Last weekend our old friend +Shaun Mckenna came down to stay. He is one of the script-writers on the BBC Radio Four WWI series, ‘Home Front’, which is being broadcast every day for four years – the duration of the war, to mark the 100 year anniversary.
Many of the episodes are set in Folkestone, and apparently, in the next series, the action moves to Sandgate. Shaun had never been there, so an expedition was swiftly organised.
Philosopher and I have visited Sandgate before, when we first arrived in Hastings, and back then, we weren’t that impressed. Although it has an attractive High Street, only one antique shop had looked our sort of thing, and we had grave trouble finding a decent cup of coffee. We ended up in a very uninspiring place with sticky red carpet, smelling of Jeyes Fluid. (Can you still get Jeyes Fluid? Yes, you can, I’ve just Googled it. Today it is marketed as an ‘outdoor’ disinfectant, but is presumably the same stuff which was poured down school bogs by the gallon.)
However, in a very short time, Sandgate has come up in the world. We left Shaun yacking in the offices of the Sandgate Society, and found an excellent new coffee place, ‘Loaf’, just along the street. Coffee excellent, good cake, nice loos.
|Loaf at Sandgate|
Next, a prowl about. Shaun wanted to find the site of the Bevan Military Hospital, which treated over 12,000 men during the course of the war. Now, a modern apartment block occupies the site. I liked this extract from its history:
‘The central court was entirely devoted to open-air treatment, and here
the most obstinate cases of septic poisoning were rapidly cured; so
much, indeed, were the patients benefited by their sojourn here that
whenever any of them for one reason or other were moved indoors they
invariably begged, even in wintry weather, to be taken back. This
open-air sea ward was sheltered from the rains and winds by a
transparent roof and storm blinds, erected through private generosity,
and only in the event of the most severe gale was this ward vacated.’
Perhaps the overstretched Hastings Conquest Hospital could just line up rows of beds on the beach?
During our wanderings we found this lovely little house – birthplace of Hattie Jacques.
|Hattie Jacques’ birthplace|
Of course, the big Sandgate name is H G Wells. There was an exhibition about his work, ‘War of the Words’ in the High Street, and we parked near an early home of his by the beach. In our earlier visit to Sandgate, Philosopher and I found the grand house he had built for himself, Spade House, designed by eminent Arts and Crafts architect, C F A Voysey. It is now a private nursing home.
|H G Wells’ first Sandgate home|
|Spade House, then and now|
Plenty of antique shops to visit this time too.
We had lunch at the sea-front restaurant at the Ship Inn, which was just fine. The pub looks tiny from the front but is very long and narrow, stretching back into a new extension. I had a good scallop salad.
|Ship Inn, Sandgate|
After, we headed for Hythe. We took Shaun to see the bones in the church crypt – see previous post. I’m sure them bones will inspire future creativity. We cruised the shops, and had a cup of tea and a scone sitting outside in the sun. It was all very good, particularly for me, as I had found a spaghetti poodle in the antiques centre – a rare occurence, believe me.
Next morning, we got up early to go to the Elm Tree Car boot Sale. Shaun confessed that he wanted an old ‘Viewmaster’ 3d slide viewer, and we actually found one, in its original box, complete with reels of Lourdes and Rome.
I got this Jemima Puddleduck for the garden. She is quite old, and so bad she is beyond good. Poor Philosopher had to carry her (she is heavy) and forgot where we had put the car…..
Then Shaun bought me these….. published in 1960. I can’t wait to read them. These are volumes 2,3,4. I’ve ordered the first in the series from Ebay.
Then, down to the Old Town, and the skateboarding dog. I’ve never actually seen one ‘live’….
Finally, in case readers are thinking Battleaxe does nothing but wallow in the depths of the most fatuous kitsch, we went to lunch at the Jerwood, and looked at the new Ibrahim El-Salahi-Haraza exhibition. Hmm. I do try, honestly, but I’d rather have my spaghetti poodle…..