Thursday, 29 October 2015

'Saul' at Glyndebourne - an utterly mesmerising experience

Earlier in the week, we went to Glyndebourne, to see Handel's Saul with our old friends Bob and Alison.
    You may think that I had been called in to stand in for one of the soloists, following my debut performance on the stage at our back-stage tour a year ago, but actually no. I guess a rendition of  'My Old Man Said Follow the Van' didn't give a sufficient indication of my operatic potential.
     Neither Philosopher or I had ever been to a performance at Glyndebourne - somehow, our anti-ponciness mechanisms had always kicked in and prevented us actually getting there, despite our love for music, opera etc.
     However, our friends booked us tickets, and off we went.  This was the 'Tour' production of Saul, starting at 4pm. We arrived earlier than we expected, just after 3pm, but even so the place was full. Hampers were open, table cloths were spread, wine glasses were out, chicken legs were nibbled. And this was only the Tour, not the Festival. Usual mass of grey-haired middle-class persons. Lots of velvet coats and pashminas. However, we managed to bag a table for our more modest interval snacks.
     Philosopher and I had listened to a CD of Saul in advance.  Both of us were, at best, luke-warm. It seemed a very long sub-Messiah epic with endless repetitive recitatives/arias/choruses, and an incredibly convoluted plot. We expected a few hours of at best, mild entertainment with prolonged stretches where one would either doze or escape into one's own thoughts. I'd read the rave reviews, but still felt it would be an Emperor's New Clothes job.....

    Our expectations were totally confounded.
    It was one of the best things I have ever seen.
    I was absolutely riveted from beginning to end, from the moment when the curtain went up to reveal a  bloodstained, muscular David, stripped to the waist, clutching the severed head of Goliath. David is a counter-tenor part, and I did pause to wonder if it is easy to recruit top-flight counter tenors with ripped six-packs....
    It is hard to conceive of the imagination and creativity that generated such a dynamic, exciting production from such apparently dry old material - a concert oratorio not written to be staged.
    We were alternately intrigued, amused, thrilled, scared, moved almost to tears, frightened and shocked. The action on stage explored love between men and women, love between men and men, father-child relationships, the collapse and defeat of regimes and nations.
    Above all though, the tragic figure of Saul himself, brought down and tipped into madness by his fatal flaw, envy. Saul was magnificent, another King Lear, raving, then abandoned and alone, in a bleak grey wasteland. Eventually, he resorts to communing with the darkest underworld - the horribly grotesque Witch of Endor, who appeared as a skinny old man with enormous saggy breasts (no, they were false).




     Another strand was the cycle of life - the production started in high summer colour, feasting, rejoicing, the old king in charge, and the gauche, traumatised young future king on the fringes of the action. The cycle turned to grey and then black, as the action got darker, and then the old king was dead. Towards the end, light began to return, and the new young king walked confidently towards us down the stage. He was dressed in a similar costume to Saul, and somehow, you knew that in time, he too would die....
     All the cast, including the chorus, acted brilliantly and sang exceptionally well. The acoustics were great. The costumes were fabulous, as was the use of colour and light. The ornate banquet, horrible hands coming out of a table top to torment Saul, the stage floor covered in flickering candle lights, the dark battlefield littered with corpses, the vibrant dancers.....
      I couldn't fault any of it. It was, quite simply, Total Class.
     These photographs all come from the internet.
     Well, for us, we're hooked now. We'll have to go again.....
      Thanks to Bob and Alison for getting us there.

   
 

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Kino Teatr, St Leonard's - a great night out

We decided that this, our first full-length night out since my operation, was our belated wedding anniversary outing. We very much enjoyed a meal plus a film at the new Kino Teatr in  Norman Road, St. Leonard's, and Battleaxe totally recommends this place!

     The cinema is part of the Baker Mamonova Gallery, which we have visited on many occasions to view their displays of wonderful Russian art. They used to have great Soviet-era pictures of workers in factories, shipyards etc., but I suspect the supply of those is running out. Now, there are still some industrial scenes but also many of rural peasantry and more abstract landscape scenes.

