Take me home please
Seaside Pie and Mash, Eastbourne
Season 2011-2012

Four travelled for the price of two on Network Rail as the Pie and Mash Club headed due south from London for its annual seaside beano on Saturday 21st April. A meticulously planned series of multiple meetups culminated at Clapham Junc's famous Platform 13 where the Eastbourne service was boarded.


After a 90-minute ride the travellers were keen to stretch their legs and build up a zesty appetite, but mere moments after arrival in the retirement resort, Edward and Michael were accosted to help with a mobility vehicle.

In picturesque seafront gardens the Orange Frisbee [and temporary P-n-M Trophy] was ceremonially hurled despite a stiff onshore headwind and the disapproving glare of the local populace, but divots, skids and pratfalls were skilfully avoided.

A stroll along the shingle towards the pier provided an opportunity for Edward Mosse to get his socks off and bare his calves (see leader pic). By the time we reached the Pie Shop on Seaside Road, appetites were sufficiently piqued. Once inside, we were greeted by the familiar pie faces of Rikk Lucas and Chris Charalambous, who was already polishing off his first course.

Chris's second and third course [a steamed syrup pud and custard].

To my surprise and delight, my dear other sister Rach and her two girls were 'ensconed' in the back booths. Here they are: Juliet, Eva and Rach, who has suffered a regrettable Gallic gastric influence. Her pies were liberally doused with something French called 'Le Saveur'. I believe its chief constituents are desiccated Normandy toecheese and Breton trawlerman's armpit cake. I wouldn't touch it with a pole de barge, but 'à chacun son goût', as they say over there.

For our pleasure and convenience the services of a local guide were negotiated. Peter Gill of Eastbourne Astronomical Soc. was drawn hither many years ago by crystal-clear night skies and a reputable local butcher's. At Seaside's, Stargazy Pie was not on the menu, so the eminent telescopist and shirt-pocket cutlerian had to content himself with a high-quality beef mince filling.

Another notable guest came down the East Sussex coast to join us. He is my dear old friend and skipper, Jason 'Ahab' Catchpole, sailing out of Hastings port. (Regular readers will of course be familiar with the Catchpole senior.) The skipper is currently landlubbing in order to complete his fine art studies, and was buzzing at the prospect of an upcoming interview with potty local potter Grayson Perry as part of his module. If the q+a goes well Perry might throw a vase for him. If not, at him.

The Ace of Pies was accompanied by a glamorous female companion called Jane whom he claimed was his wife. Could it be the same she who was left with the kids at Surrey Quays Shopping Facility while Pete improved his league standing in Southwark Park Road? The lady Jane joined in sportingly, although she declined the green gravy.

Linda Holligan of New Malden showed the quality of her Battersea upbringing by leaving a pristine platter. The uncharacteristic flourish was for the camera.

Here is the two-woman team who made our delicious lunch possible. Donna [above left] is the proud owner of the establishment. Donna is from Poland and took on the former Oastler's some two years ago as a radical change of career. The recipes were part of the deal, but she has listened to customer feedback and since made countless refinements. I think she has brought a fresh perspective and enthusiasm to the traditional dish and the result is truly excellent fare.

Her compact and able assistant was the redoubtable Jan who showed me how she starts the working day. An ex-Londoner who has been in the town three years, Jan was happy to say 'Eastbourne's been good to me.'

On the far right is a pastry roller. It was a privilege to get these behind-the-counter glimpses during brisk Saturday lunchtime trading.

Goods despatched.

The club was responsible for emptying two of these trays.

We brought a bit of London to East Sussex . . . and we certainly took a chunk of East Sussex back to London. The only casualty was ex-champ Rikk Lucas who suffered a blow-out on his second plateful and had to exit the shop quickly to gulp down some fresh air. Luckily his condition quickly stabilised, but he had to 'abandon pie' – one of the toughest decisions a dedicated pie and masher can make.

There followed a motion to seek ice cream . . .
carried unanimously.

Linda Holligan had a double-take as we passed the the notable shopfront of Notarianni's, a fabulously unchanged milk bar/cafe/ice cream parlour. For Linda it was a taste of her 1950s childhood long since disappeared from inner London.

Mike Goldwater pretty much secured fourth place in Season 11-12, but that didn't stop him from visiting the sweet shop after his cornet. The rookie pie and masher has had an outstanding freshman year despite a halting start to his career: 'I had my first p and m in Margate but then university got in the way.' The Dr Who-bie has, in my opinion, the makings of a latter-day Time Lord, but for the moment he'll have to accept the title 'Sweet Lord' – Mike's Magic Bag certainly worked wonders on Rikk Lucas's jaded appetite.

Our final port of call was in the old town, the historic Lamb Inn. Dating back to 1180, it's one of the oldest and most historic pubs in England. We were there to soak up some history, but more specifically the local ale. Fittingly our local guide brought to us a four-pint carafe, humorously described a 'jug of beery loveliness'. That it was, for this Harvey's Sussex Best is brewed not more than 20 miles hither in Lewes.

The skipper was agreeably in agreement after an aggregation of libation.


A grand day out.