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Showing posts from February, 2015

Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, Hastings and Brightling

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One of the founders of the campaign for women's suffrage, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, lived most of her life in or near Hastings, and sadly, is little known or celebrated in her home town. I'm doing a Centenary Timeline for our WI Facebook Page, posting about every year from 1915 to 2015 - 100 years of the WI. I've got to 1928 now, when every woman in the UK over 21 got the vote - it felt appropriate to write about Barbara.
    She was born in 1827 in Whatlington, and was brought up at 9, Pelham Crescent in Hastings, the illegitimate daughter of an MP, Benjamin Smith.
    It is possible that her illegitimacy led to Barbara's achievements being played down, both during her life, and after her death. However, she was one of the earliest and most significant campaigners for women's rights, initially concentrating on the legal position of married women. The work she undertook, with a small group of like-minded women, was the first organised feminist action in the …

Bodiam Castle to Beachy Head. Granny Battleaxe on parade!

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Busy Busy. Last weekend I couldn't help with the WI Cardi Gras event (part of Fat Tuesday) because we went to a neighbour's wedding. Wedding was at the Durbar Hall in the Museum - what a lovely place for it. Cardi Gras went well too - they raised plenty of money. 
   On Monday we took grand daughter Eve to Bodiam Castle. Philosopher and I had never been properly. We visited briefly back in 2008 when we made our first exploratory visit to Hastings. We stayed in the lovely Swan House in the Old Town, and I remember we got thoroughly lost trying to find Bodiam, goodness knows how, driving up and down what seemed endless narrow tunnel-like lanes with trees arching over from high banks. We were surprised that the countryside inland from Hastings was so pretty, wooded and undeveloped.
    I think we had fallen into the way of thinking shared by many of our Brummie friends, that the South-East is covered in new-build estates of executive homes interspersed with shiny hi-tech busines…

The Ladykillers at the Stables - and a striking textile exhibition

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A quick update.  Went to the Stables last night to see The Ladykillers - it was excellent, one of the best Stables plays I have seen. Unfortunately it ends on 14 February, but there is also an excellent textile exhibition at the theatre gallery which continues until the end of March.
     It was a full house. My WI gang had been the night before. I had not joined them because firstly it was my Stanza poetry group that night, and secondly Philosopher had already bought our tickets.


     What struck me most was the set design and the staging. Clever lighting, sound effects and projections set the period (mid-fifties) and brought essential railway goings-on to life, especially when the Professor was run over by a train! The stage design was an ambitious (for the Stables) two level set up, showing the ground floor of the old house but also the bedroom.
      The acting was also excellent, particularly Rob Hustwayte as the Professor. Mrs Wilberforce could perhaps have hammed it up a bit…

Chantal Joffe at the Jerwood. Get that poor man some ointment!

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Oh, that lovely week in Madeira seems ages ago already. It was a shock landing at Gatwick into grey, sleety gloom, but fortunately the weather has now improved - almost springlike.
     On Sunday we called at the Jerwood to view the latest exhibition, 'Beside the Seaside'. According to the blurb on the gallery wall, Chantal Joffe is known for her powerful pictures of women. Well, the paintings were certainly large... but does large mean powerful? Apparently, these pictures are of people in Hastings.
     The first thing that hits you between the eyes when you enter the first gallery isn't a woman at all, but an enormous canvas of a naked bloke (her husband, I gather). Next thing, your eyes are drawn straight to his testicles, which are alarmingly bright red. Poor chap, what on earth is the matter with him? I hope Chantal ran down the chemist and got him some soothing ointment as soon as she had finished the painting.  Of course, you are not allowed to take photos in the ga…

Madeira - just as good as last time!

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Hard to believe we last came three years ago. 
     Funchal is an attractive, relaxed city, easy to feel at home in, and we have been lucky with the weather - dry, lots of sun.      We are at a different hotel this time, a complete contrast from the lovely old Quintinha Sao Joao where we stayed before.  This one, The Vine, is modern boutique-style, on the upper floors of an up-market shopping mall right in the centre of Funchal. Sounds strange but in fact it is quiet and very convenient for shops, restaurants, bus stops etc.      It has lots of positives, the breakfasts are excellent - limitless fresh orange juice, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and other healthy stuff, complete fry-up range, smoked salmon, cake etc. They do a mean dry martini in the bar, there is a roof-top infinity pool and so on. 
      However, like our hotel in Turkey in the summer, this place has tricks up its sleeve for the unwary guest. It has won many awards and appears in glossy design books, but clearly, internat…

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