Jack in the Green

By Gemma Pocock Photographs Iain Pocock

What a lovely day it was on the 3 May. I went, with my husband, daughter and step children, to Hastings for the day. On arrival it was really busy, I just thought it was because of the gorgeous weather but later discovered it was all down to “Jack in the Green”.

We passed the Crazy Golf where there was great activity, continuing our walk along the path by the sea we discovered a Miniature Railway. I lived in Bexhill for over 5 years and never knew of its existence. It is lovely to see the old train working with all the children on the back waving as they passed by.

The Dolphin
The Dolphin

Opposite the old Fishing Huts the Dolphin Inn was decorated with foliage and colourful banners with people sunning themselves outside, enjoying their drinks. The fresh fish shop came next. I love fish, what an inviting smell. Moving on we reached our first destination the “Blue Reef Aquarium”.

Jack in George Street
Jack in George Street

What an exciting place! All three children enjoyed viewing the sea life and there are little plastic steps provided to enable children to see into the taller tanks. There was an illuminating talk about crabs and and other sea creatures, the children were actually able to handle some of them.

We all enjoyed the tunnel, down some steps, along a corridor and above your head were all sorts of fish, crabs, sharks etc. Amazing!

Seeing all those fish got the taste buds going. Fisherman’s Sandwiches at Rock-a-Nore cook a tasty looking sandwich while you wait, where they were doing a roaring trade. The children had set their hearts on a different fish dish, so it was off to the chip shop to enjoy a more traditional Hastings feast. We managed to find a table (which is very unusual) at “The Blue Dolphin”. I used to go there with my Grandparents when visiting Hastings for the day from Rye. It has not changed a bit except for maybe the waitress. It was delicious, every plate was cleared.

The Old Town was heaving, we went to see what all the fuss was about. In George Street there were Morris Dancers in all their brightly coloured clothing and jingling bells The shops in the old Town had got right into the spirit, decorated with branches, ferns and tinsel to celebrate the festival of Jack in the Green. Outside the Flower Shop, which was festooned in elaborate decoration, school children were Morris Dancing. It is great to see that younger people are getting involved in traditional pastimes.

Morris Dancing   Which one is Maurice
Morris Dancing Which one is Maurice

Our children had been very good, so the next stop was The Arcade. They went on the traditional 2p. machines (my husband and I did too, big kids at heart really). After all the money had gone we just managed to scrape together enough for an ice cream. Enjoying ice cream together on such a beautiful day at a picnic table on the sea front was sublime. What a great place Hastings is and there was still one more surprise to come.

The children noticed her first. A Giant Woman at least 20 feet tall approached from the east. Accompanied by a group of walkers shaking buckets, raising money for a charity. They looked hot and tired, I hope they raised lots of cash.

That's One Big Lady
That’s One Big Lady

We had a wonderful day of family fun in the Old Town, it is still a very traditional area. I hope it stays that way as there are not many places with real atmosphere about. Development and ‘modernisation’ are spoiling so much of our heritage. The people who live and trade in the streets of Hastings Old Town should be encouraged in their endeavours to preserve their way of life. Hastings Borough Council should help them in any way they can.

All that could be heard on our way home was the the gentle sound of snoring children.

“Hastings Town” June 2008

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