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…
At the moment, I can't drag my thoughts much beyond the WI - it was our Annual Meeting on Tuesday, and on Saturday it is our Winter Bazaar. I've written about our Bazaars before - I hope this year's effort is as positive and life-affirming as our previous ones. After the Annual Meeting, yet again I am President for another year....
As President, I find this time of year very stressful. Fortunately, we have an efficient Secretary (Hello Angela!) and an equally efficient Treasurer (Hello Jan!), and the rest of the Committee also get stuck in and work their socks off, which is a great relief. Even so, I do inevitably feel the weight of responsibility, and it also feels a bit lonely and thankless sometimes. But hey, I am Battleaxe. It's what I do.... and between you me and the internet, I always enjoy Being In Charge.... When I was young, nobody would have thought for a single second that I could do this sort of thing....
For the Annual Meeting, there are s…
What, you may say, a whole post about an outing to IKEA in Croydon? What a dull life that woman must lead... Well, for us Hastingas, where the most happening interiors stores are the over-priced vanity projects in the Old Town, or Dunelm Mill, IKEA is pretty darn exciting. We had an excellent time!
Croydon is our nearest store, and it still took over 1.5 hours to get there. Why IKEA? A while ago our WI Reading Group read 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' (which I had read before and hated) so we decided to have a Swedish-themed outing. Meatballs were compulsory. So cheap, too £3.95 for 10 meatballs, chips and lingonberry jam. Funny, I remember the meatballs being served with mashed potatoes.... Then we had apple cake as well, but you needed it for the walk to follow.
The Croydon cafe is absolutely huge - interestingly, we noticed a few people who looked like Social Services homeless cases, lying on the sofas and getting endless free refills of hot drinks - I guess i…
Some time ago I did a post about antique/junk hunting in St Leonard's, which continues to be very popular. Have been meaning to do the same for our other browser's paradise, Hastings Old Town, for ages. It's a big job, and this is a long post. Battleaxe and Philosopher spend many happy hours rummaging, and we know many of the shops well. I've tried to avoid leaving any out, but as we will see below, it's all a bit 'evolving'.
I think the profile of the shops is changing - from reasonably priced piles of assorted stuff - to high-end shops with much less in them. Think a tastefully 'curated' (and I use that word advisedly) display of expensive items - often featuring mid-century modern chairs, old industrial steel cabinets, enamel signs and skeletons. I guess this reflects the on-going transformation of Hastings into a desirable destination for incomers, but it's a shame for old rummagers like us.
Let's start at the end of George Stree…
I think this is the longest time ever without a Battleaxe post. I've been busy and had some flu bug over the weekend. It is getting better now thank goodness. Last week we went all the way to Portslade to fetch a vintage filing cabinet. Don't ask. Then had a nice stop-off in Lewes. Weather has been strange - last week's yellow sky and red sun following Ophelia thing, then storm Brian....
Oh alright, the filing cabinet. You may as well ask. Have been busying myself on Ebay and various Facebook selling pages and groups because we have had to buy a high seat, high back chair for Philosopher when he comes home after his hip replacement op. (It is actually happening tomorrow - in the Spire Hospital - via the NHS. He seems quite calm about it so far... more news later).
Anyway, I had to get rid of one of our Ercol armchairs, so being me, got rid of an art deco standard lamp, a coffee table, two Chinese floor vases and another Ercol armchair for a neighbour at the same …
Battleaxe never likes trying on clothes in winter, when she is muffled up like a Babushka in thick jumpers, wooly tights, big boots, quilted coat, hat and scarf, but sometimes it Has To be Done.
Tunbridge Wells is our nearest high-end shopping destination. It is easy to go from Hastings by train, but lazily, we take the car and park in the Great Hall just behind the BBC. They used to have talking parking ticket machines which told you to safeguard your valuables in cod celebrity voices but sadly, those have been replaced by those complicated ones where you have to key in your car registration number. Useless for Battleaxe, who never remembers it.
Our usual route takes us up the hill for coffee at Ismail, which is on the ground floor of the Cotswold Outdoor shop. There is a good smell of freshly roasting coffee inside, excellent outside people-watching in summer, and they have a huge variety of interesting coffees and teas on offer, as well as hot chocolate. I noticed somethi…
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…
They all blur into one - Rathauses, Hauptbahnhofs, Doms, Schlosses, Grosmarkts... We are just back from Germany, starting in Hamburg, then on to Hannover, with visits to Braunschweig and Hildesheim. Walked miles, had traumatic encounter with aggressive street person, equally traumatic encounter with German sat-nav Frau..
Our Ibis hotel in Hamburg had the advantage of being close to the Hauptbahnhof. Too close. The railway lines were about 50 metres from our window, which you couldn't open because of the train noise. The air-con wasn't working. Why choose this place, one asks, and having chosen it, why not change rooms, hotels even? Well, we had managed to arrive at the start of the German Whit weekend - or Pfingsten as they call it. The city was packed, and hotel prices were way above the usual - hence the low-rent Ibis. Not much sleep for the three nights we were there.
However, Hamburg is a really attractive, interesting place - Battleaxe would totally recommend …
The Coastal Currents Arts Festival is underway, and Bottle Alley has been transformed into an art installation. I thought I'd take a break from cleaning the kitchen (yes, really, a rare occurence in Battleaxeland) and go and have a look.
Non-Hastingas may ask, what is Bottle Alley? Well, if like us, you'd lived far too long with crumbling sixties Birmingham concrete, you'd expect a very dodgy pee-smelling subway inhabited by cider-bottle-flinging street drinkers.
To be honest, Bottle Alley is not that different. It's a very long covered walkway that runs along the seafront from the Pier up towards St Leonard's, below the raised promenade. It is so long, that looking along it from the end, the perspective almost reaches a vanishing point. It got its name from the inner walls, which are covered in a mosaic of broken glass bottles embedded into the concrete. It is actually a splendid piece of modernist/deco architecture.
Just back from the far, far north. Saw many things, including Europe's most northerly shoe shop, but not the Northern Lights. We were not too disappointed, because the trip was so interesting.
We flew to Tromso, which is already way above the Arctic Circle, to board the Hurtigruten MS Richard With (or, as the boat tannoy lady called it: 'CostalStrimmerReyaaaVeet'). The Hurtigruten boats chug up and down the coast of Norway, calling at the little ports up the fjords, carrying passengers and delivering essential supplies. The boats are like large cross-channel ferries, with cars and cargo on the bottom, cabins in the middle, and bars, lounges etc on the top. Our boat was very clean and well-kept. Shipshape, I guess. The decor was a bit alarmingly 80s retro though.
We got an excellent cabin in the upper middle of the boat, where there is less noise and movement, and on the promenade deck, where you have a window instead of a port hole. It was snug, with two bun…