A holiday on the beach

Sea, beaches, sun, bikinis. I distinctly remember this of Hastings and St. Leonards-on-sea which intertwine together. As well, I remember much more of the place which I lived in for around five exciting years that added much nourishment to my being.

I was growing up. My brain was expanding in memory, there was no end to it. It was a bombastic period, going from the family household I was living in, to the lonely street, down London Road, catch a bus, the rail station, further down, turn left on the beach and then to Hastings city center.

In the summer it was heavenly, in the winter it was gloriously cold with the wind pumping through you, hitting at your face, nostrils and between your trousers.

Although this was around 30 years ago, it remains indelibly printed on my memory. The walking, the bus rides, the food, it is like as if it was yesterday, remembering even the bushes, pavements, fish and chips shops, the news agents and much more.

Although I was a little student, Hastings/St Leonards was a touristic resort. Thousands and thousands of tourists would visit the place every year just to enjoy the surroundings, the blue beaches, its pier and much more.

The family I was living with not only took in lodgers like myself, but holiday-makers, not only from other parts of Britain, but also from Europe, especially countries like Italy, Germany and France. The languages in our household tottered and clacked in tongues that were as foreign to me as I was foreign to them.

Some of them were students, but unlike me they came especially from the Spring onwards, till the summer, on short vacations. And I think they enjoyed the relaxing hot, humid atmosphere.

Hastings has a wonderful rapport. Its beaches, full in July, August, September, where then, as I am sure still are, full of languid bodies stretched on the golden sands.

I knew that because I used to spend most of the summer holidays there, free from school. Walking through London Road and then down the beachfront or the promenade gave me a feeling of exhilaration among the birds and seagulls. The whiff of the sea gave me a sense of nostalgia.

It was being young, there was plenty of go, unlike today, where the walking has gone somewhat rusty. Then our bodies possessed plenty of power and stamina, to move around all day, from corner to corner and one alley to the next.

Hastings is a town of friendship, without realizing it, I met many people there, not just English but from different nationalities, introducing you to a world of cultures, and these cultures kept changing because of the new tourists, its new blood, being rejuvenated constantly.

The family I was living with was friendly, gave me plenty of food. The land lady, God bless her, would offer a variety of food like beans on toast, macaroni cheese, and egg and tomato with plenty of bread and butter and jam.

And then for big dinners, lunch time, she and her husband, who used to call me funny face, used to serve roast beef and stuffing, potatoes, steak-and-kidney pies, endless variety of vegetables some of them grown out back in the garden.

And then there was the delicious deserts like jelly and ice cream and custard over apple crumble and rice pudding. My landlady was indeed generous.

I still remember the area and the road I lived in. I don't think I'll ever forget it despite my forgetfulness. I remember the newsagents, and those who worked in them.

I remember buying different newspapers and magazines like Musical Express and Melody Maker. I remember taking them off the rack while keeping my eyes on the girlie magazines, you know the bare-chested women.

It was a fun period, I was lucky I thought. I loved the chocolate Mars bars, the curly wurly and the crunches, munching them down with different soft drinks and eating crisps. I stuffed myself, at that age you do.

I thought that was the life. From where I lived you could go to Hastings from a different route, move further up to the shopping-entrenched Bohemia Road and catch a bus from there that took you straight to the town center. Or alternatively you could pleasantly walk the road.

If you prefer greener atmosphere then at the back of Bohemia Road, there is Alexander Park, opened in the 1880s and is now a big nature reserve.

Very pleasant, I used to walk there in the summer and even winter months, and it stretches all the way down to the city center, or the downtown whose shops and amenities are typical of other English towns.

These are some of the things I remember about St. Leonard-on-sea and Hastings. A final point, I remembered it had two train stations that directly moved slightly upwards to London. Hastings is near to Eastbourne and Brighton, two other exciting places to the west.

Indeed long after I left, I heard they set up a nudist beach in Brighton though I never visited the place nor cared to. I dare say the people I lived with have now long passed away.

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