Thursday, 29 May 2008

Wonderful Worthing!

Think Worthing; think Brighton's downtrodden, sleepy neighbour; the place where people see out their twilight years; a shoddy seafront with not much to offer; no culture unless tribute bands and dance teas are your bag and no trendy cafes or restaurants in sight!

Live Worthing and know that things are on the up! We moved here from uber trendy Brighton nearly three years ago to sniggers of amazement from friends; " What will you do there?" they asked incredulously. "Live", was our reply. The fact was that Worthing offered beautiful, spacious homes at 'normal' prices, 'outstanding' Ofsted schools with the West Sussex education system that we thought really appealing, wonderful libraries, a Museum and Gallery offering imaginative and ever changing exhibitions and a feeling of 'real life'. Gone was the middle class, judgemental snootyness of Brighton and in were 'ordinary' people and an amazingly friendly community!

When we arrived we delighted in Worthing's quiet ways; endless walks on the sandy beach with the tide way out and no other bodies around, the odd cafe serving coffee without a latte in sight, the best two penny slot arcade we've ever seen and the surrounding countryside with Cissbury and Chanctonbury Hills to run wild on. We were in heaven.

And then slowly things began to change; really decent cafes opened up - Pestle and Mortar, Coast, Parklife; the renovated Dome cinema re-opened with it's own film club to rival Brighton's Duke of Yorks; a wonderful independent music shop and even a Monsoon! The highly bonkers and entertaining Birdman has been moved from Bognor Regis to Worthing and the beautiful open gardens of Ambrose Place have hit the broadsheets. Worthing is waking up!

Art wise Worthing offers RAG - The Revolutionary Arts Group a central site for local artists and makers which organises festivals and open houses throughout the year. Walter Jack Studio’s has been selected to develop a £70,000 piece of public artwork at Splash Point along the seafront. The artwork, called 'Suncloud' is made up of 44 steel masts approximately four metres tall, topped with a solar panel and LED light. Independent galleries are cropping up in town and in the smaller surrounding villages and in 2007 the town staged a huge campaign to save Dame Elisabeth Frink's 'Desert Quartet - four bronze heads which sit atop the exterior of the town's main shopping centre.

Every other person we meet has moved from Brighton or London, the beach is full of families enjoying the safety of its waters and the cafes are bustling. Part of us doesn't want too much change - we loved the nostalgic feel this place had when we moved here - but then again I have to admit I am partial to a latte!


Jon said...

Most of these pictures are of our lovely walk along the beach, to the town (via Coast the organic beach cafe!).
However before we start thinking that Worthing is the new San Fran, it does still cling to some idiosyncracies - such as the bowls tournament sponsored by 'Funeralcare'!, the editor of the local paper who seems to think the Daily Mail is dangerously left wing (he's talking of moving to Spain to get away from all those foreigners!) and town centre shops and cafes that board-up windows facing the sea.
But the place is so very changed from a few years ago when coffee was diluted for fear of overexciting the old folks and twenty and thirty somethings were invisible in the streets.

ethicalweddings said...

We moved to Worthing last year from Hove (to afford a house!) and we agree it's lovely.

I like the 'up and coming' cafes but I like the idiosyncracies too that make it a stubbornly English beach resort... I hope they don't all get swept away.

Yey Worthing!

Anonymous said...

Hopefully we will move there from Essex in around two years time.

We've always liked Brighton (I was from near-by East Grinstead) but Worthing seems to have the peace and and atmosphere!