Hastings: Attlee goes into battle
It is the first weekend of spring and I am off to the seaside – Hastings, in fact, which is famous for the Battle of Hastings, a long time ago, in 1066. So we are safe now.
The most exciting thing that happened to me in Hastings was that there was an ice cream cone abandoned on the pavement, and I snaffled that and then I snaffled a whole big portion of abandoned chips as well. Chips and a cone – I was really having the full British seaside experience. Grrrr-huzzah!
Jane has booked me, the photographer and her into a hotel that she found on-line, called The White Rock Hotel. It said on the Internet it was dog-friendly and within five minutes of us arriving another two hounds had checked in and I’d had had a bark off with a Border Terrier. Most amaze-bones of all, a dog called Rocky – the hotel dog, apparently – works behind reception.
Everybody in The White Rock Hotel was very friendly and the lady who showed us to our room, which was big and clean, said she preferred canine to human hotel guests, because dogs don’t get drunk, rowdy and have arguments. We are polite hotel guests.
The White Rock Hotel is right opposite the seafront. If you had a seaview room you’d be able to see Hastings Pier, which was so badly damaged during a fire in 2010 that nobody is allowed on it – not even an intrepid dog like me. Anyway we didn’t have a sea view room, but Jane didn’t care because she said The White Rock Hotel was very reasonably priced and the bottles of water in the mini bar were FREE, instead of costing about fifty pounds like they do in most hotels.
Hastings beach is pebbles, rather than sand, and sadly for me there wasn’t any seaweed on it, even though I searched and searched. Seaweed would have been the perfect pudding to my cone and chips. It is a very long beach but I couldn’t run all the way down it because some of the things that divide it width ways – groins, Jane says they are called – are very huge and I could not make it over them. (Nobody could – not even a wolf – so this is not a reflection on my athletic abilities.)
A lot of the shops in Hastings are dog-friendly – more than in London. Just next to the hotel, there is a shop called Collared, which had a pretend pink dog in the window. An Afghan Hound. Thank Dog for it that it’s pretend because if it was real it would get some funny looks down the park.
The old bit of Hastings, about quarter of an hour from the beach, is called The Old Town and, as we know, people love Olde Thinges and Townes. There is a shop there selling old bicycles which have been restored, and a place called The Furniture Hospital, which is like the vets, but for chairs.
There are also lots of antique shops – Olde Thinges again – and a little independent cinema, which I don’t suppose dogs are allowed in, but Jane liked, because it was cute. Unlike the Peckham Plex, which is cheap but not cute.
The other shopping bit of Hastings we went to, about a ten minute walk from the hotel, was Norman Road in St Leonards-on-Sea. It is all olde thinges again but there is one shop that sells some new things, called SHOP. And I was allowed into this SHOP – more than that, when Jane and me were standing outside the owner of the SHOP came out and said: ‘Dogs are welcome here!’ She was practically rolling out the red carpet for Phileas Dogg! Even though part of the SHOP was a café and people in cafes are normally like: ‘Get that scruffy mutt away from my cream scones and profiteroles.’ I wish more humans were like the lady from SHOP!
Ye Olde Pumpe House is in the Olde Towne and has lots of historic beames on the outside. Inside there are two bars – a little one downstairs and a bigger one upstairs – and there is an outside courtyard and I was allowed EVERYWHERE! The food was decent pub grub – big portions so lots of spare chips for me. There is a pub dog but I didn’t meet him – likely he’d heard I was coming and thought he’d keep a low profile for the night. Grrrrr-huzzah!
A man sitting outside The Anchor Inn told Jane that it is the oldest pub in Hastings but now she’s checked the website it says it’s not the oldest. It’s the second oldest. Humans lie! But it was a good pub anyway, housed in a Georgian building (the photographer said and I am reporting) and the beer was good (the photographer said and again, I am reporting). From my point of view, which is really the most important, everybody was very friendly. When we sat outside, I could bark at all the dogs passing up and down the street to make them all terrified. I am a terror-ier, after all!
On Norman Road in St Leonards there was a café called LOVE and Jane LOVED it because it was a mishmash of comfy sofas and little bistro tables and paintings and oddities that customers could buy – for example, a big red velvet throne. Jane also LOVED the LOVE café because the bubble and squeak she had for breakfast was in a perfect little patty, like a little round bun. The SAUSAGE was very good as well – so good that, even though it was mine, the photographer ended up eating about half of it. Not happy. (The photographer has asked me to mention, so I will, despite the SAUSAGE incident, that there were some lovely photographs for sale – artistic landscape pictures of Hastings – by someone called Bob Mazzer.
