I SOMETIMES wonder whether it is wise to return to places of our youth, because often there have been great changes which make us feel quite disappointed and depressed.
It was with this thought in mind that I recently booked with our local coach company to visit Rye and Hastings.
Before the Second World War, my mother used to rent a seaside bungalow at Winchelsea Beach, about three miles westwards of Rye, for our summer holiday.
The whole family, including a couple of cousins, used to enjoy our stay by the sea and visits to the surrounding countryside.
There were also trips to sleepy Rye which, together with Winchelsea, was part of the old Cinque Ports Confederation of 1189, designated to defend the country from the French.
Rye was right on the coast then but, due to storms and the River Rother changing its course, Rye is now some two miles from the coast.
The little town used to be famous for its two carnivals, one in August the other on Rye Fawkes Night, the local version of Bonfire Night, held on or around November 5.
In each case, a long procession winds its way through the narrow streets. Having watched the floats pass by in one road, you can pop along to the next street and see the procession all over again – hearing a brass band leading at the front with the tune Sussex by the Sea.
On my recent visit to Rye, the little town was so crowded with visitors that the coach driver could not park, so he decided that we would move on to Hastings. On the way, we passed by old Winchelsea, which brought back more memories.
These included the time when my brother and I had travelled down to the South Coast on our tandem and decided to go to Hastings on the bike.
On taking a bend, the crown of the road was wet with dew, the front wheel skidded and we slid across the road on our sides.
None the worst for the spill, we travelled on to Hastings, where we caught a paddle steamer called the Glen Gower for a day out in France. Quite an adventure.
On my recent visit, the coach was much safer and we made our way to the seafront at Hastings.
Like holidays as children, it was a bright sunny day. After a lunch on the front, I found my way to the West Cliff Railway. This was built in Victorian times to take passengers up to the grassy summit of the cliffs and is close to Hastings Castle.
The railway used to be run on gas but is now electrically driven, enclosed in a tunnel of Victorian brickwork.
After the Norman Conquest of 1066, William of Normandy ordered three castles to be built for defence, at Dover, Pevensey and Hastings.
During severe storms in the 13th century, parts of the Hastings cliffs fell into the sea and took away parts of Hastings Castle. The building suffered again during subsequent raids by the French, the castle fell into a state of ruin.
Bombing in the Second World War further damaged the castle, which was eventually bought by the local authority and turned it into a tourist attraction.
There is another cliff railway just outside the eastern end of the town, which takes passengers to Fairlight Glen, a beautifully little cove which is great for swimming. But that for another time and visit.
All in all, my coach trip was a grand day out, with not too many disappointments except for not stopping in Rye. If any reader has not visited Rye, I would recommend it.
The old church with the clock pendulum swinging in the interior, the ancient Mermaid Inn and its involvement with smugglers, the Ypres Tower and more are there to see and wonder at.