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The Rock-itt : February 2010
Our European jaunt continues and from the damp, and a little dreary North West of England where we ventured in last month's Rock-itt, we move down south and thankfully to a bit of English sunshine. I've mentioned before that my wife is very active in researching her family tree so it was a pleasant and welcome diversion to be invited down to Eastbourne on the south coast by her cousin for lunch. Eastbourne is the butt of continual jokes from the British in that it is the place people go to retire. I see why this happens because it is a very clean, tidy and safe town. From our base in St.Albans to the north of London we took an easterly route around the M25 which is the motorway circling the capital. The M25 turns south and over the hugely impressive Dartford Crossing above the River Thames, driving until we hit the A22 then it's just 71 km down a rather pretty route to Eastbourne. It's less than an hour from London by rail and if you book a week ahead, a ticket should cost you $20. It's not a place for partying, the beach, as with much of the south of England is shingle but there are some great pubs, fine hotels and good walks for the fresh air fiend. Check out www.visiteastbourne.com/ One walk we took was to have a look at Beachy Head and its famous lighthouse which has been operational since 1902. Whilst checking facts for this article I came across this picture of how the workmen building this lighthouse got to work a hundred years ago! After receiving some family history revelations from our lunchtime hosts we headed east and a short drive to Brighton to see a couple of my old Music Business buddies. It's only about 27 km and upon arriving we found ourselves witnesses to the re- opening of the bandstand on the sea front. This was an exciting event for my mates in the town; the bandstand was built in 1884 and up until the 1960's had been a focus for family entertainment. It then began a steady decline and had become an eyesore until 2500 Brighton residents signed a petition to have it restored and we were privileged to have been there at its re-opening. Brighton is a whole different ball game to Eastbourne. It's often referred to as 'London by the Sea' it's very hip with loads of great bars, clubs and restaurants. About an hour by train from London, many people commute to the Capital including both my mates who live here, Phil Barton and Jonny Turner. Phil owns Sister Ray which is a well known Indy record store in London www.sisterray.co.uk/London. Jonny is a Music Promo Guru working hard on the hits of tomorrow. A joy to see them and we would have liked longer in Brighton. It would be good if the council could tackle the ghostly spectacle of the old Brighton West Pier next, it was closed to the public in 1975 then mysteriously burnt down in 2003. Retracing our steps we went back to overnight just outside Eastbourne, staying in one of the Premier Inns chain of hotels, clean and comfortable motels for about $60 a night, much less if you book in advance. More family tree research to be done the day after, with a favourite aunt in Hastings by the Sea. Hastings is about 43 km east of Brighton and unfortunately in style and liveability terms it's all downhill. It does, however, have fantastic Eastbourne, clean tidy and quite pretty. Beachy Head Lighthouse built because the original one up on the cliff was invisible in fog! No, after you!! Brighton Bandstand, we even saw the Mayor!