East Sussex Stories

In the midst of the biggest and most serious lockdown in history we have found ourselves living down on the south coast of England in a little Airbnb apartment. With everything still closed we are almost treading water like the rest of the country as we move towards summer and hopefully an easing of restrictions. However we haven’t just sat around watching TV eating crisps, we have strived to get out and about exploring as much as we possibly can.

A few tales from our three weeks in East Sussex.

Leopardskin St Leonards

On our daily walks down to the beach and either way along the promenade we’ve noticed something very strange about the people of St Leonards. There are the normal runners of course and a selection of coffee drinkers, mums with pushchairs, and couples wrapped up against the cold but cutting across all of these groups is something we never ever expected. Leopardskin Ladies!

You generally see the odd fake fur coat or animal print top but they are everywhere here! Every day we see scores of women of all ages sporting a leopardskin coat of some sort. So many and so strange that we have to stop ourselves from pointing now and just nod knowingly at each other mouthing “there goes another one“. Weird. We desperately wanted to take pictures of them all but it seemed a little rude so the above photo is just an artistic representation. Use you imagination.

Mothers Day

For the first time in six years we have been at a relatively fixed address for Mother’s Day so Jo was lucky enough to receive cards and gifts from our three lovely sons. It’s the little things in life that are so special isn’t it?

Delighted to be sporting one of her Mother’s Day gifts.

Roll on Father’s Day!

Astrazeneca in Eastbourne

Like the rest of the country we have been avidly following the Covid vaccination programme and we were delighted last week to be able to both get our first dose of the Atrazeneca vaccine. We managed to book our spots online via the NHS app and arranged to head along the coast to nearby Eastbourne, only 20 minutes on the train.

A short walk from the station to the aptly-named Welcome Centre and the whole process was almost over before it had begun. Fantastically organised and operated by a wonderful team of nurses and volunteers it ran like clockwork and we were soon back on the seafront eating sandwiches and enjoying a coffee. Brilliant.

Our second dose is booked for 11 weeks time but will be in the neighbouring seaside town of Brighton this time. Hopefully we will be there for a housesit if everything works out ok.

Attack of the Kidney Stone

In our six years of travelling, that’s right it has been six years since we decided to change our lives and do something ‘different’, we have been extremely lucky not to have any serious medical issues. Regular doctors and dentists check-ups aside we haven’t experienced anything unpleasant. That luck ran out for me a few weeks ago when we in Birchington.

Picture the scene. Saturday night, just finished dinner and sitting down to watch a film when I suddenly had a serious stomach ache. After trying to ignore it for a while I took to bed for a lay down but it just got worse, When Jo asked if I’d like her to call 111 I surprisingly agreed. I’m not one to make a fuss but this felt different and after a couple of phone consultations I was being escorted into an ambulance by a couple of paramedics.

Overnight at Margate hospital for checks and tests and painkillers (thank goodness) and first thing Sunday morning I was back in an ambulance to be taken for emergency surgery at Canterbury hospital.

After more tests I was informed that it was a fairly large kidney stone lodged halfway down my urethra and that I needed a stent inserted to ease the pain and help the kidney recover. The minor surgery wasn’t a problem and the nurses and doctors were absolutely fantastic and a day later I was back with Jo at our Airbnb.

It was worse for Jo unfortunately as my phone was dead and she didn’t have a clue where I was or what was going on most of the time. I did manage to borrow one for a quick call from Canterbury but it was really stressful for her.

So since then I’ve been living with this stent and all the issues that it creates. It’s not mega-painful but it’s not nice and I can’t really walk much more than 10 minutes without needing a toilet. Big impact on our daily exercise and very restrictive. Just have to wait now until they call me back for the second operation to laser the stone away and remove the stent. To say that I can’t wait would be an understatement.

The Census and all that

A major event in England yesterday was the national census. It has taken place every 10 years since 1801 and it is a legal duty for every adult to complete. The government uses the results to make economic plans for the future so it’s vitally important.

So I dutifully went online and completed the census with all of our information for our current Airbnb address. Easy. However, a few hours later the owner of the Airbnb came to the door waving the ‘official’ census letter and panicking over how to complete it. I tried to calm him by saying it was all done and nothing for him to worry about.

He continued with the letter-waving though, slowly getting more excited and stressing himself out. Words like ‘legal‘, ‘law‘ and even ‘the police‘ started to roll off his tongue as I kept trying to placate him. Finally I had to firmly tell him that unless he had logged in and started the process again there wasn’t anything for him to worry about. Unfortunately it seems that he had done exactly that. Submitted a new record for the same address thus completely overwriting my previously completed work!

Now I should have been the one getting cross but I agreed to log on and finish off his new record as he blamed me for not letting him know my date of birth and old occupation! So to be a good neighbour and help out I did it all again.

