Sunday, 29 January 2012

St Leonard's to Bexhill - new cycle track

Another Sunday, another walk.  This time, starting at the old Bathing Pool site, walking to Bexhill, back on the bus. 
     I like the idea of the new 'Lido' development on the pool site, but the name is misleading - how can you have a Lido which isn't a pool? We think the Council should commission one of those Dotto landtrains to run along the sea-front from Hastings - like they have in Eastbourne.  I have read about people wanting the Miniature Railway to be extended, but that would be far too costly, in my view.

Another blazing sunny morning - sitting watching the world go by at the Beach Cafe by the Retail Park.  Us Brummies couldn't get over it back in the summer - you could combine a visit to B & Q with a visit to the beach!  Anyway, we walked along the new cycle track.  I read in the local paper that some old bloke was knocked down by a speeding cyclist when he emerged from the tunnel by the cafe - it does indeed need a chicane or some such to slow them down as they hurtle down the hill.  I also agree with what it said in the paper about the gravelly surface - very skid-inducing, and all that strange plastic netting stuff on the way through Bulverhythe also full of skid potential. We liked the portrait bench, but I do fear that the metal sculptures will soon be nicked.

It is heresy I know to admit this, but I don't like cyclists - they roar around self-importantly with no regard for anyone else, and then complain when they get knocked over. I particularly dislike cyclists who ride on pavements.  Nor do I like all the lycra and fancy gear they seem to think they need.... I think there will be accidents on that new cycle path, because cyclists and walkers are not separated.

The tide was out, but not far enough to see the Amsterdam.  We walked out to see the wreck one evening back in the autumn - the sky was clear, and the sunset was absolutely stunning - reflected glittering across the wet beach, with long dark shadows of the people and their dogs..  We walked and splashed and waded absolutely miles and I hadn't thought to wear wellies - I ended up barefoot with frozen feet.  We didn't think that much of the Amsterdam when we eventually reached her - just lines of black old ribs sticking out of the sand, but I am sure it has great historical interest.
Wreck of the Amsterdam

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Hastings - such variety in a town walk

This is a lovely walk, taking in all the variety and views Hastings can offer.  We crossed the Old London Road by the old convent, and puffed up the steep path to the West Hill via the Bembrook Road playground.  There, the Council have taken the brave step of installing an outdoor gym - for anyone who wants to get fit for nothing, a regular climb up the hill followed by 30 minutes on those machines will do the trick - forget Bannatynes.

From there, along Collier Road to the West Hill Green - took in the great view of the Old Town roof-scape (why do the old roofs attract that lovely green/yellow lichen?) and fishing beach.  Optional stop at the lift cafe. Then along St Mary's terrace admiring the arty houses and the views of St Leonard's.  Down Grey Owl's Reach steps - should be renamed Dog Poo Retch. Still eyes-down on poo alert, across the railway and down St James's Road to Alexandra Park.  When we first came to Hastings, we amused ourselves speculating about Alexandra and Clive Vale, who obviously are the leading lights in the bowling club.  Clearly, in January, Alexandra and Clive go to Teneriffe - the club was shuttered and squirrels were digging holes in the green. Coffee stop at the park cafe. This Sunday, it was warm enough to sit outside. Hastings should be proud of Alexandra Park - it is exceptionally attractive and well-tended, and clearly many people enjoy it.

Onwards through the park, and then one of our favourite places - the woodland ride through Shornden Wood to the reservoir. Wonderful trees, especially the big old sweet chestnuts, and something the Philosopher  has identified as a Caucasian Wing-nut.  It lives at the end of the path, by the stream below the reservoir, and has incredibly long dangling catkins in spring.

Round the right-hand side of the reservoir, across the path in the middle of the two ponds, passing the Wild Garlic wood - a hidden joy in spring.  We were intrigued to see the Terrapin traps in the ponds. Up through the top area of park we know as the 'Blow-up' lawn - there is a park very like it in the 60s film.  Up Clarence Road - optional stop at the North Star pub - Horntye Road, then past the Sports Centre into Summerfields Wood.  Down through the wood - nice to see the secret Walled Garden buzzing with volunteers. Further down to the mysterious folly/well/pool - we did a good deed by dragging a huge fallen branch out of the water - and eventually to the pretty pools at the bottom of the valley.  To town past Cornwallis Gardens - more early daffodils.  This Sunday we stopped for lunch at Ada, the Turkish restaurant in Robertson Street (very good) before getting the bus back up to Harold Road and home.

This walk is about 3.5 miles - ideal for a Sunday morning.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

How many supermarkets does Hastings need?

Why does a smallish place like Hastings and St Leonard's needs so many huge supermarkets?
    We go to Sainsburys in Sedlescombe Road - it was the first one we ever saw coming in on the A21.       That on its own is as big as anything we had in Birmingham, but later we discovered an enormous Morrisons, a colossal Asda, and what we understand to be one the biggest Tesco superstores in the UK.  Who goes to all these stores?  Do they do enough trade?  When we visited Tesco, the vast aisles were almost deserted.
   Also, all these stores cluster in the 'middle' supermarket band.  We understand Hastings has some very deprived areas, yet there seems to be only one branch of one discount supermarket - Lidl.  No Aldi.  At the top end, no Waitrose either. The little M and S food hall in the centre of town is always rammed, so clearly the top end of the market exists, as well as the discount end... I guess land must be cheaper here than in Birmingham, and the Council more willing to grant planning permission for these monsters. 
   Enough, I say, unless it is a Waitrose!  Our nearest are Eastbourne and Tenterden - all well over 20 miles away.....

