Overheard on the train from London, “Mum, stay off the vodkas this time – remember when we went to Birmingham and booked that nice Italian restaurant and you were too pissed to go. Let’s just get a kebab and go home Nana” The whole family laughed.
Rye DIY. Ancient, narrow winding alleyways. Chinese man photographs his wife in front of the picturesque timber framed Mermaid Pub in various contrived poses.
Distant camber sands full of humanity like a Lowry vista. Find myself smiling when back on the beach – cliffs of Hastings at the horizon.
It’s hot and I drink water voraciously sitting on a cliff top throne carved from a tree stump shaded under an oak tree. Sounds of the waves and squealing children. Coast zig zags to a line of wind turbines and in the far distance Dungeness power station.
Past a row of manicured yew hedges in Fairlight I ask a chestnut tanned man in his garden where the footpath to Hastings is – “Are you fit then?” he says after giving me directions – “I hear there’s some up and down”, I reply. “A LOT of up and down” he says waving his pruning saw at me for emphasis.
Microlight buzzes overhead.
On the cliff path to Hastings a tired looking group of young asian men ask me for water, I take off my pack but they misunderstood me and said “no, not beer” they walk off before I have time to explain.
Indeed much steep up and down in mysterious woodland, then gorse, smooth grass, dust and sea above the cliffs at Hastings.
I rush to catch the train to meet friends Jan and Ingrid who’d offered to put me up for the night – Hastings harbour and the net houses look spectacular from the high cliffs but I keep my fingers crossed that the light will be good in the morning and pass noisy arcades, drunks and shirtless teenagers on BMX’s. Soaked in sweat I make the train with moments to spare.
Hearing about the walk their daughters ask me where I sleep (tent), if I have spare clothes (no), how I cook (solid fuel) and how I go to the loo (woodland).