Saturday, 27 July 2013

Jeffery Camp: The Way to Beachy Head, Jerwood, Hastings

Just been down to view the new exhibition at the Jerwood.  
                                                                                          It was an incredibly hot, thundery day.
Nice bodies......

   There was a storm while we were sitting in the gallery cafe - the light was extraordinary - there was some sort of festival on the Stade Open Space, and the crowd of people were illuminated like figures from a Breughel painting. Next thing, it was pouring with rain, and the people disappeared, leaving the space to a solitary paddling seagull....
     So, what did we think of the Jeffrey Camp?
     Many of the paintings were of Beachy Head, with figures looking down from the top - a good sense of the drop, the wind etc. Others were of nudes, some lying in a downland landscape, or on the cliffs, or in one case, on a roof-top? by London Bridge. They were attractive, and we liked them. However, for my taste, too many of the paintings came over all visionary,with
Too wispy..........
wispy elongated bodies floating in the sky. Philosopher said they reminded him of the rather hectic offerings you can buy in places like Tintagel, Cornwall - New Agey air spirit stuff. I know what he means - the shops in question  usually have Goddess shrines in the back room, and sell sparkly rocks, essential oils, dream catchers and CDs of tinkly music.
      In the second exhibition room, the abstract wispiness increased until the paintings were just washes of colour, but there were some nice small pictures - one of a woman with breasts like fried eggs, with lots of other fried eggs floating about, and one of a baby's head looking like the boiled egg in an egg-cup beside it.
      All in all, the show was OK - better than some of the earlier exhibitions Battleaxe has gnashed her teeth over, but not great art to stop a body in their tracks. It was low-key pleasant to look at, and not annoying - that is something, I suppose. It is alright for us, we are members, but I am not sure how I would have felt if I had had to pay money to see the paintings.
      Unfortunately, we had just viewed some really mind-blowing and genuinely visionary and spiritual art, which did not make a helpful point of comparison when viewing the Jerwood exhibition. On Friday, we went on a long car journey to the Sandham Memorial Chapel, near Newbury, which Philosopher has wanted to visit for a long time. The walls of the chapel are covered in murals by Stanley Spencer, painted to honour the dead of the First World War. It is incredibly poignant, powerful and moving stuff. Oddly, we learned that the chapel had to be consecrated in its unpainted state, because the big Resurrection scene that Spencer wanted to produce included the resurrection of animals - indeed, it depicted many horses and mules.
       Anyway, back to the Jerwood - I was concerned to see that the gallery has actually increased its visitor entry prices, despite all the feedback they must have received about it already being too expensive. I also read a letter in yesterday's Observer saying that visitor numbers are well below target. I can't really comment on that, as I don't know where the writer got his figures from, but certainly, the gallery never seems overly busy. I have ranted on enough before about their opening times, and the repeated and prolonged closures for exhibition re-hangs, but I would also say in general terms that for any organisation, raising prices is not a good way to balance the books if customer demand is already low.

Stanley Spencer - Resurrection of the Soldiers

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Ooh Aaaargh - Hastings Pirate Day!

Phewie - what a scorcher it was. I eventually decided against a corset - thought I would pass out. 
    We hit town about 11am., dressed in aaargh best. Walked down exchanging ooh arrghs with all and sundry. As ever, all of Hastings was out, most dressed up in their finery. Pirate dogs, pirate babies, pirate grannies - all excellent.
     Philosopher has a very tasteful new hat with long Jack Sparrow dreadlocks attached - we got it from a shop in Bridgnorth, would you believe.
     Started off with swashbuckling coffee at the Land of Green Ginger - breezed in there with 'Aaaaargh, me hearties - two Americanos with a bit of cold milk, please, and a slice of your vegan parkin....' (Not that eating vegan stuff has any relevance for us, that particular cake just tastes good). Just sat down when in came Marcia and David - Marcia has just started at the Writing Group, and by an incredible coincidence, David is Herr Wagner from All Saints Street. Battleaxe encountered Buster Wagner and speculated about it in a post back in January..
     Then we went to the beach to watch the Pirate sky-divers, sat about having a not very nice sandwich at the Old Customs House caff, which always promises more than it delivers. I think hard tack would have been preferable. Then watched the procession in the Old Town. The pictures can speak for themselves. How Hastings people love to dress up!
     Last night we had an enormous thunderstorm. It was
incredibly hot - rain crashed onto the roof, thunder cracked, lightening flashed, seagulls screeched, dogs barked, curtains flapped.....we scarcely slept a wink. Came down this morning and said to our neighbour 'Blimey, what a racket'. She said she had slept all through it, and the only storm that had ever disturbed her was the Great Storm of 1987!   Later, at the bus stop, we encountered another neighbour who said she hadn't heard anything either. It feels like we have a long way to go before we become proper Hastingas.  We still have nervous, uptight city ways....

