Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Battleaxe loves Hastings Pirate Day - and Red Arrows

Glorious flawless sunny Sunday - and the famous Hastings Pirate Day!
     The Philosopher and I were relatively restrained in our pirate garb - too sensible really, but at least we didn't boil and get burned to crisps.  It felt like all the town had dressed up, and there was a real carnival feel about the place.  It seemed very inclusive - there were Pirate babies, Pirate grannies, Pirate (sea) dogs.

  We oohed and arrghed around for a bit, then crammed onto the beach with all the other pirates for our official world record breaking attempt for numbers of pirates gathered in one place.  It was hot.... very hot, but fortunately we didn't have to stay out there for too long.  Organisers had done a good job, even allowing there were thousands more than they had presumably bargained for.  It turned out we had absolutely smashed Penzance's previous world record, with our14,200 pirates counted.
Hastings Pirate Day - aiming for the record 2012
     I asked the Philosopher... who was a pirate's favourite philosopher?  Arrrrghistotle, of course.  I do find my own jokes the funniest.....
     By the time the Red Arrows came, we had gone home - thought it wouldn't be much, they'd just fly over once and that would be it. As it happened, from our place up the valley, we had a fantastic grand-stand view from our own door-step, and better still, they flew up our valley several times to re-group themselves before swooping down to the sea again.  I don't know who shrieked louder, us or the startled sea-gulls, as red planes roared up past the house so close we could wave to the pilots. It was a fantastic show and very scary.
Red Arrows at Hastings Pirate Day 2012

     All in all, a great day to make up for months of lousy wet weather.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Olympic torch in Hastings

So, down to town we went to have the 'Olympic torch experience'.  The place was heaving. 

We fought our way through the crowds as far as the White Rock Hotel, where we managed to find both a restorative gin and tonic and a seat.  Crowds were lighter there, and we found ourselves a prime viewing slot on the concrete parapet beside the road.  First along were far too many police motorcyclists, who parped their sirens excitingly at the French students sitting on the pavement opposite us.  Then came a procession of corporate lorries from Samsung, Coca-cola and Lloyds, all pounding disco music and screaming perma-tanned young people, trying to whip up false enthusiasm.  Then a few official buses and cars. Then, eventually, the torch bearer, lost in the middle of what I presumed were security staff, his torch flickering feebly in the wind.  That was it.  All respect to the torch bearer we saw - a brave guy who had got horribly wounded in Afghanistan.
Olympic Torch in Hastings
  
As a total spectacle, it was pretty tawdry - just an excuse for the corporate sponsors to get themselves in our faces.

At least it was not raining.....

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Battleaxe visits coach at De La Warr, Bexhill

Last blog I talked about the Boat and mentioned the wobbling coach - well, I thought we ought to go to Bexhill and see it.  Went to the De La Warr Pavilion for coffee and there it was, wavering about over the edge of the building.  It is called 'Hang on a Minute Lads I've got a great idea', after the last line in the Italian Job.  By someone called Richard Wilson (thought he was a grumpy old sitcom actor). 

Coach at the De La Warr

It looks quite good, especially looking up from the car park, and they have got it to wobble quite convincingly.  I took a video of it on my iphone but it didn't come out that well - hard to tell if was the coach wobbling or the phone wobbling in the wind.  But as I said before about the Boat, I just don't know what referencing the Italian Job with some ruddy great bus on a building has to do with the Olympics.  Neither do I even think it is Art.  Entertainment, certainly, but not Art.

The Philosopher says I am wasting my time thinking about What Is Art - it is a meaningless argument that has lost all sense or relevance.  I guess he is right, but it feels like at some point enough people have to stand up and expose the Emperor's New Clothes and say these installation things may be fun, they may be interesting, they may even be shocking, but they are Not Art.

Anyway, less of that.  After coffee we were lucky to find a nice old cheval mirror in a junk shop.  I had already bought one on Ebay for new bedroom in new house, but it made me look fat.  After a few weeks of seeing this podgy lump every morning I couldn't stand it.  Thank goodness, and surprisingly, the Philosopher agreed - I thought Fat Mirrors were a woman thing.  The new mirror is much more flattering.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Hastings Battleaxe visits 'Collective Spirit' Boat.... Jerwood is free!

