Review: Coach trip to Hastings

July 31, 2017 by Ray Morgan

It's a nice segue, given that last week's blog was about not driving, that this week I'm talking... coach journeys! Saviour of the non-driving yet UK trip-loving individual!

I've often seen Cooks Coaches bouncing down the London Road, and Jo booked us some £18.50 tickets to Hastings this weekend, and I'm full of the love for Cooks journeys.

The day began not-too-early; a 9am pick up is very reasonable on a Sunday. Time for a cooked breakfast before heading out. Another coach turned up for Margate: this caused a ruffle of confusion on which coach to board - two seaside trips in one day? Who'd-a thunk it? We got brilliant seats, just behind the chirpy driver, Ken, who deftly navigated the M25 with his trusty microphone giving us updates. We were the youngest by about forty years. I had packed boiled sweets and an earphone splitter. I overheard an elderly woman say "You just cannot find a decent tomato these days." We were in our element.

We arrived in an extremely windy but jolly sunny Hastings, Ken telling us he'd drop us "At the rear of Argos" - it was pure Victoria Wood and I loved it. "Be back by 5!" he chirruped, and we duly said "Bye, Ken!" like we'd known him for years.

We found a Tourist Information Centre, always our jam in a new town, picked up a map and started exploring. We instantly fell in love with Hastings. It was like a less self-aware Brighton. Pier, check. Stony beach, check. Gorgeous views, check. Groovy vintage shops, check.

It had an independent spirit that really reminded me of a 2000-2006-era Leigh-on-Sea, when there was The Grand, Junk Club, Leigh Film Society, the Rendezvous cafe, little shops that sold vintage threads or would make clothes for you; Gran Moda, Gum, Naked Tongue, Old Skirt. Holler if you remember that time; it sounds specific but in those years there was a really different buzz around the place. That's how Hastings felt to me.

We wandered around the Old Town, which felt like if Diagon Alley was relocated to coastal France. Tiny streets curve round with shops boasting gorgeous canopies, selling everything from vintage chairs and cigars to gifts and, my favourite, dried flowers. I grew up in the 80s with parents who at the time had an almost Pagan level of dried flower love. We walked into a shop heaving with bunches of dried lavender, so full of scent that the woman behind the till said it was rendering her sleepy. I bought conkers to deter spiders from our shed (did you know this was a thing? A friend alerted me to it and it shall hopefully change my spider-fearing life), and a huge bunch of dried, soft yellow corn which will look amazing against our new navy blue hallway. I could have bought way more; the shop had endless bouquets of dried flowers and beautiful homewares, but it was the day before payday...thankfully.

We visited a shop called AG Hendy specialising in 1930s-style homewares that my ridiculous, hipster generation is now buying (at premium prices) despite our grandparents throwing it out when it went out of fashion. Enamel bakeware for miles! Wooden scrubbing brushes! Wood's Ware spearmint-green ceramic cups as seen in every church hall in the country! I know: if I scoured charity shops, I'd possibly find this stuff, but I told you, my generation is ridiculous. We obviously bought stuff from there, you know what I'm like; I'm particularly excited about a lemon gravy boat that was on sale, which matches our new dining chairs perfectly.

We enjoyed a Bloody Mary outside a Grade 2 listed pub 'Ye Olde Pumphouse' watching the world go by (what I actually mean is we overheard two young parents on the next table sniping at each other about who does more for their children, awks) followed by a delicious round of tapas at SEED, where they must have known we were coming because Sesame Street played on a giant projector behind us while they played 90s RnB bangers such as Destiny's Child and TLC., and the food was spot-on and very reasonable.

After all that fun, including a stroll on the windiest beach I've ever been on (seagulls were flying backwards, not even kidding), the clock rolled round to almost 5pm, and we knew Ken would be ready to pick us up from Argos. We were home by 7pm, tired but in that satisfied holiday way, dropped 5 minutes from our house, carrying bags full of our new Hastings treasures. We can't wait for our next Cooks Coaches adventure.

Day excursions from Cooks Coaches start at £16 and can be booked via


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