Showing posts from 2013

Hastings Battleaxe Blogoversary - and Happy New Year!

Yes, it's a horrible word, but in the 'Blogosphere', celebrating the anniversary of your blog's start date seems to be what you do.  Maybe because so many quickly fall by the wayside .  
     What are you supposed to do on the big day? have a cake with candles? Crack open a bottle of
champagne?  There are websites offering 'widgets' to put on your blog that count down the days until your blogoversary, but that sounds seriously naff.
     Hastings Battleaxe will have been going for two years as at 21.03 on 31 December. What on earth was I doing, hunched over the computer teaching myself how to use Blogger on New Years' Eve?
     I do know it took much fiddling about before I managed to generate my first post, which got precisely 18 page views. With currently around 2000 views per month, this blog is still small time, but traffic is still steadily increasing month on month, which is good for a 'hobby' blog.
     In December 2011 we were at the st…

Weather gone mad - and Hastings Battleaxe M and S fashion tip.

Well, we survived the pre-Christmas Eve storm relatively OK - the wind kept us awake most of the night - at its peak, gusts bashed and bludgeoned the house so violently it was quite frightening. I gather the winds were hurricane force just off the coast.
     In the morning we had lost a fence panel and our Christmas lights were all over the place - the singing
Santas scattered. More storms were expected so we put them all away.  Neighbours had lost lots of fencing, roof tiles and telly aerials so we were quite lucky.
     At least we had power round here - looking at the map of power cuts Hastings was one of the only places to survive in this area, even though we had some of the strongest winds, so lucky again. We have had a few power cuts since we came to Hastings - more than in Birmingham, not surprisingly.  I said to Philosopher that perhaps we should keep a box with candles, camping stove etc, somewhere handy.
    The storm seemed to be much worse than the one a couple of months…

Happy Christmas from Hastings Battleaxe - and a Google weirdness....

Just back from the Midlands. Grim drive in pouring rain. 
     Have had punishing, but very pleasant, few days of catching up with friends and family.
     On Wednesday we drove up to my sister's near Bedford and stopped the night.  As well as Pat and David, it was nice to see my niece Sara and her youngest son Joe.      Next day we went on to Brum, and from then until Saturday lunchtime was a continuous round of catching up and eating - we are talking coffee, lunch, tea and supper with different people each day, including fetching Eve from her last day at school. She had won a prize draw with £50 worth of vouchers!  Not that she would tell us anything about it, of course. You ask her what she has been doing at school and she says 'I don't know...'. Still, I remember how boring it was to be asked such questions by grandparents or even parents.
     I feel incredibly fat and it is not even Christmas - on Tuesday, I had an enormous meal down here with the WI Committee l…

Beautiful day at Beachy Head

Thought I'd include a bit of glorious sun at Beachy Head to brighten up the grey, wet weather we have mostly had this week.
     Hard to believe this was only Wednesday.... Having said that, this morning we were sitting outside drinking coffee in the sun at the West Hill Cafe.
     We combined a pre-Christmas trip to Waitrose in Eastbourne with a walk. It was absolutely sublime. The
sky was really as blue as in the first picture, the air was fresh and clear and the sun was glittering on the sea so brightly you could scarcely look at it. There were lots of paragliders floating about - the breeze was obviously just right for them to drift over the edge of the cliffs, and then, astonishingly, to glide back up to land safely on the top again. It must have been wonderful for them, but very scary. No way would I go gliding off the edge of Beachy Head on anything....
     I've mentioned before on this blog how being up on the top of those cliffs raises my spirits - it's hard to …

Horrors at the White Rock, then Battleaxe the writer gets a boost

I think I can safely say I have never seen anything as bad as the Christmas Crooners show at the White Rock Theatre.
    Went on a WI outing. The person who had booked the tickets had legged it up north and didn't attend. Hopefully she didn't know what we were letting ourselves in for.
    It was supposed to be a jolly Rat Pack tribute singalong with Frank and Bing thing, but instead it reminded me of one those films/plays/novels (sorry, I can't think of a single title) about sad, ageing variety artists on tours of low-rent provincial theatres. They sit in their stained vests in their dingy dressing rooms, toupee in one hand, fag  in the other, bottle of scotch on the side, and bitch on about everything and everyone.
    The curtain lifted to a discouraging screech of electronic feedback, to reveal a tatty set with a plastic Christmas tree and a seedy, bored-looking backing band, who turned out to be Bulgarian (you could not make this up...). Then on
came 'Frank',…

Christmas shopping insanity - and the real Hastings BattleAxe!

