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Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Monday, 19 September 2016

7 things to inspire you to take a Hastings day trip - beach launching NZ style

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. We do this in a bid to be less polluting and tackle climate change while at the same time keeping a global outlook. Here's a look at the joys of Hastings which includes being outside, plenty of fish and the chance to watch boats beach launching -just like you might in New Zealand. Words from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).

Cliffs, beach, oyster pots... family bonding at Hastings.
It's just 90 mins from Charing Cross to Hastings by train, and then a 15 minute downhill walk to Hastings Old Town where if the sky is blue it's very easy to pick up the holiday vibe.  Hastings is on all the trend setters' radar at the moment. In the Old Town there are organic shops, local provenance shops, loads of antique and bric-a-brac shops as well as delicious places to eat. We found Eat@TheStade - part of a new low black shed complex near the new Jerwood Foundation gallery. We had three sandwiches - all came with salad and crisps - and a coffee, which cost £12.15. But we could have spent a lot less with a bit of planning. Here's how.

I'm still not sure what fish this is.
1) TAKE A PICNIC and enjoy the stoney beach. This is the British seaside so it's quite windy. There's often a strong on-shore wind so bring a fleece, or a windbreak... or just dig into the stones. At some point you may be tempted to eat fish and chips so add plenty of fruit and veg to your picnic. And when you've eaten go exploring. We were surprised by what we found...


The Hastings fishing fleet are working boats. You can even buy freshly landed fish from beach sheds.
2) HASTINGS IS ALL ABOUT FISHING - not just being arty. Watch the famous RX boats (R for Rye, X for Sussex) being launched, or landing, directly on to the beach. There's a real skill to landing a heavy boat on to a beach - plus you need serious kit (eg, a caterpillar tractor) to then drag the boat up the beach above the high tide mark.


Stunning Hastings scene - and it's very easy to photo as there's a pub opposite.
3) TAKE PHOTOS of the the huts built to dry fishing nets. The black huts look like three-storey garden sheds but they add a huge amount of atmosphere to Hastings. Find them just where the busy main road that runs along the seafront past the pier is obliged to swing inland because of the cliffs.

4) GO TO THE MUSEUM OF FISHING which is in the Old Town and free to enter. It's full of photos of fishing characters and dominated by a large fishing boat which you can climb on to.  My party enjoyed seeing the vast wingspan of a stuffed albatross and a film about a ship in trouble created by the RNLI.

5) THE MUSEUM OF SHIPWRECKS is next door and it's another winner, also free, and probably less crowded. The sea hides so many secrets - even when divers bring up a wreck there is plenty of mystery about which ship sank, when and where it was heading.


Ye Olde Pumphouse - irresisitable
6) POTTER AROUND THE OLD TOWN - the chic and interesting places are obvious.

The Old Town Fryer - a prize winning chippy.
7) YOU'RE BY THE SEA. Hastings had a bad reputation as a rundown seaside town where London boroughs would "dump" their homeless during the 1980s. The years seem to have soothed that injury. And like any seaside place there is plenty going on - loads of end-of-the-pier amusement arcades, fish and chip shops and little stores selling beach rubbish. There's also an aquarium, a mini train that runs along the front and a restored pier.

OVER TO YOU: Have you been to Hastings - or to anywhere else in the world where boats get beach launched? If so do share some thoughts...

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