Showing posts from February, 2014

La Traviata from beyond the Urals - a joy at the White Rock

Ever optimistic, we booked for La Traviata, put on by the obscure-sounding Russian State Ballet and Opera Theatre, at the White Rock. Our last couple of experiences down there have been grim, never mind trying a one-night stand from a touring troupe of Russians.
     However, the whole experience was a delight. The performance had a wonderfully old-fashioned feel,

with lots of big ball-gowns, corsets and flowing white nighties.... I kept imagining the Victorian well-to-do of Hastings, making their way to the newly-opened Pier Pavilion for just such a spectacle.
     The performance had English surtitles - always a bonus, even though the plot of La Traviata is well-known, and best of all, the performers were crackingly good. Don't get me wrong, we ain't talking Covent Garden here, but all the principals, and indeed the chorus, had beltingly strong voices that zapped briskly into every cavernous corner of the theatre.
     The young woman playing Violetta (Olga Sosnovskaya?) d…

Thoughts on Libraries with Hastings Battleaxe

Overall, we read that library usage is in decline in the UK.  However, for Battleaxe and Philosopher, a new era of library use has begun - we now are regular borrowers at the Hastings Public Library.
     Why has this come about? Time and convenience have much to do with it. Also, as I get older, I can't be bothered finishing books I don't enjoy. I can borrow books I would not normally try - and take them back if I don't like them. Don't talk to me about e-books either - they are fine on holiday, but I much prefer to read a printed book.
     In Birmingham, we either had to use small-scale local libraries which were often shut due to staff cuts, burst pipes or whatever, or find our way to the big city library.
    A few days ago we made our first visit to the enormous, glitzy new Library of Birmingham, with its eye-catching lacy metal skin.
      Inside, it is genuinely astonishing - huge light spaces with blue-lit escalators and travelators meandering gently up throu…

Hastings - a lovely walk on a rare sunny day

Well, what a difference a day made.....
      Here's the sea on Saturday - I don't know about anyone else, but I find it very hard to get good pictures of waves. No sooner is the camera primed and ready than it shakes in the wind, spray blows in my eyes, then the waves subside and reappear further down the beach. Yesterday a stinging hail shower finally put paid to my efforts.
      Sunday though, was gorgeous - sunny, mercifully wind free, and mild. We decided to go for a long walk - and I mean long, 5.73 miles, to be precise. We set off from our house and walked across Clive Vale to the West Hill via Bembrook Road. As soon as you clear the houses, the lovely view across the valley appears, down to sea the past the East Hill lift.
     Then, along Collier Road to the West Hill. For us, the view from the West Hill has a special significance. We first rented a little house in Plynlimmon Road, just by Emmanuel Church,  back in 2009 when we first thought of moving from Birmingham…

Lisbon - Hastings Battleaxe takes a break.

The first Bishop of Lisbon was an English Crusader monk called Gilbert of Hastings, back in 1147. I can find little about him except that he was born in Hastings. Unfortunately we forgot to look for any trace of him in the Cathedral (the Sé ) he founded.
    Our hotel, the Lisboa Plaza, suited us admirably. It was in a quiet road off the Avenida da Liberdade, a wide and busy boulevard that sweeps down through the centre of the city towards the coast. Our room overlooked a strange semi-derelict Art Deco amusement park, now being restored, so I expect the hotel and its surrounding area will go more up-market quite soon.

     The hotel was very handy for the Avenida Metro, and also the bus to the airport. Public transport in Lisbon is very good and very cheap - of particular interest to Battleaxe  and Philosopher were the old-style trams, and the various funiculars and lifts that carried you up the steep hills at both sides of the city centre - a bit like Hastings! There were great views…

Brede 'Giants'. Hastings Battleaxe recommends a visit

On Saturday a brief window of bright sunny weather opened in the morning, so we jumped through it and headed out to Brede - the restored steam engines at the old Waterworks only operate on the first Saturday of each month and on bank holidays.
      We had a slightly interesting journey to get there - the Brede Valley was flooded, and the road by the river was about a foot deep. Some drivers are such fools, the way they surge through floods at high speed - not only will they swamp themselves, but they risk swamping other cars also.
       The Waterworks, and the modern treatment plant beside it, are in an isolated and beautiful position in the Brede valley. Originally, coal to fuel the engines was brought by barge up the river and then carried to the works on a little steam railway. Apparently, however, the wells were sunk in the wrong place - the underground supplies of water turned out to be inadequate.
       The 'Giants' of Brede - the steam engines, are just fabulo…

Jerwood Collection Revealed: Hastings Battleaxe recommends....

Just a quick up-date. Go and see the 'Jerwood revealed' exhibition!
It was actually sunny today, so we went for a prowl round the Old Town before lunch and Jerwood viewing.Great excitement in George Street - the side of someone's house had collapsed just above the big wall at the back of Butler's Gap. The Fire Brigade were there and had cordoned the place off. This is the second such incident in two days. Yesterday there was a landslide in White Rock and several properties there are now unsafe. If it stays this wet for much longer, Hastings will start slowly sliding down to the sea.....
     Anyway, back to the Jerwood. They have redone the cafe - in grey with yellow accents, and bright red netting lampshades. The tables and chairs are now brown wood. It actually looks much better - warmer, more domestic, less stark.
     For this exhibition, they have got almost the whole Jerwood Collection out on display, plus a room full of
Alfred Wallis, mostly on loan from Kettle&…

Feel free to comment!

Hastings Battleaxe welcomes comments from readers. I try to reply to every one. If I don't reply, the technology has let me down!