day we were there or it would have been our next choice. Well reviewed on Trip Advisor too.
Di Paolo’s Restaurant
…go there for their homemade ice-cream.
Tea Beside the Sea
A charming shabby chic tea room with a great selection of homemade cakes and a fantastic view as it’s inside the colonnade right on the beach below the pavilion.
Things I liked about Bexhill on Sea
Walking along the beach early in the morning and this selfie.
The blocks of retirement flats named after Caribbean islands.
Miles of beach huts, some ramshackle and labyrinthine, some resembling garages, many unused.
The old, red brick rowing club building, now sadly in decline (although the club itself thrives).
Small wind-swept dogs being walked along the pebble beach.
Modern planting and driftwood-inspired landscaping along the front (promenade?)
Egerton Park, next to our B&B, which had an outdoor gym: such a brilliant idea.
The beautiful clean lines of De La Warr Pavilion beautifully restored as an arts centre (narrowly saved from becoming a JD Weatherspoons). Good venue for a concert too (my daughter loved Regina).
St Mark’s church, Little Common which we found on our way out of the town. We dashed in out of the rain and a warden opened the church, leaving us alone for a peaceful time admiring the stained glass and the frescoes.
Where we could have gone next:
Hastings – Famous for the battle, it has more tourist attractions than Bexhill including ruins of a castle, an abbey, an aquarium, and a shingle beach called The Slade which has the largest fleet of beach-launched fishing boats in Europe.
Where we did go next:
After loading up with bags of fresh cherries from a market stall, we set off for Bodium Castle. More about this to follow very soon.
I don’t know the South East of England very well. Which other faded gems should I visit?