Sovereign Harbour, Rye Harbour – Granny Battleaxe on patrol

Last week we had grand-daughter Eve staying with us. She is now at the awkward age where playgrounds and play centres are too babyish, and adult things too boring. Mind you, I won’t miss having to sit in those hectic warehouses full of screaming children….
     We went to Sovereign Harbour near Eastbourne, a purpose-built marina, retail and residential area, a much bigger and more modern version of Brighton Marina. The cinema out there was showing the latest Muppet film and Eve quite wanted to see that. Philosopher and I had briefly visited the outer fringes of the development before, and came away vowing never to return, it looked so tacky and horrible.
     However, this time we explored further, looking for somewhere to have lunch, and to our surprise it was very pleasant.
     There is a big ‘Waterfront’ area with many cafes and bars with wide terraces where you can watch the boats, and the harbour itself is very large, and interesting to walk round. The different basins are crossed by paths with lift-up bridges for the boats to pass under. One duly lifted to allow a fishing boat to pass just after we walked over it, and the route to the sea is protected by giant locks with enormously strong gates to protect the harbour and keep the sea level constant. Again, we saw a lock open to admit a boat. Beyond the locks, there is an outer basin before reaching the sea, and this has to be dredged constantly to keep the silt at bay – we saw the dredger at work.

Sovereign Harbour – the Waterfront
View from the Waterfront
Bridge opening
Could do worse than those apartments….
Sea lock gate opening
Sea lock

     I am astonished to hear myself say this, but we will go back again!
     By the time we had eaten our lunch and walked all round, Eve had gone off the cinema, which didn’t worry us – I don’t like Ricky Gervaise anyway.
     Another day I took her on the WI walk to Rye Harbour. It is odd there are so few harbours on our stretch of coast. Nothing between the ‘luxury mooring’ at Sovereign Harbour, and Rye, which is scarcely a harbour at all, more of a silted up river inlet – the boats have to wait for high tide before they can get in and out.
     Eve hadn’t been going to sleep until really late and was so tired she scarcely spoke all the way round. It was a lovely sunny morning and there were many birds about – none of us knew what they were.  We all invaded the Avocet tearoom en masse for coffee and cakes. Blog readers will know that this is a favourite place of ours – little time to chat to the proprietors on this occasion.
     Back to Birmingham on Friday, the worst car journey we have ever had. The M25 was blocked by a lorry crash and oil spill, and the M40 was closed by an accident. We had to leave the motorway at Banbury and wend our way through the side roads. On top of this, we had to drive through torrential rain. Fortunately, Eve eventually subsided into a state of catatonic boredom, half asleep across the back seat. We left the petrol station at Sainsburys in Hastings at 1.20pm, and it was after 7 before we dropped her at her Mum’s.
    As usual, we stayed with our good friends Sue and Alex, and the next day, instead of rushing round lots of people, Philosopher and I went up to the City Centre on our own. We went to the Museum and Art Gallery to see the Grayson Perry tapestries.  These are a series of woven panels about class in Britain based on Hogarth’s ‘Rakes Progress’. We thought they were clever, and sometimes quite funny, but only kept our attention for a short while. Certainly they were better than a lot of the so-called art we have to pay money to see down in the south.

One of the Grayson Perry tapestries

   The Art Gallery is one of the things I miss the most about Birmingham. So many fabulous things to see, all free, in such a beautiful old building. We visited some of our favourite pictures, and also looked at ‘The Blind Girl’ by Millais. It is strange to think that he did the rough sketches for that picture here, at Clive Vale Farm, where the Battleaxe’s house now stands, when he visited Holman Hunt. Personally, I have never liked this as much as others, for example ‘Boer War’ by Byam Shaw, which unfortunately was not out on display, and Ford Madox Brown’s ‘An Autumn afternoon’, which was hanging up.

‘The Blind Girl’ with Winchelsea in the background
‘Boer War’, John Byam Shaw
‘Autumn Afternoon’ by Ford Madox Brown. Hard to get the colours right in the reproduction.

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