We went to the south coast for the weekend. Bexhill was our main destination, not least for the magnificent De La Warr pavillion, which I’d wanted to see for a long time, but also because – as a place – it features heavily in and around Keane’s new album, ‘Strangeland’. Bexhill was a remarkably pleasant seaside resort; gentile, welcoming, easy going, unspectacular but rather comforting to be in for a chap of my advancing years. It was odd to feel quite familiar with a place I’d never been to before.
Before heading back to London on the Sunday, we decided to travel east along the Kent coast, heading in the general direction of Dungerness, but passing through Hastings and stopping for lunch in Rye.
I’ve been to Rye before, and know of it’s reputation for being quaint, cobbled and wealthy. It has a charming setting, surrounded by water, with a couple of old gatehouses and a picturesque church at the heart. Vanessa Feltz was in the centre of town, minding her own business, reading the Sunday papers, and people generally milled about in the mid-summer sunshine.
We stopped at Fletcher’s House for lunch (Fletcher was apparently a contemporary of Shakespeare, and lived in the town) and took a table with the kids in the rear garden. It was quiet, but we were soon joined by a couple of older ladies, perhaps from out of town, but certainly well-to-do and relatively local. The spoke at each other, rather than having conversation, and much of it was head-crunchingly banal. However, there were a couple of gems overheard.
“We had to put one of the alpaca down this week”. Seemingly, one of the herd had approached the younger of the two women, and collapsed, which was heartbreaking to overhear. I only hope they saved the wool. Later, the same woman told an amazing story of a peacock that had infiltrated her own flock of peacocks and become quite vicious. She’d had to beat it off with a rake. I’m not sure this is entirely legal, but both stories certainly made me happy that I cannot afford alpaca, peacocks, or a house in Rye, and live in the relative sanity of north London. The home counties sound far too complicated.