Monday, 21 May 2018

Hidden Gems of Bexhill






One of the things I really like about Bexhill is the way we have managed to retain so many small independent shops. It's not been an easy time for the retail industry, and not all our smaller local vendors have survived, but compared with many seaside towns, we've done pretty well. So today, I have selected four small businesses to mention. There are, of course, many, many more businesses, who are worthy of a mention, but I had to begin somewhere.
I have chosen these four, because they are slightly hidden away. You have to seek them out....but I think you will find the search worthwhile. 
So let's start on the seafront, on the promenade below the De La Warr Pavilion. It's a bit quiet down there at present, but once the Colonnade reopens, and the fine weather returns, I have no doubt it will be seething with both residents and visitors.

The Bag Ladies
Nestled in a unit to the West of the Colonnade is a small business run by the 'Bag Ladies'. Come rain or shine, you'll normally find one of them sat behind the counter with a crochet hook or a sewing machine creating some of the very special hats and bags which are displayed within the extensive stock.


 
People who follow my poetry will be aware that I am particularly fond of hats, but could anyone resist the combination of a unique handmade bag with a choice of hat? You just have to visit this treasure trove to discover all it has to offer.

R and R Watches
If you can drag yourself away from the seafront, our next stop is at the back of the Arcade in Western Road. The entrance doesn't do the Arcade justice, but bear with me and step inside.


Keep walking and you will arrive at the most amazing shop full of watches, clocks, in fact anything to do with time. Prices start very low, and this is definitely the place to source a replacement battery for your watch or clock. Time-keeping is very important to me when I do my poetry performances, and I bought a watch there last year, with a very clear face, so I can glance at it without the audience noticing. It has never let me down.

The outside of the shop, demands that you enter.


And I can't be the only one who feels this, because, whenever I pass, the little shop always seems busy. Whether you want to choose from the  massive variety of watch straps or clocks, you will not be disappointed.



With such an abundance of time on offer, who could resist?


Moving on we are heading south to Parkhurst Road. It is parallel to Western Road and houses a mixture of residential and commercial buildings. Towards the western end you'll find the entrance to Unit 4 +2.


The impressive walkway leads to a spacious light-filled area full of original, good looking and well designed items. You know those days when search endlessly for something special, as a gift for a friend? This is the place to go. You will undoubtedly find what you are looking for, and it won't break the bank.
I'm no expert photographer, but fortunately these photos speak for themselves.





Did you find what you were looking for??


Most shopping trips include a rest for coffee or a bite to eat, so my final stop is at Avra, a little cafe on the west side of Town Hall Square. This is well within walking distance of the town centre shops.  If you stand on the central green and look towards Bexhill Town Hall, 'Avra' is on your left.
It's a cafe and takeaway, clean, friendly and open long hours.


It's the sort of eaterie where you can dash in for a quick cuppa or linger over a large mug of chocolate. Proprietor, Annette, will make you feel welcome with her warm smile and attentive service.



The very reasonably priced menu includes the usual cafe choices of breakfasts, salads, lunches and pizzas, so why take the walk to Avra, when there are similar cafes, closer to the town centre? What will you be offered that is different? The answer is a little taste of rural Greece. Alongside the traditional cafe menu, are a few home-made Greek dishes with one of two daily specials. 



I'm still working my way through the Greek specialities, but I did try the Fasolada, which is a substantial and tasty bean soup, extremely filling if you are looking for some extra carbs to sustain you for further shopping. I have also tried the Kotopoulo and pita. This is a plate of charcoal grilled marinated chicken  with home made pita bread, tomato onion and tzatziki. It's not high end cuisine, but if you want an authentic Greek dish for under £6, then I would highly recommend it.



Thank you for taking this journey with me around Bexhill. If you happen to pass any of the places I've mentioned, why not pop in and say hello? If you would like to recommend a further 'hidden gem', then please send me a message, and I will try and include it in a later blog.   

Claire Baldry is a writer, blogger and performance poet who lives in Bexhill. She has published 4 poetry booklets and one novel. 

More details about Claire's novel





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