      Last time we visited, Michala's Cute Cakes still occupied the cafe part, but that has now moved down to the bottom of London Road. Battleaxe loves those cakes, but am not quite sure I could face them as yet. Back then, I was also entertained by the strange loo, which was decorated with a stag's head and a pair of antique skis. All that is gone - loos are now brand new.
      Dating from 1913, the cinema was the first purpose-built establishment in the town. It closed in 1977, and the premises were used as a builder's merchants before being taken over by the gallery.  The auditorium, nicely restored, still has its original domed roof, with attractive distressed plasterwork.
      We booked ourselves in for a meal and film deal. I wonder where they got this lovely old box-office?

       The cafe is now called the Kitchen, and serves meals all day. The evening ambience is very atmospheric and romantic, lots of candles, nice table settings, music not too loud. It wasn't packed, but respectably full - you could go in there for drinks/nibbles and not eat if you wanted.  The menu was relatively small, but varied. Middle Eastern/international with decided Russian overtones, if that makes any sense.  Prices perfectly OK.
Baker Mamonova Kitchen - nice evening atmosphere
       I started with appropriately Russian borscht, and Philosopher had baba ganoush with flat bread.  The soup was very flavoursome but, if I am going to quibble, was quite difficult to eat because of too much beetroot left in large slices.  I think the beetroot should be diced up small.
       Next, seared venison, with wilted-kale-type greens and little pots of creamy/cheesy potatoes. The meat was absolutely delicious, cooked perfectly, and the potatoes were good, but the greens were maybe a little chewily robust. Also, the venison seemed to take quite a long time to get seared....
       All in all, though, the meal was good, and very nicely presented - felt a bit special.
       We didn't bother with anything else, although they have a sweet menu including sorbet with flavoured vodka.  We had a look at the art, and then settled ourselves in two leather armchairs in the auditorium.
       It is a good size - seats 100 people - but small enough to be intimate, with a bar and various armachair/sofa seating options as well as good-size cinema seats. Clearly, there has been a lot of investment in this project, and it has a definite cool, art-house cinema feel.  Again, it was full enough, but not packed.
Kino Teatr - auditorium and bar
       The film was the Danish 'Babette's Feast', made in 1987, which neither of us had ever seen.
       What a beautiful film. Very simple plot about two sisters who live in a remote village in Jutland, Denmark, and although both have chances with love, they choose to stay with their father, who runs a strict religious sect. Most of the action takes place when the sisters, and the surviving members of the dwindling congregation, are old. Their French servant, Babette, decides to cook a magnificent French feast to commemorate the one hundred year anniversary of the Pastor's birth. It is beautifully and sensitively made, well acted, alternately funny and poignantly sad. We both enjoyed it very much.
Babette's Feast
        So, in conclusion, a great venue, a great meal and a lovely film. What more could you want?
We will definitely go again! 

Monday, 19 October 2015

Bratby Selection Day at the Jerwood - our pictures take part!

'Everything but the Kitchen Sink including the kitchen sink'. That's the title of the forthcoming John Bratby exhibition at the Jerwood, coming in January 2016. They invited people to submit their own Bratbys for the exhibition, and Philosopher and Battleaxe took our two to the selection session.
     Don't get me wrong, ours are small and minor works, both acquired for modest sums from local auctioneers Burstow and Hewitt, and we were interested to know what the experts would make of them.
     The event clearly attracted a lot of attention - press, telly etc. - I'll be watching South-East today later on!
     For those who might not know, Bratby lived in Hastings with his partner, actress Patti Prime, in the cupola house just down Harold Road from here. He died walking up the hill from the chippie. (Why not get the 20 bus up like the rest of us? Perhaps they didn't have free bus passes in 1992, and despite the fact that Bratby could net in thousands at a time from his prolific painting output, they apparently spent every penny on high living).