Job done once more eh? Well not really. He popped back later in the day saying he had tried to have another go but it looked confusing so he’d started it over again! Inside I was screaming but on the outside I just asked for the letter, told him I’d sort it, and very gently closed the door!

So either we’re not included anywhere or we are recorded as living in St Leonards for the next 30 years!

17/03 – 23/03/2021


    • Yeah it’s not great but trying to just ignore it most of the time as I don’t think I’ll get an appointment for a while. Just miss the long walks we like to do.


  1. Sorry to hear you were rushed into hospital Jon. Sounds like a very painful condition!! I’m glad your on the mend though but it’s going to take awhile. I bet your missing your long walks but the main objective is to get you back to your fighting fit self😀 It’s nice to read about a few of my old haunts. I like Eastbourne a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It wasn’t a lot of fun Liz but learning to live with it now. Really missing those long walks but trying to get out and about exploring the area as much as possible. Eastbourne is such a lovely town, really underrated.


  2. Do hope you are on the mend and starting to feel better. It must be so frustrating not being able to walk very far…especially during these times when walking is one of the few things we are allowed to do. Glad to hear you did get your first shot though! let’s hope that better times are ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my gosh, how frustrating. I could feel myself becoming agitated by the landlord while reading your post 😂😂😂 geez, some people do make life difficult.
    Sorry to hear that you were incapacitated by a nasty kidney stone, they are very painful, so hopefully it’s not too long before they get rid of it.
    Its lovely to note that you found somewhere nice to stay over this period, and St Leonard’s is a gorgeous area. I worked in Bexhill 5 years ago and used to walk to the Hastings pier and back. Easy walking coz of it being so flat.
    So glad Jo had a good mother’s day.
    Looking forward to your future adventures as soon as lockdown releases us….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Loving our stay in St Leonards, such a nice part of the world and coastal walks to Hastings and Bexhill have been so good. Not going to get the kidney stone sorted for a couple of months unfortunately so just need to live with it. Just a shame about the long walks.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So sorry to hear about the nasty kidney stone. Although I have never had the experience, as a nurse, I’ve certainly witnessed patients in such extreme distress from the pain. I hope you get your call to have the laser done soon.
    Good news about the vaccine, I had mine last week as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just heard that I wont get the stone removed for a few months as the waiting lists are so long. Just need to find a way to live with it now, lots of people in far worse situations but it will curtail our long walks unfortunately. Pleased to hear you had the vaccine too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry to hear about your kidney stone, but glad you were able to get vaccinated! I’m not sure when my turn will roll around, but I do hope it’s before I have to go back to work in May (I’m on a waiting list for any surplus doses from one of the local vaccination centres, but I suspect my GP will text me before they do). I was actually quite excited to do the census, but your experience doesn’t sound pleasant (though still better than the kidney stone!).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Three months!!!!! Oh I feel for you!! I have been there done that 5 times with kidney stones and all were removed or lasered immediately. NOT a fan of socialized medicine AT ALL!!! To put in the stents without taking out the stone sounds backwards to me – they always removed the stone FIRST and then put in the stent (for only 2 weeks) after to aid in healing. I am so sorry you have to go through this! I pray you are able to get in sooner!

    Liked by 1 person

    • They couldn’t laser the stone as it was causing an obstruction and infection needed sorting out first. If stones are in the kidneys then they can be lasered immediately. The NHS is not socialised medicine, it’s the best medical system in the world bar none. Every single person treated equally as they should be. Brilliant. Happy to wait as there are so many people in far worse situations than I am.


  7. Haha! Briliant to hear that after 6 years you’ve had to take a dose of longish term domesticity and sort out stuff that us non travelling folk have to deal with all the time!! Obviously no haha at the kidney stone. Sounds nasty mate. Hope the op invite arrives soon. The vaccine was really slick here too. No side effects? I felt like s***e for 36 hours. Real Man Flu Plus!!!! Ros had her’s a couple of weeks before me and was absolutely fine. Of course she spent those 36 hours just mocking me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sorry for the health issues, Jonno. Doesn’t sound much fun! We were involved in a medical emergency on Easter Sunday morning and things are just settling down. And funnily enough a lady delivered our Census papers here in Portugal today. Are you copying me? 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Oh that doesn’t sound much fun Jonno, hopefully you are on the mend now and thing settle down for you. Apparently kidney stones aren’t much fun! I didn’t realise it was census time over there for you but hopefully it’s all OK for you. Enjoy the lifting of restrictions as they happen, and take care.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’m sorry to hear about the kidney stone, I suppose in a way its good that life is set at a slow pace for the time being anyway. Gives you time to rest up and get sorted. Aren’t we lucky to have the NHS to take care of us when something crops up.

    The Leopardskin Ladies…intriguing! Whatever can it be all about. Local trend? Secret society? Some other significance? There’s a story in there somewhere!

    Liked by 1 person

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