I walk to the bus stop over flat land, reclaimed from the sea, where once I would have been swimming. Langney, several miles East of Eastbourne, means long island, very different from its American namesake. The bus provides a view I love of the marshland where it meets the end of the South Downs, a ridge of rounded upland, reminding me of a horse’s saddleback, but Kipling of whales’ backs. Beachy Head, England’s highest sea cliff edges the Downs not far before they end at Eastbourne. Today the downs are a dark profile against cloud and not as cheery as sometimes, but always interesting.
The bus draws towards town along Seaside Road, a long, busy thoroughfare running parallel to the sea. We pass parades of shops of individual retailers – furniture, electrical and double-glazing, then past many churches and nearer town, fish and chip restaurants, giving the flavour of a seaside town. Then through a small cosmopolitan area offering Indian, Chinese, Turkish and Polish fare. This east side of the pier, called the East End is traditionally the less salubrious side of town. Finally, we pass the refurbished Royal Hippodrome Theatre, with its ornate interior, I have yet to see.
My journey ends at the railway station, a grand Victorian red and yellow brick building that welcomes those to the seaside who are not as fortunate as me to live there.