     Here are our two, set out to await the selectors.  They looked quite small compared with some of the big, bold oil paintings.  The dog drawing is not signed, but is clearly an early Bratby from the 1960s,  and the picture of Patti is one of many drawn by him at the Acropolis, their favourite Greek restaurant, down by the Pier, dating from 1991. Even though they date from such different periods, we like both of them for their vibrant cheerfulness. The dog looks as if he was caught in the middle of an energetic ballgame, and Patti looks as if she is enjoying every minute of whatever she is doing!
    We actually met Patti when she came to the gallery last week - we'd come on one of my early outings to have coffee and view the current exhibitions - of which more later. She was with Jerwoodista Kate Giles, who I know well from Writers' Group. I told Patti we had her picture on our bedroom wall, which pleased her! She was there again today, and clearly enjoyed seeing her earlier self. Here she is, with her carer and Charlie Reeves, who was Bratby's studio assistant in Hastings. Charlie is an absolute mine of information about Bratby and his life.

   We all milled about while looking at the paintings people had brought. Here's Philosopher with Charlie and Mark from Burstow and Hewitt, one of the panel members. We know him pretty well by now as well!

Some of the other paintings were stunning.  Clearly though, as Bratby's output was so large, there are many works around that are not so good - this may explain why his reputation is still a bit patchy.
Here are a few more. The painting of the bathroom attracted much attention, mostly because of its subject matter, but as I kept hissing to Philosopher, it is a bathroom basin, not a kitchen sink. We both found it a bit sad that the principal preoccupations of the BBC lady seemed to be firstly the concept of  'kitchen sink' (yawn..), and secondly, what the painting was worth in MONEY!
Not a kitchen sink...

Apparently painted in Hove, mid 70s, just before moving to Hastings

I love that lion

Patti looks at her earlier self.
     After that, we sat down and the panel assembled, consisting of Victoria Howarth, Deputy Director, (Liz Gilmore, the Director, was doing the talking), Mark from Burstows, Charlie, artist Tom Hammick, and Julian Hartnoll, well-known Bratby expert.
Then we all had to get up in turn and talk about our works with the panel. They seemed particularly taken with the dog drawing - it was the only one of its type, and they felt it showed a clear link in Bratby's creative process, turning a drawing into painting. Later, they pulled it out again and showed it with the lion painting- you can see the style similarities.
Our dog up for comparison with the Lion
They also liked Patti, but then there are lots of pictures like it - there was a whole sheaf of works that people had submitted which were not shown on the day, including several Acropolis Girls.
    We won't know until later whether our works have made the final cut, but it was an excellent morning. Everyone was very friendly, and the atmosphere was very unstuffy and un-art-poncey.
     Battleaxe followers will know of old that art-ponciness is one of Battleaxe's pet peeves, and the Jerwood has suffered a good few lashes because of it. I was quite pleased to discover at that least some of the staff are actual Battleaxe readers! I won't bother putting any references, just look at 'Jerwood' on the 'Posts about' bar on the right.
     So what are the current exhibitions. Well, upstairs we have 'Lowry by the Sea', a small but quite nice collection of non-factory-chimney paintings.  There's one of a big ship coming into a dock which I can't find on the internet so it is no use me talking about it....
     Then, there is 'Horizons: Kettle's Yard' an exhibition of works on tour while the Cambridge gallery is being refurbished. Lots of Christopher Wood, Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Alfred Wallis, William Scott etc.  Some nice things, but to be honest, am not a great fan of the Nicholsons, I prefer Winifred to Ben, however. Not that wild about Wood either, but I quite like this bloke. Wouldn't that cat's claws be causing him agonising pain though?
   We went to Chichester recently, to the Pallant Gallery - they have a fabulous collection of art from a similar period - sorry - mind gone blank, I am recovering from an operation, you know.... oh, it's the Dannatt collection. Battleaxe would recommend a visit.
    Lastly, downstairs, there is an exhibition of works by artists who have won the Jerwood Painting Prize, taken from the permanent collection. Some I really can't understand, or appreciate, at all, like Rose Wylie and Stephen Buckley, but there is also one of my all time favourite works from the collection, this one by Maggi Hambling:
  So, altogether it feels like one of the Jerwood's more action-packed/value for money collections of works, but as I always say, why so much empty wall, folks?  You've got plenty of paintings, fetch 'em out and fill the place up!  I can see minimalist empty wall anywhere - Battleaxe likes to see paintings!
   Just a footnote about me - am getting better thank goodness! As I expected, the Conquest Hospital post is already one of the most-viewed from 2015.... get a life, all you hospital drama followers....

