Hastings is really three towns in one joined by a level promenade; the Old Town to the east, the bustling contemporary shopping Town Centre in the middle and St Leonards to the west

The beautiful Hastings old town is a stretch of picturesque cottages, townhouses and passageways. With independent shops and cafes, bars and al fresco restaurants, it makes the perfect place to wonder around, browsing in the antique shops, or to shop for flowers and herbs, upmarket homewares, books and clothing.

Down on the seafront is The Stade, where the tall, black, net huts of the town’s still-working fishing fleet are located, although its fishing industry has declined it still has Europe’s largest beach-launched fishing fleet. The sleek, black-tiled Jerwood is a stunning new art gallery housing a collection of 20th and 21st century British art that has never before been seen by the public is also nearby, while a short walk away is the brand new pier. For the best views of both the pier and the old town, take one of the two old funiculars up the hills on either side. West Hill is topped by the ruins of the old castle erected by William I after his victory at the Battle of Hastings and East Hill is the start of a three-mile stretch of lovely coastline that makes up Hastings Country Park.

St Leonards-on-Sea has been part of Hastings, since the late 19th century though it retains a sense of separate identity. To the west of the border from the aptly-named Bohemia Road down to Hastings Pier. St Leonards is largely made up of terraces and squares of Regency housing. Featuring the classical elegance of James Burton’s architecture and his son Decimus. Taking some of the ideas they’d already practised on smart parts of London. There is the fashionable Norman Road, recently named as the new ‘Portobello Road-on sea’ by The Times` and offering a great collection of antique shops and vintage galleries. There is also the Kino-Theatre which is housed in St Leonards’ oldest movie theatre and has been restored by Baker Mamonova Gallery and transformed into an independent Cinema, Arts Centre, Music Venue and Restaurant.

I’m a chimney sweep in Hastings

Chimney sweep in Hastings

Moving from London to St Leonards has been a 10-year dream fulfilled for me and my husband. Being a 15-minute walk from the sea, I try to visit it everyday if work permits, and promenade along the seafront as do many others, breathing in the clean sea air and enjoying wonderful views across the channel.

When I first arrived and being a cynical Londoner I was surprised (but pleasantly) by everyone smiling at me… at first I thought I had something on my face but realised that’s what people do here, they smile, they say good morning, its lovely. The community here has blown me away with their warmth, friendliness and made me feel incredibly welcome.

Local folklore has it that nobody can leave St Leonards unless they find a pebble with a hole in it and chuck it into the sea. The other day, I found one…and dropped it safely back on the beach. Somebody else might want it but I am forever happy by the sea.