Another enormously long walk last weekend – something I really like about Hastings is how you can go on such interesting walks, so many of which are off the road via twittens, through woods etc. There is so much variety – a different view opens up every time you turn a corner.
This time, we puffed up the side of the West Hill, having started just below Sacred Heart in London Road. Again, as usual, we were blown away by the view from the top. Stopped for coffee at the West Hill Cafe – as grungy as ever. Another fabulous sunny day – clear, crisp, with just a hint of autumn in the quality of the light. It was one of the Coastal Currents Festival Open Studio weekends, so we dropped in at the Beacon on our way back across the hill. The artistic inhabitants seemed a good deal more sorted than we have sometimes found them in the past – they were obviously preparing to serve food to visitors – lots of tables out in the big garden. We found well-known potter Judith Rowe in her studio – wearing a lovely blue and white spotted fifties dress. The Philosopher bought a pot as a birthday present (not saying more because I know the intended recipient reads this blog!). I bought a strange plate with a picture of Adam and Eve on it. The Beacon is obviously developing itself in all sorts of ways – workshops, art events etc – looks good.
Then on down St Mary’s Terrace, past all the pretty houses, down the steps across the railway (aka Dog Poo Alley) and down into Alexandra Park. Park was looking particularly splendid.
Up through Shornden Wood, round the reservoir, and piled hopefully into the North Star in Clarence Road. Had always liked the look of the pub, and clearly it does excellent beer – but horrors and disappointment – no food, so sadly we left again.
Down into Summerfields Wood. The place has quite a spooky feel to me – maybe because it has been much less tended than others, maybe because the valley is darker, I don’t know. No-one working in the walled garden today, but we visited the Folly/spring/pool. For once, it was looking quite neat – last time we walked past we had to move a huge tree branch to let the water flow down.
It was constructed as a mock Roman bath in the 1830s, but local Hastingas attribute far more mystic origins to it.
By this time, we were really hungry, and quite tired, so once we got back down to town we went to Frank’s Front Room for lunch. Had never been before, and were very impressed. Food was delicious and excellent value, nice atmosphere, nice people, good beer. They also had a Coastal Currents show, by an artists’ group called Zoom. We ate lunch with one of the members, a photographer/artist called Penny Hobson. Many months ago we saw her beachcombing creations at the Arts Forum – pictures made of old cigarette lighters – really quirky.
I may as well carry on about Coastal Currents, now I have started. The next day we went down to the sea-front and visited the studios in the beach huts. We were pleased to see Claire Fletcher in the hut she keeps with her partner. We have one of her pictures here at home, in our bedroom, of a child sitting on the top of the Downs with a dog, looking into the distance. Her pictures are light-hearted, and yet somehow poignant – they give a wrench to the heart – something about lost magic of childhood, I guess.. I found lying in bed looking at our picture immensely comforting when I was ill – nearly two years ago now. This time I saw another picture I really liked, but am torn about getting it….
We also called in to the Incurva studio in the Old Town to visit our fly-press (see earlier blog about Battleaxe’s Brummie heritage). A jewellery maker has just moved into the studio, and Leigh Dyer was about to set up our press for her to use. I am so glad it will be put to work.