Very busy weekend in Hastings - Saturday, the town was heaving.  We went to look at the famous Collective Spirit Boat which was 'moored' on the Stade open space - bit of a swizz that it had arrived by road instead of sailing here - apparently the weather was too bad.  I don't quite understand what this Cultural Olympics is supposed to be about - someone has also just balanced a tilting coach on the edge of the De La Warr Pavilion as in the Italian Job....  what has any of this got to do with fostering national sporting effort?

I thought the Olympics were supposed to leave a legacy of improved sporting facilities and increased take-up of activities?  I guess what we have instead is a few more playing fields sold off for development.  Don't get the wrong idea, Battleaxe is not a sporty type - I'd rather look at a boat or a wobbling coach than run round a track or puff and pant in the gym any day, but one has to worry about fat kids I guess.

Anyway, the boat was pretty. I liked the guitars and hockey sticks, and the Philosopher was keen on the spirit level.  There was a bit from Hastings, too - see below.

Yippee - the Jerwood was free!  They, thank goodness, are just changing that Rose Wylie exhibition, so had opened up the rest of it.  We went in and had a cup of coffee, but didn't much look at the pictures again.  I think we were spoilt in Birmingham having the beautiful City Art Gallery, full of the most tremendous stuff, including the collection of Pre-Raphaelites, available to us for free.  In that gallery were favourites that I enjoyed visiting time and time again.  The Jerwood just doesn't have enough in it - fill up those empty spaces of wall with a few more pictures, I say.  It is not just me either - later in the day a party of Brum friends came over from Tenterden, where they were staying, and visited the Jerwood before coming to our new house.  They also felt the content was thin and were relieved they did not have to pay, although they liked the architecture.  I think we almost have more pictures hanging in our house!

Our friends also grumbled about the horrendous traffic jams in the Old Town.  I expect loads of people were arriving because of the beer/music festival.


Monday, 2 July 2012

Winchelsea...how the other one percent live

Glorious sunny day on Saturday, we went to Winchelsea to view the Open Gardens.  Goodness me, they were lovely.... real English dense borders piled against old walls, heavy with roses - trickling water, sweeping green lawns, lolling labradors, lily ponds, sweet peas, sparkling swimming pools - the owners of those places really have it all.



 They sat nervously outside their Farrow and Ball painted back doors - no need. The visitors were mostly well-to-do linen-trousered ladies and gentlemen in panama hats, marvelling at the delphiniums.  We love gardens - can't wait to get stuck into the garden at the new house - no time yet.  It was interesting to see how gardens that had obviously been put together by professional garden designers could somehow not quite work, while other apparently random gardens were actually beautifully composed.  Quite a few gardeners employed there, we felt....  We had tea and cake sitting out in the back courtyard of the posh shop and coffee place.  Very nice.


Our house is coming on well - such hard work, but we are so pleased with it.  We can sit in our glassed-in verandah watching the ships pass - it feels so light and airy compared with our familiar Victorian houses.  Talking of which, we have had to get rid of so much stuff - today we went to Burstow and Hewitt in Battle with at least 20 pictures, my two well-loved Victorian clocks that stood on the mantlepieces in Birmingham for 25 years, together with two bronze winged dragon ladies.  They just won't go in a 70s house! Great sacrifices were made by both of us - we had to go to Jempsons for restorative buns and doughnuts.  Yet more sacrifices will have to be made shortly - we have a garage full of Victorian and Art Deco stuff, and yet more pictures stacked along the landing.

The Battleaxe will be more regular with the blog now again - our Sky broadband and phone were eventually connected last week.  We have had to buy one of those Vodafone signal booster things to get mobile reception in the house - it works well, thank goodness.  The communications revolution has passed by this bit of Hastings, no mobile phone and no 3G.  Not even 2G!