A Sunny Hastings day...West Hill, old military vehicles, dead Maggie Thatcher...

Sunshine....well there was, honestly - it was there on Sunday. Maggie Thatcher died yesterday - media in a frenzy of overblown adulation, Facebook in a frenzy of overblown loathing. Personally I can't get worked up about the death of a senile old woman - I quite fancy her Extra Care package at the Ritz, though.
     Back to Sunday - out we went, and walked across to the West Hill. We have found a lazy route which means not having to drop right down off our hill and have gut-busting climb all the way up again.  We meander through the streets of Clive Vale, cross the Old London Road where it joins Priory Road, and then cut down North Terrace, Halton, Bembrook Road, across the top of the open space. Views are fantastic.
      It is always a surprise to me to read that statistically, the Broomgrove and Farley Bank/Halton estates are in the most deprived 1% in the country. Coming from Birmingham, where there were some real shockers, and of course, having worked on Castle Vale, the Hastings estates don't look too bad at all. No mattresses, not much graffiti or litter, no prowling youth. Maybe it is because the estates here are so much smaller - they blend into their surroundings. Run-down big city estates are worlds on their own, and the likes of us would not be strolling through them on a sunny Sunday morning while admiring the scenery.
At the Blue Dolphin....
     Most of the homes here have stunning open views. Yes, yes,  I know that reflects of the fact that these places were built in the inaccessible windy outskirts etc. and you can't eat views, but if I was poor, I would still rather sit on my balcony looking at the sparkly sea than at a big city concrete wasteland.
    When we reached the West Hill we actually managed to sit outside on the cafe terrace for coffee, although my backside was practically frozen to the cold metal of the chair.
     Then down to town - things finally seem to be waking up for spring.  The pubs and cafes had put their tables outside, the seaside tat shops were open, the Amusement Park had come to life.
      I felt bad passing the Lilac Room - their lovely spring and summer clothes have been on display for weeks and nobody can be buying them - even though the sun was out it still did not feel the time to strip off and try things on. Gave Kate a guilty wave and scuttled past.
     We ate fish and chips at our favourite chippie - the Blue Dolphin on the corner of the Old Town High Street.


Hauling up the lifeboat
      The lifeboat was out - they had had a practice launch. I spoke to the geezers because I saw that the tractor was laboriously and slowly dragging the boat up the beach on rollers, while its caterpillar treaded trolley sat idle.  The men told me they have always done it like that. The boat is sent down to the sea and launched on its trolley, but apparently the tractor is not powerful enough to pull boat and trolley up the beach together. . The men said it takes over 30 minutes to drag the boat up the beach, during which time they couldn't launch it again - not the time to be drowning, methinks. Get a bigger tractor, says Battleaxe
                 On the Stade Open Space one of the frequent (or so it seems) parades of old military vehicles had assembled. The people who drive and care for them dress up in the appropriate costumes - it is clearly a serious business, although these guys are clearly enjoying themselves.

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