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Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK

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Eastbourne is a picturesque coastal town, which benefits from many leisure facilities. These include several bowling lawns, numerous park benches and an almost infinite number of funeral parlours. There are several nicely-situated graveyards and a state-of-the-art and a well-equipped crematorium, which visitors would be well advised to take advantage of during their stay.

Perhaps one of the most famous things about the area around Eastbourne is the celebrated suicide spot, Beachy Head. For a small fee in summer, one can take a boat trip out to the lighthouse, from which vantage point can be observed (on a clear day) the remains of several cars, scattered liberally along this beautiful stretch of dirty white rock sticking up out of the sea. If you are fortunate, you may be able to witness the drama of an actual suicide in progress, which adds an element of local colour to the trip.

Eastbourne has several beaches, conveniently located next to the sea. It has won many awards for the state of these beaches, which just serves to emphasise the sense of disappointment and infuriation a tourist might feel when confronted with the stark reality of inch upon inch of gravel, with the odd sparse patch of greyish sand, which small children huddle round despondently, poking dead pieces of seaweed with sticks.

Another highlight of this area is the Carpet Gardens, a beautiful floral display right next to the pier, where one could quite easily while away two minutes or so. Linger for a moment and watch as the seagulls soar above you, making that infernal racket that we all so enjoy. Gaze in wonder at the pretty little flowers and crisp packets. Look disapprovingly on at the local youth who, not content with all the natural beauty of the area, has poured soap powder into the fountain and is now dancing in it, wearing only his South Park boxer shorts.

But life in Eastbourne isn't all holiday fun and sunshine. There's also a large(ish) shopping centre filled to the brim with wonderful little local shops with bags of character such as Bon Marché1, Marks & Spencers, and McDonald's. There's plenty to do on a rainy day (which is lucky, because 'Sunshine capital of the South' isn't saying much, is it?!).

Another great thing about Eastbourne is the people. If you are lucky, you may spot the odd occasional local person struggling with several shopping bags and trying to go about their daily business, whilst surrounded by hordes of delightful elderly people and foreign language students with fluorescent yellow backpacks.

How to Get to Eastbourne

Eastbourne is easily accessible by both train from London (eventually) and cart track (the A22). However, it is sufficiently isolated from the rest of the world, by both sea, the South Downs and Hastings, to ensure that escape can be a difficult and costly affair. The Eastbourne Tourist Board is keen to point out the excellent landing facilities available to our more extra-terrestrial visitors, and also the good links with local airports. Eastbourne is a good base for exploring this beautiful area of England, with its rolling hills, pleasant coastline and well-appointed charity shops.

Where to Eat

One area in which Eastbourne genuinely falls short is in the number of nice eateries. Admittedly there are several purveyors of fine fish and chips along the seafront; and as previously mentioned, there is also the traditional seaside town branch of McDonald's. This is frequented mainly by visitors to the town, especially in the summer months. For a more genuinely authentic 'local' taste of the town, the high-class eatery that is 'Littlewood's Restaurant' would be more suitable. Littlewood's Restaurant is to be found within the Arndale centre itself, affiliated to the 'Littlewood's store' that is located therein. It is often sadly overlooked for inclusion in the 'Good Restaurant Guide'. Don't be put off, because if you are looking for good food at a fairly reasonable price, this is where to go.

Where to Stay

Since Eastbourne is a tourist town, there are many hotels and guesthouses. The more long-term visitor may be advised to consider the various hospitals and nursing homes. For the visitor on a budget, the under side of Eastbourne pier is a frequent favourite, although the railway station can often make for an entertaining and exciting night's sleep.

What more can be said as a recommendation? Every year hundreds of old people quite literally come to Eastbourne to die. As an added bonus, Eastbourne is apparently the only place in the world outside America with cryogenic freezing facilities. These are only for temporary storage until you can be transferred to the US, but it sounds like fun, nonetheless.

1The name says it all - it means 'bargain'.

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