Hastings, 28 June 2009
After a full English breakfast, we drove down to downtown Hastings to attend Mass at St. Mary Star of the Sea. We were a couple of minutes late - parking proved to be a bit of a challenge.
St. Mary is a lovely little church, its sanctuary done in ornate gothic style, yet not overdone. In a way it seemed architecturally like a cathedral in miniature, with ornate wooden fixtures and stonework. The floor was not tile, though, but of a worn varnished wood, which gave it a warmer feel.
Outside, other buildings jam up against St. Marys, and against each other. This seems to be common in Europe, especially in cities and downtown areas. A small price to pay, though, for being able to leave much of the countryside undeveloped. And even in the cities, most houses have lovely gardens in their tiny front yards. Many gardens had roses in full bloom, and lavender was also very common.
After Mass, we wandered the coastline area, which was liberally populated with pubs, gift shops, and even casinos. In a way it looked a lot like other port/resort towns such as Atlantic City, except that you could also find fishing industry workers not far from the boardwalk-type area.
We had lunch at a place called the Hastings Arms. Besides my meal of Leicester sausages, I tried a Kentish ale - Shepherd Neame's Master Brew. It reminded me a bit of a cross between Smithwicks and Killians. I also had a Magner's cider, but one made solely from pear. It was lighter, sweeter, and more delicate than their apple cider, and was quite tasty.
In the afternoon we drove to a small vineyard called Carr-Taylor. We got a bit turned about trying to get there, especially on narrow country lanes, but it was certainly worth it. We had a wine tasting with the owner and saw some of the vines. Right now the grapes are only tiny flower buds. One of the wines is a "1066 Country" vintage, which the owner explained was made using some of his grapes along with grapes brought in by other local people who grow grapes but aren't large enough for their own winemaking equipment. I thought that was quite neat. They also had several nice fruit wines, including a ginger wine and a mead. Well worth the drive if you find yourself in East Sussex.
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