Phileas Fact Box: Hastings
- The White Rock Hotel, 1-10 White Rock, Hastings, TN34 1JU. Tel: 01424 422240
- Website: www.thewhiterockhotel.com
- Scores on the Paws: Attlee – 5/5; Jane – 4/5; The Photographer – 4/5
- Dogs are allowed on Hastings beach from the pier, westwards to groyne 32 and from groyne 42 (next to the slope at Marina) westwards.
- Collared, 37e Robertson Street, America Ground, Hastings, TN34 1HT. Tel: 01424 719918. Website: www.collareddog.co.uk
- Bells Bicycles, 4 George Street, Hastings, TN34 3EG. Tel: 01424 716541. Website: www.bellsbicycles.co.uk
- Electric Palace Cinema, 39a High Street, Hastings, TN34 3ER. Tel: 01424 720393. Website: www.electricpalacecinema.com
- SHOP is at 32 – 34 Norman Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings, TN38 OEJ. Tel: 078255 02159
- The Olde Pumpe House, 64 George Street, Hastings, TN34 3EE. Tel: 01424 422016. Website: http://yeoldepumphouse.com
- The Anchor Inn, 13 George Street, Hastings, TN34 3EG. Tel: 01424 201472. Website: www.anchorhastings.co.uk
- Love Cafe, 40 Norman Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings, TN38 OEG. Special Phileas Dogg Paw Print of Approval for this caff – it is one of the best places I’ve been.
- There is a website about Norman Road that is very fine. It is written by Norman and it is at www.thenormanroad.co.uk
An afternoon in Lewes
So Jane and I are spending a sunny afternoon strolling around the ancient town of Lewes in the South Downs and we are off to a good start – a man in the first pub we visit is feeding me delicious blocks of cheddar cheese. And it only costs 55 pence for Jane’s lime and soda – not £1.50 like it does in some London boozers. This pub is called The Brewers Arms and is very friendly – especially the man with the cheese.
After The Brewers Arms we walk down a very steep cobbled street with a bookshop at the top of it – the bookshop is built of wood and has books outside on shelves, that any passing ruffian could half-inch. But Lewes does not seem the sort of place where passing ruffians would half-inch books. Lewes seems very genteel.
We go to Anne of Cleves house, although apparently Anne of Cleves never lived in it – it was part of her divorce settlement from Henry 8th. Never mind not living in it, I’m not even allowed to have a nose around inside it. This is a shame because I like the smells in old houses and recreating in my head the lives of the people who were there, through my nose and the things it tells me.
I am a bit sad until we reach Priory Park, a five minute walk from Anne of Cleves dogs not welcome house. Priory Park is amaze-bones! It used to be a monastery, where monks lived, and was founded in 1078. I cannot even think how far back that would be – my great-great-great-great: no, I give up. 1078 is very far away in time anyway. Now the monastery is ruins set in a lovely green park and it’s lead off for dogs. We can inspect the ruins with our noses and roll in the ancient grass and all the people in the park are pleased to see us. Priory Park is my favourite place in Lewes, bar none. Even more favourite than the pub with the cheese squares!
After an hour in Priory Park, we investigate another dog-friendly Lewes pub – this pub is called The King’s Head and it is laidback with a barman who is sort of friendly and sort of grumpy at the same time and brings me a bowl of water. It has a beer garden too, where people can sit and drink beer in a garden.
Then we go back up the very steep Keere Street to Lewes Castle, which is called Norman. There are lots of steps up to the castle and dogs are allowed to walk up all these steps with their owners only to be turned away from the castle itself. This is a bit unfair – all that effort for no reward. Luckily Jane has some Reward dog treats to remedy the effort/no reward equation.
There ends Phileas Dogg’s guide to Lewes. A brief encounter but enough to judge that Priory Park is my second favourite park in the world and that the locals in The Brewers Arms are generous with their cheddar cheese blocks.
(Disclaimer: Jane is watching Take Me Out as I scribe this with my quill and ink and the noise of the television is rather distracting me so if my copy does not flow to its usual high standard, blame her.)
Phileas Fact Box: Lewes
- The Brewers Arms, 91 High Street, Lewes, BN7 1XN. Tel: 01273 475524. Website: www.brewersarmslewes.co.uk
- Anne of Cleves House, 52 Southover High Street, Lewes, BN7 1JA
- Priory Park – www.lewespriory.org.uk
- The King’s Head, 9 Southover High Street, Lewes, BN7 1HS. tel: 01273 474628. Website: www.thekingsheadlewes.co.uk