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Conquest Hospital again..... Gallbladder this time!

The NHS may be in crisis, the Conquest Hospital in Hastings is now in 'Special Measures', but Battleaxe's treatment has been just fine, thanks. Am just emerging into the land of the living from an operation to remove my gallbladder, after several months on a low-fat diet. 
      I have had two operations in the Conquest in 11 months, one involving an in-patient stay of over a week as well as umpteen outpatient visits. I therefore think I can safely comment on the effectiveness of the surgical services and suggest some tips to help others.
      My earlier experience, last November, is described in this post - one of the top five most popular Battleaxe posts ever.  People obviously like hospital drama.
     This time, consultant Mr Miller warned me that I might end up with open gallbladder surgery instead of the usual keyhole, because of previous scars on my tummy. That would have meant another stay in the noisy Hades of Gardner Ward - no private room for me this time, I'm sure. If anything was not right about the Conquest at my previous visit, it was the horrendous racket in that ward when you were trying to sleep.
      Back to the gallbladder business. The first good thing was the waiting time - or lack of it. In June an ultrasound revealed positive Hastings Beach of stones in my gallbladder. I agreed with the GP that I'd go through the summer, and my Turkish holiday, on a low fat diet, then see the consultant some time after the end of September.  She said she would refer me to Mr Matthew Miller, who was known to be the best, even though that might mean a longer wait. However, I saw Mr Miller on 9 September, just before I went on holiday. He was a jolly bloke, quite enthusiastic about trying some different keyhole pathways through my tummy. He said he'd do the operation himself, even though that might mean a longer wait. I got a call in Turkey on 16 September asking if I wanted to come in for the operation the following Monday.... I said I'm in Turkey. So when do I want to come in then? I suggest 5 October, and in I went.... Excellent for me, but given that my surgery was elective and non-urgent, I did wonder a bit about the management of the waiting lists. 
      One is constantly seeing appalling waiting time statistics for the NHS, but that has not been my experience here in Hastings.

