Showing posts from June, 2014

Sarah Raven's Garden at Perch Hill - Battleaxe is not a proper lady.

Earlier in the week Battleaxe went on a Women's Institute outing to Sarah Raven's garden at Perch Hill Farm, in Brightling, which is in the depths of the country miles from anywhere between Battle and Robertsbridge.
     Battleaxe organises our WI Gardening Group, and this was one of our scheduled garden visits.
     I'd never really heard of Sarah Raven, but turns out she writes a weekly column for the Daily Telegraph. (Only the Guardian gets across this threshold). She is married to Adam Nicolson, and now, apparently, they live at Sissinghurst. She has published many glossy and expensive books, most of which were on display in the shop at Perch Hill, which is the base for her cookery and flower-arranging school.
     Not being a proper lady, Battleaxe does not do flower-arranging, but I was struck by the set-up on our table in the coffee place, one or two blooms in a collection of little mismatched bottles on a big plate. The photo is not very good. I had to crop most of…

Hastings Battleaxe: living with Seagulls

Many Hastingas don't like seagulls. Battleaxe is quite fond of them, even though our life now has a constant background accompaniment of screaming, squawking, screeching and chattering.

     We spent our first ever night in Hastings in 2008, in the lovely Swan House in the Old Town. It was, and clearly still is, a fabulous, atmospheric place to stay. However, a gang of gulls were partying right outside our window.
     Fortunately, the racket did not put us off. On the contrary, our stay led us to fall in love with Hastings, and we soon rented our first little house, in Plynlimmon Road on the West Hill. Gulls were nesting on the chimney, and the 'peep peep' of the babies and the squawks and rattles of the parents echoed down the chimney into our bedroom.
     We soon learned that hosting a seagull family meant drama. First, one baby fell off the roof and a fox got it. Next, Philosopher made the mistake of trying to return another fallen baby to the roof. As he climbed th…

A very English week with Hastings Battleaxe

This week there was a rumpus about the delivery of  22 million free 'English' editions of the Sun. What a waste of paper - I will post ours back using their Freepost if I can get round to it. However, it did make me think that for me, this has been a very English week - sun at the seaside, lush green countryside, strawberry sponge cake, roses in the garden and Women's Institute goings-on.
    I am also thinking English because in my personal identity I have been chosen to write a monthly post about our area for an American site for Anglophiles, 'Smitten by Britain'.  My first effort is only a gentle introduction....
    However, none of this has nothing to do with the World Cup. I do like seeing talented persons with tanned thighs run about scoring goals, but watching England is too painful. It's a bit like when friends or relatives are in amateur dramatic productions. Occasionally you are pleasantly surprised, but most of the time you just sit, cringing, peepi…

Smallhythe Place, Ellen Terry - further Kent explorations.

After the caffeine-fuelled excitement of the Coffee places post, I thought I'd relax a little. Last weekend our friends John and Jan came to stay for a couple of days.John was brought up near Tenterden, so we decided to go on a nostalgia trip.
     First, we had lunch at the Two Sawyers in Pett. The sun had emerged unexpectedly, so we decided to sit outside.
     'No tabs in the garden' snapped the lady behind the bar. We quite understood why this should be, but her approach was a little off-putting. However, after some hissing amongst ourselves in the doorway, which I think the lady heard, we recovered and the food, as expected, was excellent.
     After, we drove via Rye to Smallhythe, a new destination for Philosopher and Battleaxe.
     It is hard to believe that what is now an isolated hamlet twelve miles from the sea was once an important ship-building port on the estuary of the River Rother. The last great ship to be built there was as recently as 1546, the 300 ton …

Best coffee places in Hastings, Battleaxe's favourites

I love a good cup of coffee and a nice piece of cake. Philosopher and I indulge most days.
     Back in November 2012, I wrote 'The Good Scone Guide to Hastings' for the Hastings Writers' Group Travel Writing competition. It won third prize but is now a bit out of date, and although scones are wonderful, a Battleaxe also wants cake.
     I am concentrating on coffee/teashops, not cafes where cooked food takes prominence, and I know I will have missed some gems. For this post I am only focusing on Hastings town centre and the Old Town.
     I need decent coffee and tea, nice cakes, pleasant service in a relaxing, comfortable environment, and good loos. Newspapers, preferably tabloids which we don't read at home, and outside tables for warm days are also desirable.
     Let's start with the town centre.
     The first thing that strikes me is how coffee drinking has taken root in this area. There are three coffee places on the three corners of the main junction - Caf…

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