Herrings and cattern cakes at Hastings Herring Festival – and Skyfall

Well, honestly, this wet weather is getting a bit much.
     It rained solidly yesterday – we went down into town and saw Skyfall at the Hastings Odeon.
 Shared the cinema with most of the population of East Sussex, who had clearly had the same idea to cheer up a wet, miserable Saturday.  Our screen was packed tight with mega-huge tubs of popcorn and erupting super-size cups of fizzy pop – and that was without all the damp steamy people. Lots of quite small kids too, who wanted to go to the toilet lots of times – unsuitable film, and all the pop, I guess.
    The film was quite classy, but we didn’t actually like it that much compared with the earlier Bond movies – too little action and too much talk, and the plot seemed contrived. No wonder the kids got bored.
     Wind howled alarmingly round the house all night – we both slept badly.
     Today looked sunny at the start of the day, so we went down to the Old Town – I wanted to photograph shops for my Top Ten shops blog post (coming soon).
     It is the first Hastings Herring Festival this weekend. Went to the Eat Cafe for coffee and had a traditional Cattern Cake – sort of spicy shortbread made with caraway seeds – nice, but frightful lot of bits in one’s teeth.  There seemed to be lots of talk of ‘Catterning and Clemmening’ – some old Sussex tradition to do with celebrating the feasts of St Catherine and St Clement, where kids went round door-to-door demanding stuff. I don’t quite know what this has to do with herring…. Needless to say, being Hastings there were lots of big beardy blokes in Morris/bonfire type kit, and even the odd corset.  In the tents outside we had chunks of cooked herring on bread.  Apparently herrings are undergoing a revival – I had loads as a child – bony things, but tasty.

    One of the first things I ever did when we came to Hastings was to buy some enormous kippers from a fish stall in Rockanore – they stunk the house out for days.
    We went and looked at the sea – there was a police helicopter hovering and lots of people gawping up at it – perhaps they were looking for a body – and then it started to rain again.
     In the interests of blog research I wanted to have fish and chips at a cafe on the Stade –  in a black hut at the top of a staircase called Maggie’s, which seems to be just about as hard to get into as the latest Heston restaurant or similar.  Tried ages ago with friends the two Sues, only to be shouted at by some harpy woman who said we couldn’t come in.  Today was no better – we had only just tried to climb the steps when a comedy fish-wife, looking like Michael Palin dressed up in Monty Python, came and shrieked furiously at us that it wasn’t open and that we weren’t to ask her anything because she was from over there…Philosopher said he was never going back anyway, it looked too grim. Ended up with these platefuls at the Blue Dolphin chippie instead….

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