We made it to St Leonards

Snow at London Bridge station
Snow at London Bridge station

My alarm went off at 5:30. When I looked outside the road surface looked clear and the front path was glistening wet. No snow, so the trip is on.

At 7:35 Tigger rang National Rail information and was told that, minor delays apart, the Hastings service was running normally.

We left the house at 6:55 and found that in places there was a layer of very wet slush. I noticed, though, that some surfaces showed a dusting of white.

Wilson's Bakery, St Leonards
Wilson’s Bakery, St Leonards

The first bus to arrive was the 214 and we boarded it, changing at Old Street to the 141 which terminates conveniently at London Bridge station. By the time we reached Old Street a few snowflakes were to be seen.

“I hope this doesn’t turn into an overnighter,” said I, meaning that if the snow started in earnest, blocking the line, we might not get home again.

Not only birds live on cliffs...
Not only birds live on cliffs…

We had to buy our train tickets at London Bridge as we had waited until the last minute, being uncertain as to whether we were going or not. At this time of day there are no cheap fares so I had to pay the full price of £27.50. Plus bus was another £2 but it would provide unlimited bus travel throughout East Sussex all day, so it’s a bargain.

While we were waiting for our train, our fears were reinforced because it began to snow in a very determined manner. Would this snow build up and disrupt travel later?

Summery weather on the seafront
Summery weather on the seafront

Although we were going to St Leonards, we bought tickets to Hastings. This is because, for whatever reason, Plus Bus is available on rail tickets to Hastings but not on tickets to St Leonards. As the rail price is the same to both destinations, this makes sense.

As we trundled out of London into the southern suburbs, we could see that the smaller stations were snow covered in contrast to the cleaned London stations. On the other hand, it was no longer snowing. Either the snow had stopped or we had run out of the fall zone. In either case, it was a hopeful sign.

Archetypal Victorian vestige
Archetypal Victorian vestige

Further south still, as the daylight brightened under a grey sky, we ran into green countryside with only an occasional fleck of snow in corners or under trees.

By the time we reached St Leonards the clouds had broken and the sun had begun to shine. The cab driver was surprised to hear that it was snowing in London and I could see why: there was no sign of snow here.

By 9:27, the job was done and the day was ours. In London, we had expected to find bad weather and had intended just to do the job and come home again. In view of the almost balmy conditions in St Leonards, however, we decided to explore as we usually do. We started with coffee and a Danish at the characterful Wilsons bakery and cafe.

Rain at sea
Rain at sea

We made our way along King’s Road towards the seafront. It took us a while, what with looking in shops and taking photos. When we did reach the front, the sun emerged from the clouds and it was almost like a summer’s day. Later, we saw rain out to sea and wondered whether it was coming our way.

As seaside babies, we both enjoy visiting seaside towns. I particularly like towns such as St Leonards part of whose character is a sort of faded grandure dating from an earlier age. There are many Victorian and Edwardian buildings, monuments and other vestiges here, all adding to the atmosphere of the place.

The Clarence
The Clarence

As the recession deepens and people choose more and more to holiday in Britain, perhaps towns like St Leonards will experience a late flowering and again become holiday destinations of choice.

Our walk brought us to Hastings which we visited in its turn, lunching at The Clarence pub.

A tour of the shops produced some booty and as the sky had now greyed over, it seemed a good time to head for home. We walked on up to Hastings station, which we reached a few minutes before the departure of the 15:07 Charing Cross train.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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4 Responses to We made it to St Leonards

  1. I loved Hastings. I grew up inland from there, at a place called Hawkurst, and we regularly went down on a Saturday or a Sunday. There used to be a miniature railway near the fish market. My one regret was that it didn’t have a pier, unlike Brighton, where we also went once or twice a year.

    I’m certain that if I went back, though, nothing would remain that I would remember.

  2. I think you are right about towns like St Leonards becoming more popular as people cannot afford to travel abroad. Hotel owners need to shape up though. No-one can change the UK weather (and it’s not THAT bad) but having stayed at a few UK coastal hotels with children – it is not a pleasant or cheap experience. It is for that reason that I tend to holiday abroad – I can’t afford to stay anywhere comfortable with my children in the UK. I’d rather holiday from home.

    Glad you got through the snow anyway.

  3. Villager says:

    Glad you made it to the seaside.

    If you don’t mind me asking, how do you come by these courier trips ?

  4. SilverTiger says:

    To Sopwith Camel: Hastings of course shows signs of modernization but quite a lot of its past history remains. I think if you went there you would see many familiar sights.

    I lived my early life in Brighton and then went off into the big world. Nowadays we often go to Brighton – a changed Brighton, of course – so I am familiar with the sensation of seeing two worlds superimposed, as it were.

    To Reluctant Blogger: It is many years since I holidayed with children and I don’t know what it would be like these days. With just the two of us, it isn’t that difficult. We search for hotels on the Web and write off, selecting what seems the cheapest/best. Sometimes we are lucky, sometimes less so.

    Villager: It started more or less by chance and you will find an explanation here. What seemed a one-off turned into a regular thing. We have been on many courier runs since. I think most of the write ups are in the category “Travel” with “courier run” as a tag.

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