     Talking of nervous, yesterday evening I went to a Hastings Writers' Group Committee Meeting - it was at the home of one of the other members - I won't say where. We sat outside, and granted, there was a full moon and a thunderstorm brewing, but I swear it was the spookiest atmosphere I have ever felt. Positively chilling.
     Battleaxe is a sensible woman but I can sense spookiness. No way would I have ventured into the dark depths of the house or the garden by myself. Anyway, at the end of the evening the house owner told us that the place was haunted and asked if we had we felt anything.  Apparently there are benign ghosts in the house and some unpleasant evil spirit hanging about in the garage....I will not be spending the night there in a hurry..... 

   When we were house-hunting we went to see some big old place
in St Leonard's that felt very bad as well.  No way would I have considered buying it. Strange......

Sunday, 21 July 2013

More sun ... hot night at the Stables etc.

I have not written a new post for a week - the weather has been absolutely scorching boiling hot. No weather for sitting indoors. 
There will be another post about Pirate Day to come very soon, and one on Bombastic Battleaxe about Social Housing - not time for that now, I have to try on my pirate corset....
     My study faces the front of the house, it gets very sunny, and I have to keep the door shut when I am not in there to keep Digby the cat from jumping up into my precious collection of spaghetti poodles....  Our bedroom faces the sun also - we have a blackout blind but when the windows are wide open the blind flaps annoyingly and you can also hear the seagulls gather for their 5am team meeting on the flat roof right outside the window....but for all that, I love this weather.  One night, when I pulled the blind up to stop it rattling, I saw  the moon shining a beautiful silver path on the sea.....
     Have been doing sunny seaside things - we swam in the sea.  The temperature may be 30 degrees but the sea was so cold you could have heard my screams in Eastbourne.  However, I stayed in longer than Philosopher - I have a thicker layer of blubber.  Also, much sitting in pub gardens, eating ice-cream, drinking too much Pimms with neighbours etc - and endless watering the garden.
Yes, it was that blue in Bexhill....
      Our old friend Bill from Brum came down to stay this week.  We went to the De La Warr in Bexhill, and then to Herstmonceux Observatory to look at the telescopes etc - he is keen on astronomy.  The next day we went for a walk at Winchelsea Beach, followed by a really nice lunch  at the Ship.  I had a starter/light meal of scallops - excellent. Bill was pleased to find some wild boar sausages in the shop.
     In the evening we went down to the Stables to see 'Harvey'.  It is that story about a bloke who is accompanied by a six foot white rabbit only he can see. The play was, I thought, one of the best we have seen there - the chap who played the lead was really excellent, and
Garden of the Ship - looking good
all the cast seemed confident with their parts. However, not surprisingly, the theatre was absolutely boiling hot - the couple in front of us came over queer and left.
     We were laughing about a time when some other friends, John and Jan, went with us and it was so cold you could see your breath, and we all sat with our coats pulled over us and tucked under our chins like blankets.
     When Bill left on Saturday morning we set off to the Detling Antique Fair - out there on the North Downs we encountered freak low cloud weather conditions - it was freezing and rainy - and I just had bare legs and a sleeveless vest.....

Saturday, 13 July 2013

High Summer...outdoor pursuits....

Well, high summer is here and we have been out and about.

Guestling Wood
      Last Sunday was absolutely scorching, so we
thought we'd fine a nice shady wood for a picnic.
     We left the car at Guestling church and walked down into the woods. It was incredibly quiet....We did indeed find a picnic spot, in a little mossy glade. Eventually ended up having a pint in the garden of the Two Sawyers in Pett, before walking back to the car along a different path.  It was a nice little circular walk.
Deserted Winchelsea Beach

