Building a new life in this quirky, historic and diverse corner of East Sussex.
Battleaxe raves, rants - and recommends.
From Funchal to Hastings.....Madeira holiday
Mosaic paving in Funchal
Just returned from a fantastic week in Madeira. Funchal is not unlike Hastings - perched on hills dropping down to the sea - and in fact the view of Hastings Old Town from the West Hill is better than Madeira... No litter, and no dog poo in Funchal! Here is an idea for Hastings, to liven up that Stade open space I was moaning about a couple of weeks ago. In Funchal all the pavements and open spaces are paved with mosaic-like black and white chippings - the white is marble I presume. There is a variety of striking patterns and pictures - see photo. A design like this would look really good in Hastings - you could even make a picture of the Net Huts in black on white.
Madeira is very beautiful - fabulous gardens. Here are some flowers:
Well, you have to go once, don't you? We've never been to the Chelsea Flower Show, and thought we'd give it a try. Who knows, we may have become avid Chelsea addicts. We enjoyed our day, but fortunately for our bank balance, one visit is enough.
Weather-wise, we had the best day of the Chelsea week - warm, sunny but not too hot.
As usual, we'd been watching Chelsea on the telly - we do so every year. I'd been dreading the crowds. It always looks a seething mass of humanity on TV. Battleaxe doesn't do long queues or not being able to see things - but it was not too bad at all. You could move round fairly easily and get to see even the most popular show gardens. However, there was no time to stand and stare - no matter what the telly presenters say about being able to 'lose yourself in the tranquillity' of such and such, believe me, that was never going to happen.
We started off with a cup of coffee and a faintly stale Chelsea bun, and th…
The trouble with writing a blog that covers current topical issues is that it gets out of date so quickly.... The General Election was only a fortnight ago, but seems an age. Since then we've had the truly terrible Grenfell Tower fire, an attack at Finsbury Park Mosque by a white terrorist, and the start of the Brexit talks. It was a relief to fly out of the UK and arrive in Cirali, Turkey. See previous posts!
Firstly, people say 'aren't you nervous, going to Turkey?' Nervous of what, pray? We are substantially safer here than we would be in the UK. Turkey is a vast country, and the coastal areas are very different from Istanbul and Ankara. Cirali is a quiet, sleepy village, 7km down a steep, narrow winding road from the main highway to Antalya, approx 1.5 hours drive away..... Our plane was absolutely heaving with cut-price Brits going for cut-price packages in the resorts around Antalya. Think bulkhead-to-bulkhead screaming kids for four hours.... Here, it is…
Battleaxe visits many garden centres and nurseries at this time of year - we have some very nice local places - these are some of my favourites.
We have had to find lots of plants for our new garden, especially at the front, where the previous owners had ripped up most of the vegetation (except for the array of eye-popping Barbie pink azaleas mentioned earlier) and replaced it all with, would you believe, terraces of pink tinged granite chippings, with the odd clump of, ooh, you've guessed it - pink heather. 'Looks like a pink graveyard' sniffed one of our neighbours. Anyway, the chippings are gradually disappearing under greenery. 'Are you entering for Ore in Bloom?' asked the same neighbour recently.
I have had some plants from kind friends, but inevitably, garden centres are visited.
Battleaxe says beware of buying plants from car boot sales. I got some fuschias from the Icklesham sale last year and they all had some horrible disease that would have infec…
The government is in chaos, country is on its knees, but what is Battleaxe going to write about? There has been so much going on, including the South of England Show in Ardingly last week, and on Sunday, I joined our WI team for the Race for Life in Alexandra Park.
The Ardingly Show is a big thing for the WI - a very traditional tea and cakes marquee combined with a craft/cake competitive show. The tent is always packed - the women who run it work amazingly hard.
As usual, our gang entered lots of classes. However, this meant that friend Jan and I had to firstly, go over there last Tuesday to set out our entries - leaving at 6.45am, then we had a coach trip on Thursday (Election Day), and finally the two of us went over on Saturday to pick all the stuff up.
However, we won two first prizes, and two Highly Commended - one of which was for a story I did about the ghost of Emily Davison visiting some young person who wasn't planning to vote.... very topical.
I see that Marks and Spencer has, yet again, posted poor results for the last quarter of 2014, particularly with clothing sales, blaming unsuitably mild weather, logistics problems and discounting by other retailers. This is now their fourteenth quarter in decline.
A Guardian review of comments by retail analysts speculates about every possible reason for the chain's failure except for the blindingly obvious. M & S women's clothes are REVOLTING. No-one with half a brain would want to pay money for most of the stuff.
