Hastings doesn't do anything by halves.
Particularly with reference to May Day celebrations.
The origins of Jack-in-the-Green lie wreathed in the mists of time. Which is exactly what we found when we arrived on the West Hill at midday to see the procession arrive at its destination.
Lots of it, rolling up the hill from the sea like a miasma.
However, just a few minutes before the beat of drums heralded the arrival of the Jack, the mist melted away, the sun came out and the whole of Hastings was revealed.
To be honest, I have absolutely no idea what Jack-in-the-Green is all about.
There's a Jack.
So far so good.
Then there's giants.
And a giant mermaid.
And Herne the Hunter.
And more Morris Dancers than you can shake a stick at.
Being Hastings there's lot of pagan bacchanalian revelry, and possibly some deflowering of virgins, although the latter is purely speculative.
Having watched the procession arrive, we fought our way through the crowds, down the West Hill steps to the Old Town, where we fell, exhausted, into a lovely little seafood restaurant in George Street, and subsequently ate our own bodyweight in mussels in a delicious white wine and cream sauce.
After lunch, we wandered along the seafront, admiring the many, many, MANY motorbikes which had descended on Hastings for the annual May Day bike run, and chanced upon an old fashioned sweet shop, where I espied proper Scottish tablet. Having purchased a small bagfull, I reconnoitred with PP outside.
Me: Oh you're going to love this. But the thing about tablet. The thing you have to remember. It's very, very rich.......
PP: snarf, scoff, slurp, mumble.....
Me: ..... and you really can't eat much of it.
PP: Mmmmm.... more please.
Anyway, after we'd eaten Small Dog's bodyweight in tablet, we waddled along a bit further till we came to Dom's Ice Cream Parlour on the seafront, which PP fondly remembered from her childhood, back in the last century. So naturally we had to stop for a proper '99'.
By then I was feeling a bit bilious so we walked a bit further along to wait for our pre-booked taxi, being mindful of the fact that the world and his brother were in Hastings for the day and therefore parking was always going to be a nightmare.
We stood by the side of the road, watching the bikers zoom past, close to two policemen who were observing proceedings by a set of pedestrian crossing traffic lights.
While the lights were red, a chap in a big shiny car engaged one of the policemen in conversation.
Man: Excuse me my good man. We've just motored down from London donchyaknow for this Jack-in-the-Green shindig and I'll be blowed if I can find somewhere to park. Where might you suggest?
Policeman: (scratching his chin thoughtfully) Well Surrr. Somewhere to park? In Hastings? On our busiest day of the year? Let me think.......I'd suggest Lunndunn. Harrharrharr.
Man: Stony silence
Policeman: Sorrrry surrr. Just my little joke as it were. Well, as you can see, having circumavigated the town several times already, parking is at a bit of a premium. But just you wait there surrr..... I'll arsk Sergeant Colin.
(Beckons Sergeant Colin)
Policeman: Sergeant Colin. This here h'gentleman's come all the way down from that there Lunndunn for the day and wants to know where he can park.
Sergeant Colin: Ho..... right. Well let me think. What about Ore. No. That'll be chockablock. Maybe Northiam? Beckley.......?
(Man drives off in disgust)
Policeman and Sergeant Colin remain on duty, waiting for it to be like that bit in Hot Fuzz where it all goes mental.
Our taxi duly arrives and we get back home where it's scorchio on the patio.
PP: I think we should fire up the BBQ.
Me: We're having cheese souffle for dinner.