The mythical fabric shop and a vintage day at the seaside

At the end of October we headed along the coast to Hastings for a day trip. The idea was mine as I wanted to nip into a fantastic vintage fabric shop I visited last year, but with a day off school and work three of us ended up going for an old-fashioned family day-out by the seaside. Although not quite the fabric shop plus a tea then back home experience I was initially thinking of, I was very much looking forward to it as I love a retro seaside resort. Fish and chips on the beach, a 99 ice cream, 2p machines, buildings with bit of Victorian/Edwardian faded glamour and if you can chuck in a pier as well I am most happy.

To fit in with the idea of a day out we left the car at home and got the train to St Leonards. The main road from the station to the seafront is full of quirky little independent shops, welcoming looking pubs (and perhaps the odd not so welcoming looking pub) and some wonderful tiled paths. Just before the coast road we turned right then got to the end of the street. Where was the fabric shop that was along this road? I know I had the right road and thought I may have been distracted by looking at some of the windows, such as these lovely lace curtains below, so I checked a photo I took of the sign from last year, retraced my steps and it was gone. Before giving up I checked their website and sure enough it should have been there but was empty. At this moment, standing in a strange street feeling the effects of the cold I was tempted to say that was it, I am going home, and leave them to it. I wanted my old fabrics, french lace and antique buttons. With my shoulders a few inches lower we kept walking, and headed down to the seafront. Most disappointing though, I cannot tell you what a goldmine the little shop was.

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As soon as we arrived on the the seafront we were met by sweeping rain and a fierce breeze. Although woefully underdressed for the weather it was good for blasting away the fabric disappointment. The pier looked like a natural place to head to and as you will see from the photos the weather was still pretty grim. Despite the weather there were still quite a few people on the pier going for a stroll.  I love what they have done with it. It felt like a public space, rather than trying to rinse every penny out of every square foot (thinking of rumours about Hove seafront and looking at you Brighton and Hove Council).

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After this we decided to head to the Old Town, a small area full of little independent shops and cafes. We headed straight for a cafe to dry off and take refreshment and had a fab lunch, Sussex Smokie which added to the feeling of a treat trip to the seaside. We then went for a stroll around the shops and I saw some more of the most amazing tiled floors, although did not find another fabric shop :(

We once again headed for the seafront and the sun not only came out but put his big hat on. Spotting the Victorian cliff railway from a distance it looked like a good idea. I loved the vintage vibe from the outside but was not so sure when we were shuddering (it felt) up the side of a massive cliff. I later found out that it is the steepest railway in the UK - eek. According to my family my reaction was hilarious, made yet funnier when I called my mum later in the day who said that when I was seven I went on a school or Brownie trip and was given a special award for being brave and going up the railway. Hmmm. Anyway, the view from the top was stunning, it had that feeling that you could take great big gulps of fresh air. The journey back down was not as bad, but I think a bar at the top would be helpful in future.

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We then headed over to the seafront and the Fishing Museum and Shipwreck Museum. Both well worth a visit and I am now wanting a ship in a bottle and slightly obsessed by how many shipwrecks seem to be sitting in the sea around the south coast. We went back via the Old Town but were a little disappointed that everything closes quite early so walked up into the main area of town. I suppose it was off-season, but it still seemed to be a bit sleepy. Still, managed to get some more geometric photos to add to my sketchbook - lots of quilts are planned at the moment.

The train back was easy so overall it was a relaxing day (just let’s not revisit the fabric issue). I usually head the other way towards Chichester on days out. I can see why Londoners are heading this direction. It has the feeling Brighton used to have. Not that I am completely out of love with my hometown yet, but it did definitely have something about it.