Well, we've had Black Friday and today, apparently, it is Cyber Monday when we are all supposed to be buying off the Internet. That Black Friday thing is new to us Brits - just another way of getting us to dig into our rapidly emptying pockets.
     Battleaxe is sorry to sound like a curmudgeon (no, I lie, I am not sorry at all, I love it) but I am fed up of
turning on the telly and seeing endless Christmas adverts - generally for supermarkets, with gormless-looking people stuffing themselves with revolting-looking food - yum yum lovin' that Iceland three-bird roast.... Then if it's not food, it is beautiful young things prancing about snowy streets dressed in Christmas party clothing - or lingerie.
     I am fortunate enough not to have to face Christmas without much money. The pressure to buy and buy, and fill your house with tat, is appalling.
     Talking of insane consumerism, yesterday we drove up to Dulwich College for the Mid Century Modern show and fair - Anna ha…

Dark iClouds over Hastings....the shock of the new?

Making new bits of technological equipment work is far too traumatic. 
     The beautifully designed shiny new things nestle excitingly in their lovely boxes, but the experience of unpacking them is always overshadowed by a sense of dread....what will happen when the 'on' switch is pressed.
     Chez Battleaxe, I thought the arrival of Philosopher's Windows 8 computer would take a lot of beating on the trauma scale - the howling and cursing went on for weeks, and can still erupt again if anything new is tried.       However, this week I got a new iPhone 5s.  Philosopher is getting my 4s instead of his old one, partly because he wanted a better phone camera - and that one is good.  I have been with Vodafone so long I get very good deals, so decided to upgrade.  I won't go into the boring nerdy details of it but suffice it to say I could not download my stuff off the iCloud onto the new phone.     After much wailing and gnashing I eventually phoned up Apple - they now appe…

Redoubt Fortress, Martello Towers, Writers' Group, Women's Institute

We went to Eastbourne and visited the Redoubt Fortress on our way to Waitrose.
     Philosopher has bought a book on Martello Towers and it mentioned the fortress, which apparently oversaw all the 74 towers from Seaford to Folkestone. We didn't even know it existed.
     It is an interesting circular structure, with a series of barrack rooms opening onto a central courtyard. It is now a military museum for the former Royal Sussex Regiment and Irish Hussars. The museum was wonderfully crowded, with cabinets full of every imaginable category of uniform and accoutrement. A nineteenth century officer could expect to have a minimum of ten different uniforms.  Shakos, pelises, glengarrys, bandoliers....   How about
sabrage, the art of opening a champagne bottle with a sabre....or nose clips for horses to wear in battle.... And as for the medals and decorations.... cabinet after cabinet. Some big-wigs had so many medals and fancy decorations hanging off coloured ribbons that it must ha…

Wet, wet, The Habit of Art at Bexhill, Hastings herring festival

Readers of this blog often say that life in Battleaxe Land seems to be a continuous round of sunny walks and cakes in quaint tea rooms. 
     Well, not this week, I can tell you. The weather has been evil. It has rained incredibly hard for long periods. At the beginning of the week 'Hamilton Springs' - the  little stream that surprised us by suddenly flowing from under the house one time last winter, made a second appearance, burbling busily down the drive and out down the road.  Last year the neighbours said it hadn't been seen for 25 years, and now it appears two years running - what does this mean? I tried to photograph it but it was hard against the light, and by the time I tried again it had dried up once more. Yesterday it was incredibly wet, and it was out there yet again.....
     Couple this wetness with still being infested with the same horrid cold/virus thing I mentioned in the last blog post, and this week has not been the best. I went to the doctors on Monday…

Hastings Half-term, Great Storm? traffic traumas, Brum again....

Last week was grand daughter Eve's half-term.
     On Monday morning we drove up to Beaconsfield Services to collect her from her Dad - yes, I said drove, and yes up the A21, even though it was The Morning After The Great Storm....a bit of an anticlimax, really. I was awake for ages in the night waiting for the roof to blow off, but our house is substantially more solid than our rackety old Victorian heap in Birmingham, and clearly the wind was not that strong anyway.
     Before we left we went down to the sea to look at the waves, which were big but not awe-inspiringly so. 
There was one tree blocking the A21, which was cleared away before we got there, and a few odd saplings and branches sticking out of the hedge into the road, but nothing that exciting really, and hardly any cars, so made better progress than usual.
     In the evening when we had brought Eve back I went down to Writers' Group.  It was the results of the journalism competition.  I wrote a rather dull piec…

