The Collective

Jo Fairley’s Hastings


My attitude to Hastings can be summed up in a single phrase: ‘I do like to be beside the seaside.’ (Those of you who believe in such things might feel it has something to do with being a Cancerian. And, with the dawn of the internet (both a curse and a blessing), it’s become possible to live pretty much where you’d like. Which, in my case, is Hastings Old Town: more a ‘village’, really, of 4,000 people living in an extraordinary patchwork of buildings (from medieval to modern), tucked between two steep hills – with the beach at the end of the road. What’s not to love…?

When we moved here (that’s me and Craig Sams, health food entrepreneur, biochar guru and my co-founder in Green & Black’s Chocolate), it wasn’t exactly ‘Shoreditch-on-Sea’ – which is one of the comments often heard nowadays, as DFLs (Down From Londoners) discover our quirky mix of dozens of independent shops and restaurants.

Because it was hard to get our hands on good, organic food, we decided to take over our local bakery (founded 1826), turn it organic and put in a one-stop organic and local food store. Then, two years later, frustrated that there wasn’t somewhere I could go to do Yoga or have a fab massage, I transformed a run-down local Regency-era council building into The Wellington Centre: a 9-room ’boutique’ wellbeing centre which offers 20 classes a week (Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi, etc.), and every imaginable therapy from Colonic Hydrotherapy to Deep Tissue Massage, via facials and Physio. In the past seven years, we’ve seen an influx of Londoners, who – like us – have moved here for improved quality of life. Read More…

VH Eats


‘A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness’ – Elsa Schiaparelli

I’m a foodie … somewhat lapsed, although I still hold a fascination for all things food. In a former life, I entertained constantly, threw dinner parties for 50 people on many occasions and would travel miles for special ingredients. I made Chocolate Mousse cakes that took three days to complete, glorious roulades that didn’t split and a six tier ‘Maltesers cake’, which my children and their friends still talk about!

Cookery books, I devoured them and would spend hours reading them and looking at the evocative photography. The wonderful shop, Books for Cooks (in Notting Hill) was a constant source of many memorable moments, none more so than when I discovered The Silver Palate Cookbook series, which are still amongst my most favourite books, although I’m not too sure they are still in print. Read More…