well i finally made it to hastings – i just went for the day with my friend sarah – to visit an artist friend who we hadnt seen for over 20 years! Alex Leadbeater is a talented artist who makes everyday objects look special – it could be a pair of scissors, an enamelled jug or a kettle – there are paintings, prints and cards to choose from, so whatever your budget you can always find something. we both came away with gifts for all our friends! i used to show alex in my gallery in the 1980’s in Golborne Road – her beautiful drawings of tools were what drew her to me.
alex actually lives in St Leonards, which is about a 20 min walk from the old town of Hastings. so after a lovely lunch we did a tour of hastings, from the lovely indepedent shops to the traditional black fishermans huts where the nets are still hung to dry. there was so much to see, from the vast array of architectural styles, 30’s blocks, tudor houses, georgian cottages – i was but pleasantly surprised! its definitely worth a day trip, if not a weekend stay. its much bigger than whitstable, and is definitely more shopping orientated than food specialist, but there was so much personality and creativity around, that its quite uplifting in this economical gloom to see small shops with so much energy. there are no surf shops as in cornwall, but all the amenities that you need in a working community alongside the wealth of interesting gift, clothes and vintage shops.
i loved the new home store of alistair hendy – food stylist and photographer – all housed in a beautifully restored 18C georgian house – very reminiscent of the spitalfields weaver homes. it was all so perfectly laid out, so that you wandered through the rooms, floor to floor, marvelling the space, the props (all for sale), the rows of bottles and brushes. think labour and wait and bailey’s home, but with its own character – worth visiting hastings just to see the store.