Friday, August 30, 2013

Lost in Hastings

I travelled to Hastings to see some houses yesterday.  We arrived at Hastings station with our shiny plus bus passes in our hands, expecting to be able to use them to get us around Hastings and St Leonards for the viewings.  I had addresses and instructions for each of the houses, and knew how to get to them from the nearest stations.

We took a brief look outside in the bus station, but couldn't find any useful information on the boards by the bus stops.  Unlike virtually any bus system I have ever used, Hastings buses - essentially Stagecoach - don't appear to want you to know where the buses go.  

I looked for information around Hastings station.  There were no leaflets, and no timetables or information, except for a strange chart showing a list of places with bus numbers - a really weird cross reference system.  I was looking for Ore and so dutifully copied down the numbers of the buses: 20, 20A, 22, 22A, 28, 347, 100 etc....

I asked at the information desk in the ticket office of the station if there was any information available for the buses and was told I "might find some at the tourist information office" in the town.

I just couldn't believe that people arriving in Hastings, a tourist town, could be left without *any* information about the buses, and so I searched for information again, thinking there must be some *somewhere*.  Outside Hastings train station is a set of stands, labelled with a letter of the alphabet.  Next to each is what looks like a timetable, but unlike every bus system I have ever used, instead of showing a list of the places visited somewhere on the sign, this had a list of times with a bus number on it, and no information about where the bus might go except for its ultimate destination.

I'm an intelligent, resourceful woman.  I approached a bus driver of a 20 and asked for his advice.  He was perfectly amiable, but told me that his bus was going in the opposite direction (very difficult to know for someone strange to the area) and told me to look out for a 22.  I already had that information from the sign inside the station, and so waited for a 22.  The bus driver denied that his bus was going anywhere near Ore station, and suggested a 21.   The 21 doesn't go near Ore station, and wasn't on the list of buses that do.  We gave up at this point.

I'm amazed that the town hasn't fixed this problem.  The town isn't easy to get around on foot, as we discovered, as it has very steep hills and is spread over a wide area.  I was half an hour late for a viewing because we walked from Ore station (which should be renamed "Not in Ore Station") and found the simple journey I had taken down from Google was in fact a touch uphill route march.

We took taxis from then on.  The very wonderful Sunny taxis took us, giving invaluable information about the area and a very good value and friendly service.  When we go back, we'll use them again.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Which way is up?

I'm waiting for my house sale to get to the exchange of contracts stage, barely daring to look at properties but at the same time afraid that if I don't put every spare hour into it I shall never find anything in my price range.

I'm looking anywhere up to two hours out of London, including Hastings, Diss, Grantham, Northampton, Dorset, Bristol and Bath.  I'm hoovering up any information I can find about all those places.  I've always wanted to live by the sea, and so Hastings and St Leonards is currently the place I favour, although I have read a lot of mixed reviews about the place.

It's weird, I'm having a lot of dreams about being on buses and trains and not knowing where I am going, about houses with one way stairs and rooms that shrink, scared that prices will suddenly leap up and prevent me from buying where I was to be able to buy.

I have three grown children and a girlfriend to take with me (my son's!  not mine, lol!), and the responsibility of finding somewhere for my estranged husband in the same area.  I'm hoping that the change will be a positive one for all of us, and so I fear making a mistake, choosing the wrong place, and having to pick up the pieces if I do.  Then I get excited and realize how lucky, lucky, lucky I am to still be in a position where I can think about buying a house at all.

Not knowing where I will be in a couple of months is scary, but maybe I needed a kick.  And I'll take the sea and the sound of seagulls over the tarmac and the sound of police cars, any day of the week.


Here's an interesting thing: the UnMonastery. The idea is that they take a place with special needs for particular sorts of technology, and then pay a group of individuals to come in and dedicate their time to fulfilling those needs. The project is time limited to February 2014 to May 2014, and projects can run for two to four months within that period.   The current call is for unMonastery Matera, in Italy.

They aren't offering very much money - upto 350 euros for travel and 400 euros a month subsistence allowance, but this seems like a very interesting opportunity if you have the skills they are looking for and want to take an opportunity to travel to Italy.  See the full background here.