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…
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…
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…
As readers will know, I have made efforts to take part in poetry readings, with varying degrees of success. One of my resolutions for this year was to do better, so booked onto a one-day course in London with an outfit called Live Canon.
If you want to know what I am talking about see previous posts, eg the WI Literary Lunch and St Clement's Church and the horrors of St Leonard's Festival.
We do have Slam Dunk - a poetry slam night in Hastings - I've been to watch, but there are rather a lot of what I describe as 'ranters' and others who seem to think that the merits of a poem lie in maximum amounts of effing and blinding twattery ... I know that's a bit unfair and it's probably only me making excuses for not joining in... Live Canon has an ensemble that performs and records poetry. It publishes poetry and puts on competitions and poetry events. It is largely run by free-lancers, volunteers etc., but seems to be a really good thing. The leade…
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…
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,…
Aaah...shopping. One of Battleaxe's favourite occupations, and one of the joys of living round here, because we have so many independent shops. Clothes, shoes, junk and antiques, vintage and retro, art, bits and pieces - I love them all. Firstly, look at my Golden Rules for running successful small shops on Bombastic Battleaxe. I found it hard to rank the shops I chose to include, so I'll just start with the Old Town High Street, and then move along to St Leonard's. Not so many there, partly because I am leaving antique/junk places and galleries for a future exercise, but also, many shops come and go quickly. Could it be that they are not following the Golden Rules?
Made In Hastings - Old Town High Street
Run by, and showcases work from, a group of local artists and makers - I particularly like painter Claire Fletcher, and potter Judith Rowe. Shop is attractively laid out, interesting to browse in and always smells nice - lavender, I think. Staff are always welcoming - …
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 …
You know you want to! This is a quick post before I go away to Cornwall for a week, for our annual stay in Sennen Cove with Brummie friends.
So, where were we in the last post? Looking at the fishy display.
First question, why the fish theme?
Back in Birmingham we had a Bollywood themed loo, following our big trip to India in 2001. It had Bollywood posters, South Indian buffalo bells and neck garlands displayed on a pair of horns, a dancing Shiva, a fierce Kali on the back of the door, dangling Indian wedding decorations, flashing chilli lights - oh, it was wonderful. Sadly, we have no pictures of it. However, when we wanted to put the house on the market in 2010 the estate agent took one look and nearly passed out. Getting rid of Bollywood was top of the list of things he told us to do to make the house remotely saleable. Sadly, we listened to him.
When we came to Hastings, there was a nice empty loo crying out for adornment, and given our new environment, fish and the sea s…
One of the founders of the campaign for women's suffrage,
Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, lived most of her life in or near
Hastings, and sadly, is little known or celebrated in her home town. I'm doing a Centenary Timeline for our WI Facebook Page, posting about every year from 1915 to 2015 - 100 years of the WI. I've got to 1928 now, when every woman in the UK over 21 got the vote - it felt appropriate to write about Barbara.
She was born in 1827 in Whatlington, and was brought up at 9, Pelham Crescent in Hastings, the illegitimate daughter of an MP, Benjamin Smith.
It is possible that her illegitimacy led to Barbara's achievements being played down, both during her life, and after her death. However, she was one of the earliest and most significant campaigners for women's rights, initially concentrating on the legal position of married women. The work she undertook, with a small group of like-minded women, was the first organised feminist action in the …