Friday, 13 January 2012

Battleaxe meets The Iron Lady

We went to the Hastings Odeon to see The Iron Lady. 
     For us who are old enough to have lived through the Thatcher era, we found the political dimension of the film a bit feeble, but enjoyed it as a fine performance and a poignant study of ageing.  For us Brummies, the Odeon is a bit - how shall I say - primitive.  The seats are so uncomfortable!  We are used to vast popcorn strewed urban multiplexes with squishy padded armchairs.  We did hope to see some of that classic local cinema advertising - a wonky, faded picture of a restaurant with a crackly sound track urging one to visit 'Ying Tongs in Station Parade' or whatever.  but not so - the usual deafening light-flashing generic stuff....

We have been to the Electric Palace in the Old Town too - loved that, but as newcomers we had the feeling of walking into someone's front room..... no doubt we will get used to it.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Battle - for Battleaxes or Mad Old Bats?

Today the Philosopher and I went to Battle.  Now don't get me wrong it is a pretty little town, but walking down the High Street makes us feel incredibly young. I know one should be more tolerant and we will be old ourselves soon but those oldsters do obstruct the pavement somewhat.... To make matters worse most of the elderly customers in Jempsons were sneezing and barking and wheezing so loudly I could barely concentrate on my cappucino.. I showed iron will-power and resisted a doughnut with my coffee - Jempsons doughnuts are just the most sugary, the most jammy, the overall yummiest.  Blimey, what with doughnuts and scones, one might suspect I have a sweet tooth.  However, I have lost 4 pounds since New Year.

Another thing about Battle - the clothes shops.  I now know where to shop for Mad Old Ladies stuff.  Do you want a gold lurex jumper with ruffles and fringes and bits of ribbon hanging off it?  Want a handkerchief hem purple velvet skirt held together with gold leather laces? Go to Battle.  Trouble is, I find myself strangely drawn to such things.... 

Anyway, then we went to check on our storeroom (mostly full of the Philosopher's books) at Senlac Storage by Battle station (kept by very pleasant helpful people), then went to look at the junk mountain on offer in Burstow and Hewett's forthcoming auction sale.  I left a bid on a totally hideous Victorian wooden coat hanger in the shape of an owl....

Friday, 6 January 2012

Hunt the Hastings Garden Centre Kitty

It is a fantastic sunny day and the Philosopher is actually outside mowing the lawn - crazy for 6 January,  but I don't think the grass has stopped growing since the autumn  The scent of new-mown lawn is wafting in through the window.... 

     Talking of gardens, this picture shows the Hastings Garden Centre kitty, snoozing, very well camouflaged, in the pansies. He is always hiding somewhere different - in a trug, in a wheelbarrow, on a pile of logs, among the plants. 

We tend to drop into the Garden Centre for a coffee and a scone (fabulous scones, the best in Hastings) after an invigorating visit to the tip.  Us Brummies love that tip.  The Birmingham tip was far too urban and organised - you threw the stuff down great big chutes into huge bins and never saw it again.  In Hastings, there are lovely smelly heaps, and best of all, a metal container store where you can wrangle with grumpy geezers to get Stuff.  Many tips now have charity stores - this is a good idea, but I can't see the Hastings geezers giving up their nice little earner any time soon.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

We thought it was always sunny at the seaside....

Looking across the valley to the Country Park (we have a house in Harold Road), I see the rain sweeping past the window in great billowing gusts.  

 The 'Harold Road Surgery' sign has blown down into the road, and is smashed in fragments against the wheels of the parked cars. 

     No sign of our neighbourhood cormorant - he perches on the roof of the house opposite to preen himself and dry his wings.  I guess he catches his food in the little fishing lakes behind the surgery.  I am surprised more have not caught on to this easy source of food.

     The habits of the local seabirds are a bit mysterious to me as yet - in the summer we had gulls nesting on the chimney, then later in the year they seemed to disappear, presumably out to sea, but now a number are back again... is it because it is too rough out there, or what?  For newcomers, we have already had a lot to do with the gulls - they also nested on the chimney of our last house, a little rented place on the West Hill.  One of the babies fell out, we caught it, and the Philosopher climbed up to put it back on the roof.  Mrs Gull was furious and attacked him, scratching his head.  Later, we saw one of our neighbours tackling a similar task - carrying an open umbrella to protect his head. It must take years of practice to climb a ladder holding an open umbrella while carrying a struggling baby gull.....

     Many locals seem to dislike the gulls.  I don't warm to them as creatures - they look so angry all the time, but they are part of seaside life, and belong here, certainly more than us.  Our first ever night in Hastings was spent in the excellent Swan House guesthouse in the Old Town, but we scarcely slept because of the gulls' screeching.  Now we scarcely notice.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Daffodils on 2 January? First in the district?

Went to Rye Harbour for windy walk in the brilliant sun.  

Had coffee in the lovely Avocet Gallery.  Love their cakes, love their pictures - expecially the  Annie Soudain linocuts, love the little old dog. 
     Not so good, outside, the Ladies public toilet was shut, while the Gents was open.  Usually I can squat behind a tussock but such tussocks are hard to find at windswept Rye Harbour. Worse, today the place was like Piccadilly Circus.  I bet there were many very cross women.

Winchelsea - on the way home I took a picture of a clump of daffodils, one of a number in full bloom on a sunny bank beside the main road. 
      Daffodils?  on January 2?