Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The 90s Eastbourne Nightclub Hall of Fame

Being back in Eastbourne has stirred a lot of long lost memories, especially when I keep bumping into old friends and reminiscing about our misspent youths here. The other morning I was sitting with a friend on the train into work, attempting to recall the names of all the Eastbourne nightclubs we once frequented and wondering what became of them. We realised that only one place out of all those old haunts has remained almost exactly as it was in name and style - and that is the legendary (for all the wrong reasons) TJs. But what about all the other dancing dives in which much of our teenage years were wasted?

Those I can remember, I have added (with commentary - click on a placemark to read) to this Google map :

View Eastbourne's 90s Nightclubs in a larger map

Please tell me if I have missed any classic 90s Eastbourne nightclubs from the list and share your anecdotes (if you can actually remember anything from those addled years).

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Things I Love About Eastbourne #2: The South Downs

True, the South Downs are not exclusive to Eastbourne, stretching as they do all the way from Beachy Head to the River Meon valley in Hampshire. And indeed I have spent many happy Sundays exploring the downland around Brighton, from Castle Hill at Woodingdean out to Ditchling Beacon, Devil's Dyke and all the way along to Cissbury ring. But there is something about the way Eastbourne's downland is visible from most of the town that makes it feel more familiar and friendly - an ever-present protector shielding us from the world beyond. As I child I imagined the sloping green humps of hillside to be sleeping dinosaurs (if you have ever read Dinosaurs and all that Rubbish, you will know where that notion stems from), ready to yawn and stretch into life at any moment. They were a place of magic and wonder and coming back to them brings much delight.

From my new house, I can walk up onto the Downs in less than ten minutes, with the bulk of that walk being through the elegant manor gardens of Gildredge Park. At the other side of the park I come to a lush green golf course - where the very polite golfers refrain from hitting balls while I walk across the footpath that crosses it - and come out at the bottom of Paradise Drive, in whose woods, so the story goes, my brother was conceived. A stomp up the hill brings me out at the Dew Pond, where the ashes of a beloved family pet were once scattered and around which many games of Star Wars were played during childhood dog walks. On a clear day you can see right across to Beachy Head, and out to the jaggedy spur of land that is Hastings on the other side. This picture was taken in 1998, when I brought a gang of London friends down for a visit. I hope they'll come again now that I am back and spoiling for more hill-bound adventures. Others are welcome too, of course.

More lovely pictures of the South Downs can be found on Idleformat's Flickr profile. Watch this space for more from me.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Things I Love About Eastbourne #1: The Marine at Christmas

Now that I'm settling back into Eastbourne life after fifteen years away, I'm actively seeking out all the things I missed about the place during my Brighton and London years. As well as being a bit of a nostalgia kick, it also helps stave off any potential regrets about leaving Brighton, reassuring me that I have made the right decision coming back.

As the festive season is drawing to an end, today felt like the perfect time to head to the Marine pub, whose epic Christmas decorations are legendary. It's a nice enough pub at any time of year and for me holds many memories of happy times with amdram cohorts, but in December the Marine transforms into a sparkling grotto of festive kitsch, a shimmering marvel of a place. Any Brighton people who remember the Regency's glory days may recall its OTT decorations, but that was but a token gesture in comparison to the Marine's gloriously garish shrine to Christmas camp. Behold:


If only Ant had worn a more fittingly festive jumper, the scene would be complete. Maybe next year.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

My Favourite Songs of 2010

More than photos, diary entries or spoken anecdotes, music is the most dependable keeper of memories; a song has the power to conjure a lost moment from the dusty archives of the heart and brain, bringing it into vivid life once more. For the last few years I have made an annual compilation of the music that has punctuated the year, to share with friends and for my own posterity. Looking back at each mix, I can tell a lot about the happenings of any particular year and the sort of mood I was in.

On the first day of 2011, here are my favourite and most poignant songs from last year - each holds a memory or moment and all were released in 2010. There seems to be a prevalence of ethereal female artists, muddled with a generous helping of proggy post-rock and the occasional splash of cheesy electro. I don't know what this says about my mood, but it was certainly a year of ups and downs. As I sit here in my new house (house!) suffering the after effects of too many prosecco and mead cocktails last night, it feels like a fitting soundtrack.

I hope you'll enjoy my playlist and perhaps treat yourself to one or two of the most excellent albums from which these songs come. I heartily welcome your own recommendations of 2010 musical discoveries and favourites, too.

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