A newcomer's view of Hastings.........

AS a relative newcomer to Hastings and St. Leonards (the dreaded DFL - Down-from-London) I find it hard to join in with the 'knockers' and 'moaners' who are constantly complaining about what the town has to offer.

To me, it's a thriving multi-cultural melting pot with infinite possibilities.

One such new and exciting innovation is the Wellington Square Natural Health Centre.

Hauling myself out of bed for an 8am yoga class isn't high on my list of 'must do's', but on a rainy Monday morning last week, that's exactly what happened and I am still reaping the benefits!

Cream yoga mats, a non competitive environment and fluffy blankets saw to my mental angst, while the scrupulously supervised yoga stretches and breathing techniques ironed out the physical glitches.

The centre is spread over four floors and represents an oasis of calm amongst the hubub of shopping possibilities nearby. Decorated in browns, taupes and natural fabrics, I could have stayed all day, moving from the fully equipped Pilates studio, to one of the five therapy rooms where any number of treatments are available. Hopi Ear Candling, Medical Herbalism, T'ai Chi-Qigong being just three of the thirty five I counted!

With the smoking ban imminent, I decided to have a one and a half hour session with Rosie Harness to finally crack my addiction to the dreaded weed.

Using a mixture of counselling, hypnotherapy, Imaging and Neurolinguistic programming techniques, Rosie favours a positive approach to highlight the fact that there is simply no need to smoke. (If we're so addicted, how come we can sleep eight hours without a fag?!)

Half way through the session, with a mixture of guilty pleasure and panic, I had my last cigarette.

Rosy boasts a 95% success rate and while I don't want to jinx it, five days on my skin is clearer, I can walk up East Hill without coughing, and the prospect of restaurants, bars and clubs soon to be smoke free, holds no fear.

It's not overly useful to make comparisons, but The Wellington Square Natural Health Centre could knock spots off any number of metropolitan spas and health clubs and certainly indicates that Hastings is moving in the right direction.

Leave the negativity at home and pay them a visit. I guarantee you won't regret it!


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(Maria McErlane has written for The Daily Mail, The Evening Standard, The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times and has a monthly column on Esquire).

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