Eastbourne – Holiday Town Extraordinaire

Submitted by English Bridge Union on

Eastbourne beach and pier

Ros Wolfarth wrote several Blogs for the Eastbourne Summer Meeting in 2022 and updated the information in 2023. She hopes that this 2024 compilation from all her Blogs on Eastbourne will come in useful to anyone not familiar with the town and its surroundings.

Join us this year from 8th - 11th August in Eastbourne for the Summer Meeting!

Ros writes:

Overriding everything, it is vital to remember you are visiting a busy English Resort in PEAK SEASON.

Please respect this fact and book your hotels in plenty of time. Also consider booking some of the popular restaurants during your stay, particularly at weekends.

BRIDGE. If you want to play bridge before or after your visit, the newly rehoused Eastbourne Bridge Club will be at Lion Works, Sidley Road, BN22 7HB, from late March 2024. Sessions daily except Thursday and Sunday but look up the website for up-to-date information. As this is being written, additional sessions are being discussed! Bridge for all levels and a thriving teaching club. You are all welcome. Eastbourne Bridge Club, Eastbourne, East Sussex (bridgewebs.com) Note that the club will update its website once established at its new home.

Alternatively Sovereign Harbour Bridge Club, BN23 5QF, Eastbourne - Sovereign Harbour Bridge Club, Eastbourne, East Sussex, England (bridgewebs.com) operates on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. You will need to check about space availability before heading over. This is a very friendly club and one of the most unusual views in the country. Don’t let the view put you off your bidding or your play!!!

THEATRES. The Congress and Devonshire Park Theatres are both in the Devonshire Quarter, immediately either side of the Summer Meeting venue, the Winter Garden. Both have a full programme of events and concerts. Homepage | Eastbourne Theatres. You will note our Summer Meeting Venue also hosts some entertainment, other than Bridge, so maybe the EBU could sell tickets for kibitzers?

ART. Also adjacent to the Congress is the Towner Art Gallery which also houses a small cinema screening some interesting and avant garde films. The Towner was proud to host the 2023 Turner Prize, whilst the Winter Garden hosted the Gala Evening to announce the winner. There is a permanent Ravilious Exhibition, really well worth trying to make the time to see, and the incoming exhibition (after all the Turner exhibits have gone) will be on Melting Ice / Rising Tides by Emma Stibbon. Emma’s years of work observing the polar ice sheets and glaciers will demonstrate just how we are all being affected by the shrinking ice and resultant rising sea levels: particularly pertinent to Eastbourne as large areas of land within the Borough are effectively coastal swamps. A stark contrast to our magnificent White Cliffs.

HISTORY. Sussex is not the most populous county, but we have a huge wealth of interesting places to visit. From pre-historic circles on the tops of some of the Downs to a Roman Fort – one is just to the East of Eastbourne at Pevensey – this one encircles a Norman Castle. There are also remains in other parts of Sussex, particularly around Chichester, the county town of West Sussex – no surprise with the suffix of Chester! Lewes, the equivalent county town in East Sussex is a beautiful mediaeval town, about a 25 minute train ride from Eastbourne. It boasts the second oldest Norman Castle in the land. Visiting Lewes is like being in a time warp. Highly recommended for a worthwhile day out but, from experience last year, check out opening times if you want to visit Anne of Cleves House! We will visit in 2024! One of the 2 spouses who survived Henry VIII, Anne chose Lewes to live out her life in peace. An excellent choice. Rye is another gem.

Northiam, Battle, Michelham Priory, Hurstmonceux, all good for days out, these to name but a few close by. Or just spend a quiet hour slap bang in the middle of Eastbourne in Motcombe Gardens, Old Town, followed by a pie and pint at the Lamb Inn (AD 1180). Sussex has a wealth of picture postcard villages, some of them in spectacular countryside. Far too many to mention…you might do well to invest in a Guidebook!

WILDLIFE. A recently screened series on lifeboat rescues featured Eastbourne Seafront, more or less straight opposite the Winter Gardens, when a deer was found running along the beach! An escapee from the Downs which go all the way down to the sea at their eastern end at Beachy Head. This is not an everyday occurrence, but we have deer on the Downs, and they are prolific on the High Weald and in Ashdown Forest. Lots of badgers and foxes, both urban and country ones, hedgehogs, bats. In the air we see sparrow hawks & buzzards, as well as a huge variety of other birdlife. The Cuckmere, a short drive away, has a colony of swans. Seals visit Sovereign Harbour, and Dolphins play in our seas. There are plenty of fishing boats active at night and a fresh fish shop very close to the new Bridge Club, sells their landed catch from there. Sorry, I realise this paragraph is about LIFE! Eastbourne maybe a town, but surrounded by countryside and sea, so nature is never far away. The Council has done its bit by rewilding some areas – but in a controlled fashion and have planted plots of meadow flowers right in the middle of the town. They have one in the square between the Winter Garden and the Sea. Just found a photo of it on my phone from last year’s flowers. Eye-catchingly pretty.

