Boy, did I make my family laugh last week, did I ever keep them amused for hours. I was the subject of ridicule for at least 36 hours. Why? It was a simple honest enough mistake. It was whilst we were driving on a trip our, we'd been holidaying near Rye. I just happened to mention that I had always though Hastings was 'up North' and that the famous battle of 1066, you know the one that virtually changed the face of England had also happened up there. My daughter had, by some ill chance been studying the Normans at school last year and she thought it was hysterical. Alan just thought it one of those daft-ass blonde moments I've been having lately. So being only 12 miles from Rye, we travelled to the seaside town of Hastings, ( I didn't even know it was on the coast!), which turned out to be a lovely place. But we weren't there to sit on the beach, we wanted to go to Hastings Castle. When we could find it, which took a while. There are no clear directions to it from the main road into Hastings, hence we ended up on the other side of town where the only thing to do was pop into a small museum and pick up some tourist info. So off we set back to the centre of town, to cut a long story short we ended up parking in a store car park and finally seeing it perched on a cliff when we got out. Thanks to the small map in the leaflet we headed off in the general direction. And what a great way to lose weight! Up a nice steep hill, but still no directions. At the top of the hill we had to go into a shop to male sure we were heading in the right direction. Hurrah at last we were there! Cant say I was too impressed at first, a bit of a dirt path with some shields on posts, flanked by a few gardens full of junk. I suppose expecting a grandiose entrance to a castle that's been ruined for centuries was a bit much to ask! We trotted off to the entrance which turned out to be a rather homely little hut straddling t
he path. If you're a souvenir gatherer don't expect a nice gift shop selling models of the castle! The entrance 'hut' has a few models of Norman soldiers, some books with information about the Castle and the Normans and some colouring pictures which seemed quite reasonable. And to our rather thirsty horror, not a drinks machine in sight!! Its a very reasonable price considering its all used in the upkeep of the castle. Prices are: Adult £3.20, Child £2.10, Senior citizen £2.60, Family £9.50 and under 5's are free. So you're through the hut and up some old steps. I'm telling you this places is not at all suitable for wheelchairs. Up the steps are you're there. And I mean there. If you've been to the Tower of London or some Welsh castles you may be expecting some spectacular sight, well you will see a spectacular sight. It just happens to be a fantastic view of the sea and the town, as what's left (and it isn't a lot) is completely in ruins. You have the East end of the cloister left, which Brandon was happily running around until we noticed the grass bumps he was jumping up ad down on were in fact graves! Obviously the bones were long gone but a sense of propriety soon stopped him. There was a steep bank of steps leading to a bench where you could sit and look at the stunning views and sit against the tallest remaining wall. A couple of steps along and you come to one of the most complete of the structures, a walk along wall and two ruined towers. These gave a wonderful view along the coast including the East Cliff railway which travels almost vertically up the cliff. Fine view for spotting rampaging Saxons!! In front of each of these structures is a large boarding showing the building as it would have been and with lots of info about them in English as well as German, French and Spanish. Wonderfully informative. Then cam the spooky bit of the buildings, the dungeons
are the most intact 'Cept they aint very scary or very big, walk down 5 steps in each passageway and you're there! What is upsetting is that people have felt free to scribble all over the wall and carve obscene messages in them. Gotta say that it was quite horrifying to think of people shut into these little tiny spaces. We of course wanted to see the show! Which was described as taking part in an 'authentic medieval siege tent'. Obviously my history from school completely failed me cos I don't remember siege tents being made of wood and have paintings of horses on them!! What it was an audio-visual story of the Castle and its history up to the present day. And I do have to say that it was quite fascinating, they recreate the castle for you, and yes, we did find out that the passage that the rest of the family decided to brave and take a wander down was, in fact, a toilet! I learned more about Medieval history that day then I did at school! It was definitely the highlight of the trip, it was also explained to us that the castle was much. Much bigger than the tiny ruins that's left as the majority of it crashed into the sea and unfortunately the cliff and eventually the castle will erode and disappear completely. I would say don't go in there if you are claustrophobic or scared of the dark!! You do get shut in, and the place is absolutely pitch black with no light then what comes off the screen. And with the battle scenes screaming away on the video small children may find it quite scary!! Value for money? Yes, I think so, there wasn't much there, children may get bored very easily and you may be a little disappointed but its definitely worth the money just to see such a place of historical value and its beautiful view but also to know that you are helping to preserve it. If you're ever in the area, just pop along and remember to take the camera! The Castle is on, appropriately enough Castle Hill
Road in Hastings. To save yourself a rather long arduous walk, I suggest you stay n the sea front and walk along to the West Cliff railway, which is an almost vertical ride up the cliff and stops just by the entrance, wonderful views apparently!! Tel (01424) 781111 Opening times: Daily October to 26th March, 11am, last admission 3.30pm closed 24th-26th December; 27th March to end September 10am to 5pm (last admission during school summer holidays 5.30pm).
In desperate need of a getaway,my partner and I booked a week away at the Haven resort in Hastings.I am unable to provide a reason why we chose that particular location,other than it looked good in the brochure and we had never been before! There are plenty of Haven holiday parks situated all around Britain,with accomodation ranging between economy caravans and home from home chalets.Being heavily pregnant at the time we opted for a two bedroomed chalet option at an off-peak cost of £160 for a Monday to Friday break. I say off-peak,as any sane person wouldn't have ventured near the site in mid April,as the country was recovering from major flooding and it was still raining!The campsite was wet to say the least! Although we had taken great care not to go during any type of school holiday the resort was still fairly busy,and the evening entertainment was very popular(mostly I suspect because there did'nt seem to be an awful lot to do in the rain at night in Hastings!?).I found it hard to imagine how a full campsite of holidaymakers would have fitted into the venue allocated for the childrens 'Rory the tiger'club or the adults evening drinking session and guest caberets. The indoor swimming pool was only open between specific daytime hours,a big dissapointment to younger children (and their parents!),and the outdoor pool was closed whilst we were there,but was very small. On-site there was a convenience store,a small gift shop,and a small arcade centre.Other than the afore-mentioned pools,there was an indoor venue for entertainment and the kids club,(which was badly advertised and not very well attended therfor until later on in the week),with four kiosk options for takaway food.In addition was a mini bowling lane and small bar/restaurant and a launderette. The accomodation was clean,with a lovely fire,and everything we might need for our stay,with a television radio and microwave.The carravans wer
e also spacious,and we did not see a hint of condensation! Hastings itself seemed to be a quiet,coastal town,clean,historic and scenic-we spent three days exploring,but also ventured to Eastbourne(even quieter-but lovely!)and Brighton-(lots more to do and we'd go back there!)as Hastings is quite small really.The tourist centre provided us with all the maps and local sites and was a helpful first point of call. In conclusion I felt that Haven holiday Park needed to seriously invest in it's Hastings(and possibly other)resorts.We were very disappointed with the facilities,which were very basic,such as the swimming pool changing areas,and you would need a car to visit this particular park,which I feel is unfair,especially as the brochure indicates the exact opposite. Personally,I will not be returning.If in need of a holiday park I would choose Butlins or Centre Parc-lots more to do and lots better cared for.If in need of accomodation whilst visiting a town or city then perhaps consider this option-but take a car.