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…
Don't think I've ever experienced this. Get on the plane in Antalya, temperature in the high 30s, get out at Gatwick at 5.40pm - felt almost as hot. I know it isn't in the high 30s here, but the heat has a clammier, claggier quality that is just as enervating. As ever, we had a lovely time in Turkey. Cirali feels like our second home.
I have written so many blog posts about Cirali - this is our fifth visit, and our third year in the Yavuz Bungalows, kept by the lovely Derya and his folks. It suits us just fine. Right on the beach, an informal restaurant with good, home-cooked fresh food, handy for the village, quiet, comfortable, clean little houses, privacy, nature, trees..... who could want for more? Well, fortunately, plenty of people would miss night-life, ritzy shops, swimming pools etc etc so they wouldn't come to Cirali in the first place. Many would not want to the be the only English people in the place, either. Derya told us we were the first Europ…
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…
The first week back from holiday is always strange, but right now, the world is completely mad..... The Government seems to be in a state of collapse, Brexit hangs on a knife-edge. Trump, World Cup, Wimbledon.....and the scorching hot weather continues. In the middle of all this, I visited the Voice and Vote exhibition in Westminster Hall, with WI friends. The exhibition commemorates 100 years of (some) women getting the vote and their subsequent involvement in Parliament.
It was a WI Book Club trip. Mostly, our outings are linked to our reading, although some links are more than a little tenuous - how about IKEA after reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ for example. Our overall verdict on the exhibition? Good, but not that good. As you can see above, when you first enter Westminster Hall, which of course is vast, the exhibition looks small.
I think for us band of relatively well-read battle-scarred warriors, it seemed a bit slight. We felt it didn't tell us much…
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,…
Oh no dears, don't get excited - no pictures, no nudity even. Scorching hot day yesterday, up to the Country Park - coffee at the Coastguards Tearooms - good sticky lemon cake, and a sighting of a green woodpecker in the garden - then walk.
We like the Country Park but it does have some wind-pipe bursting climbs. We decided to explore and see if we could reach the beach by Fairlight Glen, despite the notices saying access was 'not advised'.
We knew it was a semi-official Naturist Beach, so it was no surprise to see quite a few folk enjoying the sun when we eventually scrambled down a very steep path and some rickety steps to the shore. The beach is a mixture of sand and stones, but it looked lovely - warm, sheltered and peaceful.Access to the sea looked a bit rocky - you'd need swimming shoes. Do naturists wear even those?
I suggested to the Philosopher that we might strip off and stay for a while. We were tempted, but we had our walking gear on, …
The Paul Feiler exhibition at the Jerwood Gallery has been running for a while, but Battleaxe has been a little busy... Then yesterday on my way back from London I met up with Philosopher at the Arts Forum, where he was attending the Private View of an exhibition by one of his Jerwood friends, artist Jennifer Baird.
So, first, to the Paul Feiler: 100 Years exhibition. There is at least one of Feiler's paintings in the Jerwood permanent collection. The one pictured above is frequently on show, and in fact can be seen in the upstairs gallery space now. As ever with abstract art I can't say why I like it but I do. Is it the colours? Given that, I was interested to see more of his work. Also, even though he was born in Germany, Feiler is known as one of the St Ives school of painters - plenty of Cornish interest for us. He had a long and prolific painting life until his death in 2013, aged 95 - here is his obituary from the Guardian.
During his long life, he developed his…
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…
Now don't get too excited. Battleaxe is not going to write anything that could lead to her being plastered across the tabloids again - have had enough trouble with that already this year. I'll stick to the facts. Whatever you may think of the situation, seeing the sale of the poor Pier to Sheik Abid Gulzar, owner of Eastbourne Pier, is a real blow to efforts to foster community involvement in Hastings by keeping the Pier as a community asset.
Battleaxe and Philosopher were both shareholders in the original Hastings Pier Charity, and contributed to the Friends of Hastings Pier (FOHP) Crowdfunder campaign to purchase the Pier, so in that sense I am biased, but it is a fact that £14 million of lottery money, investment by the community and by the local authority, has been virtually given away - lost to private hands.
The administrators allowed Gulzar to buy the Pier for £50,000, despite the fact that there was another community-led bid on the table which could have bee…
the Pier’ proclaim the few faded, dog-eared notices left around the town.Maybe, but love won’t last without
communication or any evidence of positive action. As a
newcomer to Hastings,
I can’t understand how the town is willing to put up with such a terrible,
depressing eyesore of burnt out wreckage dominating the sea-front.
To me, a
seaside resort needs a pier, and I was initially delighted with the apparent
enthusiasm and energy of the HPWRT, and with the news about the initial grant
of lottery money.We visited the Pier
shop many times, and donated goods and money to help the cause. I was
surprised to read that the Council only issued a Compulsory Purchase Order for
the Pier just before Christmas, when the Lottery money had been awarded back in
August.How did anyone expect the
Lottery money to be used if ownership had not been sorted out? Now,
however, the campaign to fundraise and save the Pier now seems to be totally
dormant. The Pier
shop has …