After work I caught an odd two carriage train to Waterloo then joined the rush hour squeeze to Waterloo East. After a wait of about half an hour, I joined a commuter train for the long journey south to Hastings.
For anyone who has wondered what happens to the slam door trains that SWT no longer considers decent enough for travelling in, wonder no more! They are on the Charing Cross – Hastings run. Ghastly train. Apart from the general state, I had to stand up for about an hour, in a drafty corner outside the smelly loo. I eventually managed to get a seat for the final run to Hastings station where the train terminates.
Hastings is quite big and the usual seaside town on a Friday night except for a large contingency of skateboarders and gangs of 10 years olds. I checked into the Chatsworth. Comfortable room, about the width of the beds length, but enough room for just me. The room has a lovely view of the sea…well it was all very black but you could hear it between cars.
The hotel appears to run by Indians with a delight for the Empire years – the Tea Planter Restaurant boasts that you are ‘…surrounded by memorabilia of the British Empire’.
After dumping my gear and ringing Mirinda I went in search of food.
Hastings has lots of pedestrianized roads, which is very nice, except for the delinquent element this attracts. And, boy, is it attracted to Hastings! The skateboarders reign supreme, threatening life and limb (not theirs I stress) as they swish and leap over any obstacle stupid enough to stop walking. It’s odd that something so skilful can annoy so many people. Mind you, I’d be annoyed if a stunt motorcyclist started revving around the footpath in front of me as well. Then there’s the gangs (gang-lets?) of 10 year olds. Do these kids have parents? Why don’t they care about them?
I think the older generations (anyone over 20) should organise a mass rally on Friday/Saturday nights to take back the streets. We should then bundle these kids off to a big barn or somewhere equally isolated then carry on our business of getting drunk without feeling like babysitters.
I debated whether to go to Wetherspoons (oddly called The John Logie Baird) but the bouncers on the door and the heaving mass within discouraged me so I opted for some Italian fare at Tempo. Had a delicious but naughty spaghetti carbonara and a bottle of Messina. This Italian beer is from Sicily and has a logo reminiscent of the Isle of Man three legged thingy except this has a fish head with plaits and big ears. The brewery only started in 1923 so they obviously stole it; being Sicilian after all. Just joking capo, de capo!!!!
Stupidly I forgot to bring anything to read so I spent the meal taking notes for my journal. The staff must have thought I was some sort of restaurant inspector because the service and the food were both excellent. Of course, Tempo could actually just have excellent food and service! Anyway, I recommend it for friendly staff and tasty food.
While I ate, three young girls sat at the tables outside wearing big ugly puffy jackets, very short skirts and what appeared to be blue tights until I realised it was just their legs turning colour in the cold. They smoked, made phone calls, looked miserable and eventually moved on. Not sure why they think this is a form of entertainment. I wiped the yummy cream from my mouth and eventually followed suit.
There’s a large shopping precinct in central Hastings, all pedestrianized, lined with shops and a mall. As I walked by I heard a loud rendition of the big band sound coming from within its depths. The sight before me was seriously weird. Gathered around a very well lit statue of a cricketer were about eight kids, like moths running in and out of the light and, like Glaswegians, trying to put a cigarette in the cricketer’s mouth. At the other end of the precinct was a large, open air, temporary stage from which the music issued. Around (but not on) the stage were about 4 couples swinging eagerly to the music. All very eerie and vaguely spectral. I left quickly, fearing this was an armistice haunting.
I stopped off in an all night supermarket for supplies for my walk in the morning then turned down Carlisle Parade to my hotel. Outside an oddly lingerie decorated Debenhams, was a man, in shorts and sweat top, skipping. It was definitely time to turn in before any more weirdness presented itself.
Safely ensconced in my room I rang Mirinda and then I had a shower. In all my travels I don’t believe I’ve found a worse shower. It was one of those bizarre single knob controls which is cold to the right and hot to the left. Generally setting it to the middle gives a good, high pressure hot drenching. If you want a bit more heat, you just turn it a bit left and the temperature increases while the pressure drops slightly. Simple enough concept even if a bit utilitarian in design.
I turned the tap on and a gush of freezing cold water erupted from the small rose – so small it was really a bud. Risking hypothermia, I plunged my arm beneath the torrent and twisted towards the hot side. The temperature didn’t change until I was completely to the left. The water left the nozzle just a little above a dribble but it started to warm up a bit. And this was it. Turning the tap anywhere back to the right instantly reduced the temperature. Halfway through shampooing my hair the inevitable happened. The water turned icy and started sputtering like a Gattling gun. I was about to resort to a bath – this hot tap worked fine – when the shower returned to the hot drizzle. I quickly finished up and ran out of, what appeared to be, the haunted shower of Room 117.
Sleep came quickly as my eyes were screwed tight against any visitation of watery sprites, anxious for more mischief.