It started out a bit pear-shaped. The main road was blocked both ways out by Brookland, and the journey took us a stressful one hour forty-five minutes instead of the pleasant journey along the coast road we had planned for - it was a gorgeously sunny, warm day.
However, we eventually got to Folkestone, and parked down by the harbour. It was all looking very bright....
|Sunny Folkestone - Grand Burstin Hotel in the background|
Folkestone is a strange mixture of a place. We've been several times.
The Leas, up on the top of the cliffs, is a reminder of the town's great days as a destination for the upper classes. One time we had a coffee in the Grand Hotel - talk about a total package of faded grandeur. I fully intend to stay there, but you can only book suites, not rooms per night. I love to imagine the local people, noses pressed to the glass of the 'Monkey House' Palm Court, watching King Edward VII in his 'monkey-suit', engaging in 'monkey business' with Mrs Keppel.
|The Grand Hotel, Folkestone|
The old harbour area has been regenerated, as has the nearby 'Creative Quarter' - a few little streets with various arty crafty shops, eateries and galleries. It is a good barometer of the true state of the economy to observe the changing tenancies of these places, and the numbers of empty premises. As of Friday, I would read slight, and very precarious, recovery.....
Much of the rest of the town, including the derelict docks area at sea-level, is grim. Levels of deprivation must be high.
Talking of grim, Sue and Graham had just spent the night in the huge Grand Burstin Hotel by the harbour. It must have been busy when the ferry port operated, and is an impressive building - a 60s version of the Marine Court ocean-liner style. Oh boy, is it shabby now, and not in a good way. The public areas were like a working men's club, smelling of grease and loo-cleaner, and I couldn't believe this notice for hand-sanitizer outside the dining-room. It clearly caters for low-rent coach parties and probably asylum seekers.
|Whatever kind of hotel is that?|
Anyway, we had a look at a few bits of art. One new building I liked, the Quarterhouse arts centre. It had a quotation from Yoko Ono on a mirror in the bar upstairs.
|The Quarterhouse - with arty thing on top|
I quite liked a fish and chip shop, where there were tanks of fish, whose droppings created fertiliser to grow hydroponic potatoes, and even pea plants for the mushy peas. Fish creating their own chips....
|Perfect view from Rocksalt|
So, back in Hastings, the next day we went down to the Jerwood to view the new exhibition, those naughty, naughty Hastings bad boys the Chapman Brothers' 'In the realms of the unmentionable'.
The first thing that struck me was that it actually wasn't very naughty or nasty at all. I expected it to be much ruder. Are those naughty boys losing their touch? Is Battleaxe's shockability old and jaded? In the first room there were huge glass cases, 'The Sum of all Evil' containing thousands and thousands of little figures doing grisly things, some of whom were Nazi soldiers, some skeletons with Nazi helmets, lots of pink bodies, Ronald McDonalds etc. I always like looking at little model things, and it was quite fun, a cross between a model village and Hieronymus Bosch brought to life, but Nazis seemed a bit old hat to me.
|'The Sum of all Evil'|
Then there was a big bronze with maggoty skulls, a wall of Goya-type engravings with naughty stuff superimposed on top, some old portraits with scabby rashes added to the faces, a 'children's room' with a lowered ceiling and a painting signed 'A Hitler', and some anatomical-looking bronze/ceramic things together with a couple of mannequins with no eyes.
The exhibition has had rave reviews. As so often with these things, I felt the naughtiness was just about getting a rise out of us viewers, rather than making any serious point. Perhaps it isn't supposed to be serious. I don't know, and frankly, I don't particularly care.
They could do maggoty much more nastily - how about some real maggots feeding on something nasty? Trouble is, they'd hatch into flies......