There, what's so hard about saying that.
Why should Battleaxe care? I no longer shop there. But I used to, I'd like to again, commentators are already speculating about store closures, and locally, the survival of the Hastings Priory Meadow store is crucial for our retail economy.
As well as Priory Meadow, we have a big new store on the Ravenside retail park, which has the sea-view cafe referred to in previous posts. I have photogr…
St Leonard's is a browser's mecca - everything from very upmarket arty galleries to basic junk.
We often take the route described below - it takes about half a day to do it thoroughly. There are many other interesting shops along the way, and many charity shops, which I have not covered individually. This post only covers St Leonard's - I will do another on the Old Town shortly. Opening times for some of these places are erratic, but you are usually safe on a Saturday.
The walk actually starts in Hastings, because I didn't want to leave out the places on the seafront - and it is nice to have a walk by the sea on a sunny day.
Start at the end of Robertson Street, and walk along the front past the British Heart Foundation furniture shop. You sometimes see nice bits of mid-century G plan type stuff in here.
First, the Arthur Green's Antique Centre. Fans of Victorian shop architecture should visit this place just to look at it - it is a beautiful,…
Back from our week in Sennen Cove, Cornwall, with friends from Birmingham Sue and Alex, Anne, Sue and Graham. We go every year, walk, natter, drink and eat far too many enormous meals.
The drive from Hastings is long - 346 miles, but interesting, down the M3/A303/A30, past Stonehenge, over the Blackdown Hills, down the Otter Valley - it feels like going on an old-fashioned holiday. The A30 carries on right to Lands End, by which time it has shrunk to a single track lane running between high stone banks, with yellow gorse and daffodils, and camelias in bloom outside the cottages. Spring is late everywhere this year, but it was better down there. It was cold, though - very cold...
We had a fabulous sea view from our windows - when the tide was up, huge rollers roared and crashed onto the rocks only a few yards away, just across the little seafront road. Sennen Cove is a big surfing beach, but even the surfers were put off by the cold this year.
The weather looks very thr…
Ore Village is our nearest local shopping area. It's tucked away over the top of the hill and down again from genteel Clive Vale, where we live. Writing on the history of Ore, the Hastings Chronicle says 'For the better-off people of Hastings, the Ore Valley has often been out of sight and out of mind.' Well, it's never far from our minds.
Last year at the WI we had a very good talk on the history of Ore from local historian Brian Lawes, husband of my friend and Committee colleague Shirley, so I can draw on material from that.
Why is Ore called Ore? Probably because the area was a source of iron ore, and traces of Roman 'bloomeries' or smelting furnaces have been found. The name 'Red Lake' survives in the village, referring to a former mill-pond or a pool produced by later iron-workings, coloured red with dissolved iron oxide.
Ore has always been a poor area. It housed the labourers who built the grand hotels and homes in the town during …
Ken Clarke's recent description of Theresa May as a 'bloody difficult woman' increased her popularity ratings. Our new woman Prime Minister joins the increasing numbers of women leaders, plus we also have a female Home Secretary and a female Lord Chancellor. So, it's time to think about Battleaxes. What is a Battleaxe? Where does the term come from? Can we describe these women leaders as Battleaxes?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines 'Battleaxe' as a 'formidably aggressive older woman', and gives these synonyms: harridan, dragon, crone, witch, hag, hatchet-face, ogress, gorgon, old bag, hellcat, harpy, virago, bitch, shrew, scold. Not pleasant.
Many of the above words are commonly used to describe powerful women, or women who stick their heads above the parapet. I don't want this post to be an anti-men diatribe, but I can't avoid mentioning the dislike of female power that some men exhibit, and the particularly disagreeable combinat…
I love a good cup of coffee and a nice piece of cake. Philosopher and I indulge most days.
Back in November 2012, I wrote 'The Good Scone Guide to Hastings' for the Hastings Writers' Group Travel Writing competition. It won third prize but is now a bit out of date, and although scones are wonderful, a Battleaxe also wants cake.
I am concentrating on coffee/teashops, not cafes where cooked food takes prominence, and I know I will have missed some gems. For this post I am only focusing on Hastings town centre and the Old Town.
I need decent coffee and tea, nice cakes, pleasant service in a relaxing, comfortable environment, and good loos. Newspapers, preferably tabloids which we don't read at home, and outside tables for warm days are also desirable.
Let's start with the town centre.
The first thing that strikes me is how coffee drinking has taken root in this area. There are three coffee places on the three corners of the main junction - Caf…