      Another day this week, we explored Winchelsea Beach.  We have been to the Ship plenty of times, but have always dismissed the area surrounding it because of all the caravan parks. Our neighbours had told us to head for the sea along the lane beside the Ship, so we did, and found ourselves in a secret world of overgrown paths, shingle banks, pools, wild flowers and odd little homes.  Some houses were all Grand Designed up with glass balconies, sedum roofs and driftwood Derek Jarman style gardens, others were still the original ?1950s wooden shacks.
     There were funny little fields with horses and sheep in, and the beach itself was virtually empty. It borders the Rye Harbour Nature reserve, where we often walk - again, one could walk for miles. We found a funny little static caravan park in the middle of all that, tucked well away from the big family parks. The vans looked old, and it was very quiet. I actually found myself asking the caretaker how much the vans cost to buy.....
     One evening we walked down to the Old Town, had a drink at the FILO and then went to half an organ concert at All Saints Church.  It seems they have something called a Father Willis organ, which is apparently a very famous make - the one in Birmingham Town Hall is by the same maker, but obviously about three times the size.  Was reflecting how little I know about organs - how they work etc.  I know the stops have lovely romantic names. How
Sunset in Clive Vale
about 'Posaunenbass Unterchormass', or 'Vox Ineffabilis', 'Bombardone', 'Clarabella' or even 'Double Ophicleide'. We walked back home up the hill - the air was wonderfully fresh and the sunset was beautiful.
On Thursday I had an indoor afternoon - a meeting of the WI book group in this house. It meant tidying up and the procurement of cakes (note 'procure', not 'produce'). This month we had read 'The Oxford Murders' by Guillermo Martinez.  Most of us did not like it - it seemed very slight and trivial to me. I do enjoy the book group.
     We also went to Great Dixter - had not been since late August last year.  Now, in mid-July, the garden looked very different. How lovely it is.  I bought an Agapanthus and a Salvia Belize from the nursery. On the way home we visited the Old Rose Nursery at Northiam.  We had not been before - as well as the roses they had some huts full of retro goodies - I got no roses, but a lucite block with fish in to add to my collection.
     Today, Saturday we finished off the week with
Great Dixter
a walk to the Coastguards Tearoom in Fairlight and back. On the way there the sea mist rolled in - it was quite chilly and visibility was poor.  However, by the time we had eaten our sandwiches, the sun was out and it was blazing hot again.  It still is.
     I spend much time watering the garden, but am very pleased with the way it is looking. Perhaps I'll do the next blog post about my garden.
     I can't imagine how I ever had time to go to work...nor how I could have stood it. I still sometimes miss the laughs, but the actual work - oh no....

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Beef, Bazaar.....all boiling

Weather now fabulous, I remember now why I wanted this house to have a big folding door opening wide to the garden....
      Another busy few days. The new Hastings Writers' Group website went 'live' on Monday morning, much to my relief.
      It was well received by members at the meeting in the evening, and then to crown it all I won the Poetry competition.  I was genuinely astonished - we have some very good poets in the group and I felt my effort 'Writers' Block' was very light and slight in comparison with some of theirs, particularly as our judge, Richard Evans, seemed to be quite an intense and literary young man.
      I was a bit turned off intense poet types by my OU tutor - you could see his nipples showing through his cheesecloth shirt..... I suppose I ought to think about publishing some stuff.... .
      Went up to London this week, to meet Philosopher's old friend Alan - he had wanted us to go with him for lunch at Simpsons-in-the-Strand, as a belated birthday treat. Philosopher was not that keen - he does not enjoy eating at such places. I was more enthusiastic - I went there with my parents for my twenty-first birthday, preceded by drinks at the Savoy, and was quite interested to see if I would remember anything. I was told that back then, women were only allowed in the upstairs dining room, but I have no memory of that. In fact, I remembered very little, apart from the beef on the carving trollies.
      The place is very dark and heavy, like the gentlemen's retreat it once was, and indeed there were a fair amount of city gents in the dining room.  The service was excellent, attentive but not intrusive. The staff were very pleasant and unsnooty.  We had roast beef of course - a truly vast plateful.  It was delicious. Only downside was the Yorkshire pudding - a bit leathery. After eating all that, plus a bit of rhubarb souffle and a third of a bottle of red wine, I expected to feel as dark and heavy as the restaurant. However, I still didn't feel as full and bloated as I would have done after a meal in a Birmingham Balti house - less grease, I guess.
Gentlemen at Simpsons....

       I've just got back from minding the bric-a-brac stall at the Women's Institute Bazaar down in the Old Town. Had an excellent range of stuff, and some yummy eatables on offer, but unfortunately this is easily the hottest day of the year so far.  If people were out at all, they were probably on the beach. We sold stuff, but not as much as the organisers would have liked. I was a bit of a family business - had four of the Philosopher's latest paintings and three of Anna's cushions to sell.

      I have not really highlighted Anna Dent Studio on here - her stuff has a retro feel, and she is developing an interesting range of products - mostly homewares.
      Here are a couple of pictures of her designs.