What is it like having an operation at the Conquest?  
       Everyone on the day's list rolls up to the Richard Ticehurst Surgical Unit at 7.45am, washed, starved, with their little overnight bags. Frightened-looking patients and their anxious relatives cram into a waiting lounge with not quite enough seats. [Hint - get there before 7.45 to be sure of seat].  
      Lucky Battleaxe, each time I've been first on the surgeon's list. Even being first, you wait until operating work starts at 9am. For those with later time slots, it must be long, stressful and arduous. Could anything be done about that? Stagger admissions somehow?
      In earlier times, in Birmingham, I've been admitted the night before, but I found that worse - the lonely, anxious night in the ward, and the scary journey to theatre on the trolley with the endless corridor lights flashing past above your head, bombarded with raucous banter from the porter.....
      However, in Hastings, you are eventually called to have your paperwork checked, and to see the anaesthetist and your surgeon.  Philosopher came with me. This time, we both found the anaesthetist a little dour. He would only say rather grumpily that he'd 'try' to avoid me being sick, and that he would 'try' to preserve my expensive cosmetic dentistry. 
      'Nevertheless', says Battleaxe, 'Just Do Not Break My Teeth!'
      Mr Miller was as jolly as ever. Rubbing his hands with glee, he said that he had set aside double time to do my op as it would be 'challenging'. He prodded me happily. 
     'Mmn, difficult! Shall I try to put a hole in there? Or maybe there?' I would not know until I was awake again whether it had been keyhole or an open operation.
      Then, you squash into a little cubicle to undress, put on your gown, haul on your nasty elastic stockings and put on your dressing gown. All your clothes go in one of those plastic baskets you use for gardening. Then you sit and wait, with your companion, outside the doors that lead to the operating theatres. [Hint: if you wear glasses, they let you keep them on in the anaesthetic room. Take a glasses case, labelled with your name, for them to put the glasses in]. 
       We were sitting with a young man and his girlfriend when the double doors crashed open and a large scary woman appeared, shouting 'One of you lovely people is mine!' We four collapsed into a theatrical routine of flinching, hand-flapping and gurning, which made us all laugh. She pointed at me. 'It's you!' 
       I said farewell to Philosopher, followed the woman through the doors, down the corridor, clambered up onto the trolley in the anaesthetic room and lay down. In my experience, you do all that in a numb trance of terror. Bit like going on stage in the Albert Hall. Turns out the woman, Sara, was very nice, the dour anaesthetist's up-beat side-kick, obviously managing the bed-side manner for the two of them.  He was no more cheerful. 
      'You're not very friendly', I told him while he put the cannula thing in my hand. 
      He said, 'Why would you want a chummy anaesthetist?' Then, 'you've had anaesthetics before, so I'm just getting on with it, OK?' 
        'OK...' Bang, I was asleep.  Maybe not friendly, but very efficient.
        Actually, I'd rather have that than the usual 'have you been away on holiday' stuff most of them try. What do they think it is, the hairdressers?
        I woke up on one of the short-stay surgical wards, Cookson Attenborough, a positive tranquil haven of peace and quiet - in fact most of the beds seemed to be empty. I'd had the keyhole job, in fact only three holes instead of the usual four. All teeth in place. The staff were very nice, and Mr Miller came to see how I was.  He said the op had taken 3 hours, and he'd had to crush the stones to get them out.... Ugh. However, I could scarcely enjoy the peaceful surroundings, because two hours later Philosopher took me home. 
       They'd said 'Are you feeling well enough to go home, love?' Being me, of course, I said yes, even though I was already feeling sick. Wrong of me, but I also don't think they should have let me out so quickly. [Hint. If in doubt, just say no. They have provision to keep you in overnight, and it's no use being home if you are not well enough to manage].
        Now here's something for the hospital to consider. The information they give you about aftercare is not good enough. It is different depending who is talking, and is rattled off to patients who are too groggy to take much in. You do get bits of paper to take away, mine look tatty and are far too vague. Mr Miller said if I had problems to call the hospital, the ward nurse said to go to the GP.  
        In terms of caring for the wounds, I heard a confused and divergent jumble about showering/not showering, for two days/five days/over a week, keeping dry/soaking the dressings off, going to the Practice Nurse to have the steri-strips off/letting them fall off naturally. Am using past experience and common sense. High Street tattoo parlours have practical things to say about avoiding infection and wound care. [Battleaxe hints from tattoo parlour - to keep wound dry in the shower, wrap the appropriate area in cling film].

