Bill Bryson heaps high praise on Sussex coast

Celebrated author Bill Bryson has praised Sussex and the South Downs in his latest book.

Thursday, 1st October 2015, 4:18 pm
Picture of author Bill Bryson enjoying the South Downs SUS-150110-161110001

The writer mentions several local places of interest including an Eastbourne town centre eatery, the pier and Birling Gap his new book The Long Road to Little Dribbling, the long awaited follow up to his bestseller Notes from a Small Island.

Mr Bryson says the 100 mile stretch of the South Downs Way between Winchester and Eastbourne is one of his favourite parts of the British countryside and he writes about the cliffs.

“At Birling Gap, there used to be a fairly horrible cafe but the National Trust has absorbed it in to its tasteful care and converted it into a paradise for people who look as if they have just stepped out of a Barbour catalogue,” he said.

“Across the way from the cafe there used to stand an extended terrace of clifftop houses. Now just four houses remain and house number four looked like it might soon be called Beach Cottage.”

Mr Bryson goes on to mention Belle Tout Lighthouse which Canadian soldiers used for target practise in the Second World War, Beachy Head and takes a swipe at the imposing South Cliff Tower.

He writes, “The views over Eastbourne’s sweeping seafront with its golden beach and scallops of advancing waves are very fine, though marred by a single high rise apartment house called South Cliff Tower, which stands distractingly in the foreground. It’s a charmless building that should never have been allowed but there you are.

“In nearly all respects however, Eastbourne is a good place. The promenade is well kept with big houses and smart hotels on one side and broad beaches on the other all leading to a good old fashioned pier, one of the few truly classic piers still standing. Just after my visit, the pier was badly damaged in a fire – seaside piers in England seem to be amazingly combustible; I don’t know why – but according to press reports it will be lovingly restored. I most emphatically hope so. It would be a tragedy to see it go.

“The charm of Eastbourne is that it is so comfortably old fashioned and nowhere is that better encapsulated than in a cafe where I always stop called Favo’loso. Inside it is forever 1957. It is like stepping into a Cliff Richard movie or something. Favo’loso is spotless and polished and shiny; it basks in a retro gleam. The food is decent, the servers efficient and friendly, the prices reasonable. What more could you ask?

“It is my favourite place in East Sussex, if not on the entire south coast.”

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