Eastbourne Life with Graham Walker: Happy Days!

Graham Walker
Graham Walker

“Come and look at this dad”, my youngest son shouted at the crack of dawn on Monday. I made my first coffee of the day and then went to see what my hard to impress son was so excited about. And then I saw it. The sun was shining through our front window shutters and bouncing off the mirrored disco ball sitting on our piano to create little patches of sunlight across the ceiling and down two walls. For a few minutes we had a glorious little solar system all to ourselves. Then the sun rose a little further in the sky and it was gone. A lovely shared moment with my usually too cool for school son and a good start to the day.

As a parent, you can only be as happy as your least happy child. So it’s a great relief that my older son has woken up in a cheerful mood too. The reason for this is that he’s been invited on a play date with a new friend. It made me feel sad, a few days ago, when I overheard him tell his best friend from London that his new school was “totally lame”. So an invite for a play date that my son is genuinely excited about makes me want to jump and punch the air with joy on his behalf. Funny how a small act of kindness from another parent can make a whole family’s week so much happier.

Once the kids are safely at school my thoughts turn to what to do as I have a day off. The sun is shining so brightly that going out on the Downs is the only option. So the hundred odd jobs and finishing the unpacking will have to wait for another day. Is it only me that finds the Eastbourne sunshine irresistible on days like this? Job adverts in California sometimes say ‘No Surfers’ because good waves usually mean a few no shows in any workplace. Should Eastbourne job adverts say “No Sun Junkies” to discourage people like me?

It’s only when I have left my car in East Dean and I am on the bus to the Golden Galleon that I realise that my flask of tea has been leaking out of my rucksack and down my back. Luckily I am on my own and there’s no one to listen to me rant and rave about rubbish modern flasks. My walk along Cuckmere Haven and over the Seven Sisters is stunningly beautiful. If there is anyone left in town who has not done this walk they you get out and enjoy it on a warm Spring day before the summer crowds. It was so hot that my jacket and fleece where soon in my rucksack along with the legs from my new hiking trousers. Though judging by the looks I got when I arrived at East Dean I might not be in such a rush to show my white legs again any time soon!

I am starting to become a regular in the Big Sleep hotel bar. On Sunday, I enjoyed watching the end of England’s great rugby win over France with all the great people from Eastbourne’s local cycling group Bespoke. Our family enjoyed the mass social ride along the seafront, even if two kids in front of me where almost knocked off their bikes by a car door being opened as they went past. It just showed again how dangerous the coast road is for family cycling even when accompanied by eighty or so fellow cyclists with flags waving and bells ringing. As the kids up front sang “What do we want? A seafront cycle path. When do we want it? Now!”

The Council has a great new cycling strategy that Bespoke have supported. The problem now is getting the strategy financed. It doesn’t help having East Sussex responsible for roads and Eastbourne Council for the promenade. Perhaps we need an independent Eastbourne Cycling Champion to knock some heads together. Not just to get cycle paths built but also to encourage more of us to get on our bikes. There would be huge economic, health and environmental benefits to making faster progress.


On Monday, I made my second trip to the Big Sleep to join more than 40 people at the monthly Eastbourne Can meeting. Tracey McNulty, Eastbourne’s Tourism Chief, presented the Council’s plans for the redevelopment of Devonshire Park. She did fantastically well to compete with the Asrenal game on the television in the corner of the bar. I left feeling strongly that plans for the redevelopment should include the Wish Tower Restaurant and a new extended pedestrian area between the two sites. Otherwise the two developments, could end up competing rather than complimenting each other.


Finally, I would be grateful if someone could tell me why Sovereign Harbour isn’t called Eastbourne Harbour? Surely, the town and the harbour would both benefit by closer association. Brighton has a marina. Why can’t Eastbourne have a harbour?


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