Tatty bits of paper - not much use
      They all said about the necessity to take masses of pain killers at home. Fat chance of that, I just threw them straight up, and by the next day poor Philosopher was faced with this vomiting, groaning creature, in loads of pain, with no clarity about who to ask for advice. He went down to Harold Road, and I got anti-sickness pills. All fine, but what if it had been the weekend? Got the sickness under control, and can now eat and drink, but have had no painkillers since arriving home. 
      Actually, the pain from the incisions was not bad, but what was very disagreeable was sharp shoulder pain from the gas they inflate you with when doing a laparoscopic procedure. According to the internet, the gas gets trapped under the diaphragm, and the pain is referred up to the shoulders. If you didn't know what it was you'd think you were having a heart attack... It is very common, and goes away on its own in a couple of days, but the hospital said nothing about it, nor the fact that nausea after gall-bladder surgery is also quite common. 
       One last thing, the painkillers they give you to take home are paracetamol/codeine. Bad choice there - constipating and nausea inducing. I wouldn't have touched them anyway, just stuck to paracetamol and Nurofen.
       So, hospital, better after care information, please. Produce clear, practical leaflets relating specifically to common procedures. Get the discharging nurse to sit down with the patient, and/or their carer, go through the leaflet with them, make sure they take it in. Maybe a checklist? Discourage consultants from giving their own, different, versions. Be clearer about possible after-effects and what to do about them. More attention to this would save the NHS money on unnecessary follow-ups. 
       Overall though, as I said at the start, my care has always been very good.  I've never had to wait long, either for outpatients appointments or for admission. In outpatients, I've never been kept waiting, and I've always seen my designated consultant. I've been admitted to hospital at times that suited me.  I've had the best treatment going from two of the best surgeons, Miss Shah and Mr Miller. During my time as an in-patient, the nursing care was first-class, even though staff were rushed off their feet. I loved the food! 
      I know others sometimes do not get such good experiences, and that I am very fortunate. I just hope the hospital has systems in place to safeguard the less lucky, those who can't speak up for themselves, the vulnerable and the less strong. 
      I don't see why the Conquest should be in Special Measures. Reading the inspection report, it seems to be mostly about leadership and governance. Duh? Believe me, it's a nice hospital, and as far as I can see, you will be well taken care of by staff committed to  do their best with limited resources, leadership or no leadership. It can't improve their motivation to be constantly told they are failing.
      Anyway, finally, here's my second healthcare worker, Digby, on duty. This worker demonstrated consistent commitment to HHHSK, (heavy, hot, hairy snoozing kitty therapy), plonked on sore abdomen of patient. However, he could supply no evidence that his infection control practices and paw hygiene protocols were in any way compliant with NHS standards.






       

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Scotney Castle - beautiful Autumn visit

Battleaxe is clearly having a National Trust moment. Less than a week after Bateman's we decided to go to Scotney Castle. I hardly dare confess that we had never visited after travelling past it on the A21 about half a million times.....
     It was another really fabulous autumn day. Flawless blue sky, clear, sparkling light, trees just on the turn....
     Scotney does not have a distinguished historical past, but it was given to the National Trust, intact, when its last owner and inhabitant Betty Hussey died in 2006. We gathered the Husseys made their money from iron, in Worcestershire.
     The estate we see now was created by Edward Hussey in the 1830s and 1840s. He partially demolished the old castle to create a fashionably picturesque ruin, had the grounds landscaped, and had the new house built in Gothic Revival style.  The house, designed by Anthony Salvin, reminded us, both inside and out, very much of our local Fairlight Hall, also Gothic Revival, built at the same time as Scotney.
Scotney - the 'new' house
     We loved the house, which is just as it was when Betty left it, even to the cat bed in the kitchen. One of her cats still lives there, but we didn't see it. Betty's bathroom, and her bedroom, reminded me very much of my mother - the old lady musty talcum powder smell, the pink fluffy things, the dressing table set.....  The place was packed with interesting objects and pictures, some notable, some less so, and some just funny, like the ancient electric wall heaters in the guest bathrooms. It felt very homely.
Great retro pots in the kitchen

A nice John Piper over the fireplace

A female Hussey, posing in the garden
 We had a coffee sitting outside the very nice tea-room. This time, Philosopher had to deal with the rigours of the queue - sure enough, there was an old buffer in front of him, wanting something or other which took an unsuitably long time.  For NT aficionados - shop is not as good at Bateman's!
Excellent outdoor tea area....
Then, we walked on down to the real heart of the place, the astonishingly beautiful old castle, in its moat.  Clearly, picturesque ruins have just as much appeal for us as they did for our Victorian forbears. How photogenic is this......







