Praise be! We’ve just found our ideal beach scenario. I said in my post about the wonderful Front Room in Seaford that the beach front here can be a bit lack lustre given it’s immense size, brilliant promenade and cliff walk at one end.
As I wrote in that post, we’ve always favoured heading all the way to the end and parking up by the Martello Tower (and Seaford Museum), because of the little tea hut there, with its picnic tables on the pebbly beach and proximity to the public loos. But in that first really properly sunny weekend in April – the last weekend of the school holidays – we headed to Seaford with the boys’ bikes to do just this, and made such an exciting discovery in Frankie’s.
Heading away from the Martello Tower towards Newhaven basically – we came across this other little tea hut, this time standalone and hexagonal in shape, and notable from a distance for the cluster of red-and-white striped deck chairs sitting on the beach across the promenade from it. These were laid out in couplings, with a little tin table placed between each pair. Just beyond it, the boys noticed a patch of yellow sand, ringed with more deck chairs and little tables.
But hang on, Seaford is a PEBBLE beach, right, even when the tide’s way out. I approached the open hatch in the hut and spoke to a supremely affable man I can only assume is the ‘Dom’ who signed off the daily hand-chalked weather report on the outside of the hut. (I’ve looked at the café’s Facebook page and the one we saw was one of the tamer ones – they are a hilarious running commentary on the British weather and our propensity towards pessimism).
He said that each year for the past five, just as the diggers that populate the beach over the winter leave, he asks them to dig a socking great hole just to the right of Frankie’s which he fills with 10 tonnes of play sand for kids to enjoy. A little is lost to the wind on really blustery days, but otherwise the sand remains there all summer.
Dom said he doesn’t care if people bring their picnics and own drinks to sit there while their kids enjoy his on-beach sandpit. He (correctly!) said that at some point they’ll probably buy an ice cream for the kids, or otherwise will remember he’s there for next time. (His relaxed policy is the antithesis of a certain play farm near Lewes whose extreme tightness, inflexibility and outright money-grabbing attitude has seen me now swear never ever to go there again. Side-rant over).
We sat and lingered over a mug of hot tea each while our boys, equipped with claw-spades, spent at least an hour totally absorbed in sand play. How unexpected for a day at Seaford Beach!
Frankie’s Beach Café is good enough and charming enough to be an actual destination for a day out for us – it’s a ‘shall we go to Frankie’s today and just hang out?’ kind of place. Along with The Front Room, it has upped the credentials of Seaford for us no end (although we’ve always liked it there a lot, truth be told).
I posted a pic or two on Instagram when we got home, and several people chimed in with how much they love it too, so this is clearly not big news to most other people, but nevertheless it deserves a write-up. I’m told by these readers that the toasties are amazing, and food prices are super-low and (like us) they dream of Frankie’s one day being licensed so they can sip a glass of wine as the sun goes down…
By the way, have a look at the windows of the apartment building just behind and to the right of Frankie’s at some point. Spotting an enormous tiger* sitting in a white arm chair and looking wistfully out to sea, my boys and I had a long conversation about why he was up there and not out playing on the beach. ‘He’s drunk all that daddy’s beer who lives there,’ said my older son. ‘And eaten all the buns on the dish, and all the sandwiches on the plate, and all the tins in the cupboard’, said my little one.
So he had a food baby and was feeling a bit lethargic, we all agreed.
*The tiger is so realistic that a couple of days after this conversation, my youngest had a full-blown nightmare in the middle of the night about a tiger sitting downstairs in our living room. Just to warn!
Drive: 20 minutes
Train: Twice hourly, 18 minutes
Address: Esplanade, Seaford (kind of opposite the road to Seaford Old Town)
Tel no.: 07505 949 167
Website: none, see facebook.com/frankiesbeachcafe
Open: Winter (Nov-Apr) weekends; summer, daily – all weather dependent
Disclosure: No compensation, financial or otherwise, was offered or exchanged for the writing of this post. I had a chat with Dom at Frankie’s and didn’t tell him I was writing a blog post or why I was asking him questions about his café. We stumbled across the café and I think it’s brilliant.
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