England Travelogue – Day 3 Eastbourne, The Main Event

People had come from far and wide to pay their respects to John Tanner, who was about to celebrate his 80th birthday. For the Canadian contingent (Myself, Dorothy, Christa (in exile in France) and Mik (Canadian by association), the day got off to a leisurely start. Although we were quite ready, willing and able to help with the preparations, there was not really a great deal to do, since the party was being held at a local pub, the Arlington Arms,  just around the corner on Seaside Road. Those of you who are following the progress of our trip can be forgiven for thinking that we are pubaholics, since this would be our 3rd pub visit within the first 48 hours of  landing on English soil. In our defence, I will simply say, when in England, do as the Englishmen do!

Since the function itself was only due to start at around 1:30PM, we took the morning to reacquaint ourselves with one of Eastbourne’s most notable attractions: the seafront. When I lived in Eastbourne as a teenager, I remember the stated population being around 60,000.  Now, in 2010, it is has almost doubled to near 110,000. No wonder there is nowhere to park a car! The seafront, however, is one of the few parts of the town that has not really changed very much. Perhaps one notable  addition is that of cyclists and roller-bladers which are a hazard that we did not have to contend with in the sixties. We have included a few shots of the seafront, so that you can get the general idea of the atmosphere!

Eastbourne is one of the few South Coast seaside towns that still has an operational and relatively vibrant pier. In my youth, it was one of  THE places in town to hang out, especially in its amusement arcades, which have lost much of their former glory now that youngsters get their electronic jollies at home from their, WIIs, Playstations and X-Boxes. Usually, Dorothy, who is a closet gambler, likes to make the pilgrimage and lose some loose change down glitzy gaping holes! Alas, this trip it was not to be. Perhaps the pier’s loss would be the pub’s gain! 😉

After our morning constitutional, we all got dressed up in our finery and made our way to the Arlington Arms. Don’t be fooled by the photo, which makes the place look much smaller than it really is. One of the ‘tricks’ the British have had to learn is how to get the maximum amount of  utility from even the smallest spaces.  Coming from Canada where space is a commodity that we take for granted, I must admit to a feeling of claustrophobia after I have been back in the U.K. for a while!

The ‘do’ was to be a plowman’s lunch which is fairly typical English pub fare. When I was a kid, a plowman’s lunch consisted of  half a French Baton loaf (French Stick) slathered with butter and filled with thick chunks of cheddar cheese and adorned with Branston pickle. The idea was, I believe, that a plowman needed a lunch that could be eaten on the run without knives, forks and plates etc. If you click to enlarge the picture here, you will note that this particular ‘plowman’s’ was a little more involved.

Once everyone arrived and the party got going in earnest, it struck me that if you take away the minute details, this get-together could have been happening almost anywhere in the world and the main elements would have been similar: A gathering of family and friends to celebrate a person’s age milestone accompanied by food and drink (usually alcohol) and dotted with music, camera flashes and, above all, laughter! My own family is no different from most in that there are many skeletons in the closet and there are always a few minor feuds hanging in the air but on an occasion such as this it is gratifying to see that petty squabbles can be held in abeyance so that everyone can have a good time.

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