Hastings Battleaxe recommends the Winchelsea Cellars tour

All this time in Hastings, and we've never been to the Winchelsea Cellars before. One advantage of having friends to stay is that you do some of these 'touristy' things. Our one-time neighbour Bill was down from Birmingham, so off we went...      The cellars are really old - the ones we saw dated from the 1290s, and most have been unaltered since they were built. They aren't just any old cellars, they are very large, vaulted and finished like churches with dressed Caen stone imported from France.  I won't go into details about the history here, or how they were built - here is the link to the excellent Cellar Tours website which gives all the information you need.

     The cellars were constructed at the first stage of the building of the new town of Winchelsea, from 1288 onwards, following the inundation of Old Winchelsea by the sea. The cellars came first, then houses were constructed on top. In those days, the cellars were independent of the houses, with steps …

Coastal Currents and other excitements....

Last week our old friends Sue and Alex came down from Birmingham for a few days.  We did lots of walking, enjoyed the Barefoot Opera 'Carmen' on Saturday night, and visited some Coastal Currents Open Studios. Battleaxe is going to concentrate on those, because I love the opportunity to visit artists' houses as well as looking at their work.  Philosopher and I had visited a few the week before, so I'll mention those, too. Battleaxe has written about visiting studios in previous blog posts. Here are a few highlights from this year:      Firstly, last weekend, a massive old house on The Green, St Leonard's, which belongs to a friend of Philosopher's from the Jerwood. She and her husband they are gradually doing up the place - what a job, but have turned it into an informal arts centre in the meantime.

     We found one artist, Marie-Louise Miller, who was producing work based on the walls - studying the layers of old wallpaper etc.

     We actually bought thi…

Hastings LitFest - Hastings Battleaxe enjoys!

Last weekend, Battleaxe  had a really good time going to Hastings Literary Festival Events, both with Philosopher and with writing/poetry friends.      The festival, the first one in Hastings, was organised by two former Hastings Writing Group chums - Marcia Woolf and Sam Davey. Total respect to them - they worked like maniacs to organise and deliver such a massive programme - jam-packed with events from Friday lunchtime until Sunday afternoon, in a variety of venues across Hastings and St Leonard's.

      Philosopher and I went to the opening session at the Opus Theatre on Friday, with David Hare, the Festival patron, and actor Julian Sands reading some of  Hare's poetry, which has never had a public airing before. I chatted briefly with Sam and Marcia - both clearly anxious but well into their stride.
     Now, here's a funny thing. A couple of weeks ago I booked us a winter break in Florence - I have never been there, and Philosopher last went about 50 years ago.  As I…

Croquet - just the game for Hastings Battleaxe and the WI

Croquet? Really?  Yes. I just realised a post is overdue, am ready to throw myself into the Hastings Lit Fest later today and tomorrow, so thought I'd do something completely different....  Have played croquet a couple of times now with the WI, and can't understand why the game is not more popular.

No, this isn't us playing on the top of Beachy Head - it is a campaign organised by Pimms to promote the game and keep it alive. They've also set up gimmicky croquet lawns at the top of the Shard, at Heathrow Airport, and at summer festivals. But I like this picture - all the safety campaigners who bang on (rightly) about not going too near the cliff edges must have had apoplexy...
      Pat, one of our WI members, belongs to a croquet club out at Ivychurch on Romney Marsh, and last year she arranged a coaching/playing day for us out there.  This year we did the same - the expert players help us and lead us through games, which swiftly become ferociously competitive. Croque…

As You Like it, Lamb Players at Fairlight Hall - loved it!

Last night we went to Fairlght Hall to watch The Lamb Players in 'As You Like It'. Evening was a bit grey and chilly, but the performance was fabulous! Enjoyed every minute of it.  Battleaxe recommends!
     It is Lamb House's loss, but Fairlight Hall's gain.... The Lamb Players are a fairly loose association of actors, some with distinguished careers, who come together a few times a year to put on productions, mainly of Shakespeare comedies. They were founded in 2009 by the then tenant of Lamb House in Rye - Battleaxe visited and wrote about the changes to the house earlier this month!
     Every year, they had an arrangement with the National Trust to put on a summer play in the garden, and also extra events - Battleaxe went to a Henry James 100th birthday reading event in 2016, with Miriam Margolyes.
     However, when the National Trust did the recent changes to the house, the contract with the Lamb Players was terminated. A shame, but it is our gain....  In the L…

Hastings Battleaxe explores Queen's Arcade - Birthplace of telly?

You will have read in the last post that we had GD to stay? Well, one of our grand-parentoid tasks is to take her to the hairdresser - I chose the one in the Queen's Arcade, Hastings. While I was waiting, I was reflecting on the history of the place, and in particular, its link with John Logie Baird.
      So, first, why choose that hairdresser? Simple. I try and choose one as obscure and hidden as possible, so that if GD has a bad moment, we need never go back again... but in fact they cut her hair very well.
      John Logie Baird? Well, when you arrive in Hastings by road, the signs proclaim 'Hastings, Birthplace of Television'. Indeed, many of Baird's early experiments were carried out in his workshop at No. 8, Queen's Arcade - here is some information about it. 
      Apparently, the first ever television picture - a tiny image of a maltese cross, transmitted over a range of two or three yards, was first seen here. You'd assume that as this was a big thing f…

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