Madame Butterfly at the White Rock, WI outing, Animal Writes

Last year we went to Opera South-East's Nabucco, and enjoyed it immensely. It was gripping, well produced, and well sung, so we had high hopes of this production of Madam Butterfly.
     We started the evening by trying the pre-theatre meal at the White Rock Theatre cafe. It was perfectly OK, and the service was excellent, but the menu was slightly crazy, perhaps designed to appeal to the larger Hastingas appetite. It offered the opportunity to 'Dine for £10 per head', and the offer included a main course and a side order. Mains were things like scampi and chips, sausage and mash, burger and chips. Sides were....wait for it, chips and mash. There was also the option of garlic bread, which we asked for as a starter, but were told that there would be 'no time'.....even though we'd sat down at 6pm.    Anyway, the food came on little wooden boards and was just fine - we'd have it again.
     We had seats in the second row of the circle. I like the White Rock, b…

Winchelsea walk, wet in Rye and the Jerwood's latest exhibitions

Let's start with a nice autumn outing - the weather has been all over the place. Friday was fabulous, and we went for a lovely walk round Winchelsea.  Started off with coffee and homemade Battenberg cake at the Farm Kitchen, sitting outside in the sun.
     A couple of weeks ago I went on a walk with the WI, so I revisited some of it again, just for a short
     We went down the little lane through the Land Gate, past a field of very Pre-Raphaelite looking sheep. Found loads of beautiful big shiny conkers which Philosopher picked up. It is a pity there is no way of keeping them at their fresh and shiny best - they soon go dull and shrivelled. That goes for all of us, I guess.

     Then down to the Royal Military Canal. With the WI, we struck across the level to the sea wall, but Philosopher and I strolled round to Winchelsea along the canal. There were fantastic cloudscapes, loads of swans, huge dragonflies, sighing reeds, and millions of blackberries if I had brought any…

NIght Riviera to Penzance....our anniversary

27 years we've been married.....we always like an anniversary treat. Last year it was Sorrento.
     We set off from Hastings last Wednesday. When we arrived in London we visited the Laura Knight exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery to get us into the mood for Cornwall. She painted many pictures of
the areas we visit. A few years ago we stayed in a damp studio she had supposedly used in Sennen Cove
     Next, the theatre: 'One Man, Two Guvnors' at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket.  We went out of curiosity as much as anything - it has been running so long with a reputation of being so totally, knicker-wettingly  hilarious that we didn't want to miss out..... 'The evening generates the kind of uproarious laughter of which our theatre has lately been starved', wrote Michael Billington.....
     Well, my knickers stayed totally dry, and so did Philosopher's. We both found it mildly entertaining but decidedly unfunny, wooden and laboured. Some of the actors…

Romantic Rye Harbour, stunning October weather

Just a quick round-up -we are off on our travels again any minute, to Cornwall, for our wedding anniversary. Will write more about that on our return.
     On Saturday we went down to Rye Harbour - to walk, and to take a couple of photographs to Morgan and Peter who keep the Avocet Gallery and Tearoom - one of our favourite places. The cakes there have to be the best ever, anywhere, and they always have lovely things to look at. I see they got a write-up in Coast magazine this month - well-deserved.
     The walk was very special, because by chance, we had arrived at the highest point of one of those extra-high tides - a spring tide? The landscape was transformed, and instead of progressing along a river, the boats on their way up and down the harbour channel to the sea looked as though they were sailing over a lake. When we reached the sea, Camber Sands had vanished - just a narrow strip by the dunes was left.
     To make things even more romantic, there was a sailing boat race, and t…

Coastal Currents studio visits

Last weekend we went down to view some of the Open Studios for Coastal Currents.
     We were surprised how few there were this time - last year there were loads of beach huts up by Bulverhythe, for example.

     We didn't ask anyone why this was. I think last year I commented that the festival seemed to be getting a bit up itself - I don't know enough this year, because we missed a good deal of what was going on due to holiday. Some of it looks plain weird, like these performance people - look at this...

     Anyway, first thing we went to pay our annual visit to the Hazelwood and Dent fly-press, which we gave to metal sculptor Leigh Dyer when we moved down here. See earlier blog on Battleaxe's Brummie heritage.
     The press lives at the Incurva Studios in the Old Town, which were open for Coastal Currents, and is getting ready for its next job, stamping out bits of copper for jewellery.  That, of course, is what it was made for in the first place, which is nice.

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