Battleaxe would totally recommend Scotney Castle - there is lots to see. I'm so glad to have this period of wonderful autumn weather. The Scotney outing was our last before I go into the Conquest Hospital tomorrow to have my gallbladder removed - oh yuck.  Get ready for another gripping hospital blog post!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Bateman's at Burwash - a WI outing

Having returned from Turkey in the small hours, later the same day Battleaxe was lurching through the Sussex lanes on a coach. Feeling very groggy, she was with twenty-five cheerful WI ladies, heading for Bateman's, Rudyard Kipling's home at Burwash, seventeen miles from Hastings.

Bateman's - front of the house
    It was a beautiful, clear autumn day, sunny, brilliant blue sky, so I was quite happy to roll along. I even managed the necessary shouting about getting back to the coach on time etc. At least once a year, we organise heavily subsidised/free outings, with a coach, to ensure all members have the opportunity to join in. In addition, Gary Enstone, the Bateman's House Manager, is coming to our next WI meeting to talk about the house and Kipling.
    I've been to Bateman's once before with Philosopher, quite soon after we moved down here, and they do seem to have developed the facilities and amenities since that earlier visit. The shop is excellent...
    The C17 house was Rudyard Kipling's home from 1902 until his death in 1936, and remains exactly as it was when he and his family lived in the house - mostly very dark. The most memorable room is Kipling's study. However, much of his most famous work, including 'The Jungle Books', was written before Kipling came to Bateman's.
     Interestingly, we visited exactly one hundred years to the day after Kipling's son John, aged 18, was reported missing at the Battle of Loos in WW1. It is a sad story. The boy was turned down several times because of poor eyesight, and only ended up on active service after his father lobbied in high places to get him a commission. Kipling was devastated by John's death, and never totally recovered from it. His poem, 'My Boy Jack', overtly about the Battle of Jutland but probably about his son, was written in 1915, before John's death was finally confirmed:

"HAVE you news of my boy Jack? "
Not this tide.
"When d'you think that he'll come back?"
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

"Has any one else had word of him?"
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

"Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?"
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind---
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide. 



     Some of the photos in this post are mine, and some come from the National Trust website - it was difficult to take photos inside the house.
Bateman's - the front hall


Kipling's work table
  
     Bateman's must be one of the National Trust's smaller properties, but there was plenty to keep us going for an afternoon, with tea-breaks in the essential National Trust tea-room. Why are the queues in those establishments always so slow? It always seems to be the case that some old buffers right in front of you want a bean-by-bean breakdown of the origins of the coffee, or the recipe for the tea-bread, or require some organic gluten-free customised whatever.
     So, what of Kipling?  His work is still unfashionable, and can easily be dismissed as unappealingly jingoistic. When you look at some of his writings, you can see why.  Check this out!  But although some of his writing does look dated to modern eyes, plenty of his work is powerful and timeless. His most famous poem 'If' was judged Britain's favourite poem in 1995. 
     When I was younger, I loved Kipling's dog poems and stories, and when I was a lonely little girl at boarding school, I identified with The Cat who Walked By Himself.....
  In addition to the house, you can see Kipling's 'magnificent one-thousand-two-hundred-guinea motor-car' on display. That quote comes from Alan Judd's 1991 biography of Ford Madox Ford, from a Ford anecdote about Henry James. James clearly regarded the more famous Kipling with a mixture of envy for the 'rewards accruing from his enviable popularity', and amusement at his probable awkward pomposity. I can't quote the whole piece for space reasons, but the waspish James took unsuitable pleasure, including 'humorous gasps' and 'low chuckling' when the expensive motor car seized, through lack of lubrication, between Rye and Burwash, 'which should be pronounced Burridge'.
    We all spent time pottering round the garden. It is not a big garden, but has some fine old trees, and the roses were looking good.