After spending a few months travelling abroad, I realised I had explored more of there than I had my own metaphorical back garden; what’s the point of going to places so far away if I knew nothing about where Im from? Fast forward to last Summer and to help make up for that I was spending the day with my pals, exploring my hometown, TOURIST STYLE. Who says you need to cross half the world just to have an explore??
So. Eastbourne. What’s it all about? Whilst travelling I’d started off describing it as being ‘near Brighton,’ then inevitably had to give up and nod in agreement that it was ‘just outside of London.’ It is definitely not just outside of London, but in hostels you get asked where you’re from at least five times daily, and after a while I began describing it that way out of sheer exasperation.
The main thing this little Victorian seaside town is known for is being home to a whole lot of old folk, and it’s (semi)affectionately been nicknamed ‘God’s Waiting Room. Which is pleasant. There’s also a sign on the seafront that says ‘Eastbourne’s World-Famous Carpet Gardens,’ but I strongly believe that’s a lie as nobody I’ve ever met has ever commented on these apparently famous carpet-gardens of ours. It holds a tennis championship every year, it’s in Sussex, and Ezzie Izzard went to school here. And for now that’s really all you need to know.
We set aside a day when we were all free and up for the challenge of becoming tourists in the town we grew up in, wrote a bucket-list of tourist style activities, and off we went. Onwards to discover new and exciting things!! In Eastbourne!!
TAKE A RIDE ON THE LOCAL TOUR BUS
It is bloody hilarious, I’m telling you. Especially if you sit at the top and it’s a windy day and your hair is therefore COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL. Thank god we’ve moved on from the days of lashings of lipgloss, what a disaster that would have been.
In Eastbourne the bus takes you along the seafront and up to Beachy Head (part of the South Downs, to the West of the town), to look around at the rolling hills, the lighthouse and the hundreds of sheep that live in the area. Then it just…comes back down again.
We’d all been there before, many many times, but there’s something about seeing a place from the perspective of a visitor that makes it seem so much more awesome than usual. Eastbourne does attract a lot of tourists (mainly coach loads of grandparents), but on that particular day there weren’t many around so we basically got the whole top deck to ourselves.
BUY A SOUVENIR
Just a little something to remind you of your amazing day out on your own home turf. We got a wooden seagull from a gift shop (who we nicknamed Steven Segal), to accompany us throughout the day, and my pal bought me a stick of rock in the classic seaside style. What a beaut.
DO THE CHEESIEST TOURIST ACTIVITY POSSIBLE
This will differ from town to town, obviously. But in Eastbourne (in my humble opinion), the most cliché activity you can do is to ride the Dotto Train. This little train chugs along from one end of the seafront to the other at a rate of about 5mph, and when you sit on it the most important thing that you have to do is wave at the pedestrians. Mildly embarrassing but it’s just one of those things, you know?
EAT SOME BEAUT LOCAL FOOD
We could have done slightly better on this front, but we wanted to do something that was slightly different than the norm. This was not your average, fish and chips style day, know what I’m saying.
So we went for afternoon tea at The Cavendish Hotel, because what more Eastbournly thing is there to do than sit in one of the town’s many hotels overlooking the sea armed with tea, scones and cucumber sandwiches? The whole of the seafront is lined with hotels- my first job was working as a chambermaid in one, and later in life I got work as a hotel singer (both extremely glamorous, obviously 😳)- and there is nothing that the old folk of Eastbourne like to do more than hang out in a hotel lounge with a brew.
All I’m saying is, more younger people need to start doing this too, as it’s bloody lovely. Especially after a jam-packed day of being a fake tourist.
The main rule of this one is: no chains! No Starbucks, Prezzo, Costa or whatever place you might normally go to which is located in every other town in the country.
CHECK OUT SOME CULTURAL HOTSPOTS
We actually didn’t do this on our tourist day, but we were aiming to so I’m including it anyway. Sometimes I ignore the places right on my doorstep because I’m too busy concentrating on what’s further afield, so it’s always good to check somewhere different out that you don’t often see. Museums, galleries, that sort of thing…broaden your mind, learn new things! Have good times!!
TAKE ALL THE PHOTOGRAPHS
Especially of local landmarks, or yourself in front of them. Like the good old Eastbourne Bandstand, where a concert happened to be taking place just as we were walking past. (Me and my pal once got kicked off of Bandstand territory for handing out flyers- something about ‘seafront bylaws’, ugh), so it’s also nice to revisit places without bearing a grudge.
Taking pictures is the ultimate tourist thing to do, and when you start seeing things from a tourist’s perspective you notice things that you normally wouldn’t.
I’m well aware that going on a full grand day out around your hometown may seem like the lamest thing in the world, but actually- IT WAS AWESOME. Eastbourne is full on beaut, and although I pretty much consistently feel the pangs of wanderlust, exploring my own turf with a beaut group of friends was one of the most fun days out I’d had in ages. Good one, the Bourne.
It always helps to embrace the place you’re from.