Today required quite a bit of grit to get going. We left the Dover bunker at about 8.45, having had a farewell breakfast in café Illy, and arrived in Eastbourne at 11.15. It was horribly cold and there was snow on the motorway as we drove along. I am amazed at how far I have walked in 4 days – next time, I shall change hotels on the third day, rather than the fourth – an hour and a half was a long drive before starting out. Our hotel in Eastbourne is better in some ways than Gulag Towers – there is wifi in the bedroom for starters and it is right on the sea front in a huge Victorian terrace. Unfortunately, one person needs to stand outside whilst the other moves around as the room is minute.
Having parked the car some miles away from the hotel, owing to the very restrictive parking regime, I jumped on the train at Easbourne, (carelessly leaving my gloves behind), while Bridget decided to have a day of rest. I think in future, I will arrange a day of rest after a week, as I was quite tired today.
The train arrived at Hastings within the half hour, and, allowing for a detour to buy replacement gloves (although, fortunately, my old ones had been rescued and tucked into the ticket vending machine at Eastbourne when Bridget kindly went to look for them) I started walking at just on 1pm. Hastings is not hugely exciting, and its adjacent suburb St Leonard’s is positively depressing – lots of youngish men hanging about with the whiff of illegal substances hovering over them. I walked along the front to Bexhill-on-Sea, which is slightly more sedate and attractive with the landmark Pavilion building in classic 1930’s style. Poirot was nowhere to be seen, however there was a Mr Whippy van, with a driver who looked as though he hadn’t had a customer since last August Bank Holiday, so I decided (since it was such a balmy day) to have an ice-cream. My stomach felt extremely peculiar for at least an hour afterward – presumably the effort to adjust my body temperature to compensate for a chocolate Feast on a day when the thermometer was stuck below 3 degrees centigrade.
All of the shore in this part of the country appears to be shingle – I am not sure why it is so popular, as very difficult to walk on. Some 3 miles out of Bexhill I reached Normans’ Bay, on the outskirts of Pevensey, where William the Conqueror landed some 950 years ago. I hope he had warmer weather.
The path then disappeared between rows of 1920s built bungalows and summer houses before drifting unenthusiastically into Eastbourne. I returned to the hotel to find Bridget diligently working, sitting in the glazed verandah of the hotel. We went out for an excellent meal (see review.) I have now completed more than 210 miles!