ACTIVITIES. Whether you like a gentle stroll or more aerobically challenging exercise, there is so much to do.

Plenty of places to walk. There’s an Upper Promenade – starts opposite the Grand Hotel – which goes West toward Beachy Head. This is like a tree-lined tunnel with views through to the sea. Magical. The Lower Promenade also goes as far as Beachy Head and runs parallel to Upper, with lots of sloped pathways between the two. It extends for miles East beyond the Pier, past the new Bridge Club. There are beaches all the way along. Good walking up and over the Downs…. Beachy Head is the start of the South Downs Way. Cuckmere Haven is very special; you can get there by a no. 12 Bus and alight at Exceat. On that section of road, Friston Forest has some beautiful walks (plus the occasional bus stop if the walking proves too much!). Or simply get on the hop-on-hop-off tourist bus that starts from the pier.

There are cycle trails, there are a plethora of Water Sports, in Eastbourne (of course) and out on the Cuckmere (no 12 bus again). Several good golf courses – Royal Eastbourne GC, Willingdon GC, Eastbourne Downs GC - it is a hilly area so those used to flat courses might need some puff! Having said that, there is a 9-hole course, Lottridge GC, which is flat enough to have several water hazards.

Being a tourist town, it won’t surprise you to know that there are plenty of activities for youngsters. Perhaps the best way to look up all that is on offer is by the town’s main on-line site  www.visiteastbourne.com

RESTAURANTS. Some of you have been coming to Eastbourne for years and know where you like to dine, some of you need a few tips. For the latter, see the following list with brief descriptions:-

  • BISTROT PIERRE. Tel 01323 886484. French style, on sea front, close to venue, brilliant views
  • POMODORO & MOZZARELLA Tel 01323 733800 + LOCANDA DEL DUCA Tel 01323 737177. Owned by same family, and next to one another. The former is the family version and has the full pizza /pasta range as well as a good general menu. The latter is more traditional good Italian cooking. Over many years of serving Bridge Players, they have retained their consistently high standards. Easy walking distance to venue.
  • THE SHIP INN, MEADS. Tel 01323 733815. Excellent food, lovely pub atmosphere, garden
  • THE PILOT INN, MEADS. Tel  01323 723440. Excellent food, very attractive, beer garden, B&B accommodation. N.B., Meads is a quaint part of Eastbourne – a village in itself - nestling below Beachy Head and has an attractive High Street with a feel good factor about it. About a 5 minute drive from the venue.
  • BEACH DECK. Tel 01323 720320. Close to bridge club, really good fish and chips and more, right on the beach, eat out on the deck or inside.
  • PLOUGH AND HARROW, LITTLINGTON. 01323 870632. Out of town (15 mins drive) in lovely village on banks of Cuckmere, eclectic menu, good beer and wines.
  • GIANNI’S. Tel 01323 724435. The best pizzas in town, including Pinsa, made with a lighter dough, quite delicious, other Italian fare also served. 15 min walk from venue
  • HARRY RAMSDENS. Tel 01323 417454. Famous Northern Fish & Chips, sea front, close to pier
  • THE BELGIAN CAFÉ. Tel 01323 729967. Moules and Frites the speciality, but they cater for the whole family, well worth looking at the menu just to see what is out there for lovers of Mussels! Opposite Harry Ramsdens.
  • HOLIDAY INN FISH RESTAURANT. Tel 01323 732481. Close to venue
  • PELICAN FISH RESTAURANT. Tel 01323 734036. Serve grilled fish as well as fried, close to venue.
  • SABAIDEE THAI RESTAURANT. Tel 01323 728583. Close to venue
  • EIGHT BELLS, JEVINGTON. Tel 01323 484442. Excellent cuisine, beautiful country setting. 10 mins drive.
  • KERALA FLAVOURS. Tel 01323 733337. Best take-away Indian in town. If you are self-catering and want to avoid the crowds, you won’t go wrong with this food.
  • DEM SHISH. Tel 01323 724656. Turkish restaurant. Good standard of cooking, varied menu. 10 mins walk.
  • TAJ. Tel 01323 657758. Consistently good Indian food. It has been very popular with locals. 10 mins walk.

There are many more, so please, let us know of your favourites. And this is said by someone who normally cooks daily, but sometimes wishes she didn’t!

Ros Wolfarth

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