Hastings Battleaxe does gardens and music, has a pea at Fairlight Hall…..

Battleaxe visits gardens and goes to a piano recital (and has a pea) at Fairlight Hall. I was going to write another rant about Jeremy Corbyn, leadership and the Labour Party, but do you know what? I can’t be bothered. That Labour Party is just so good at tearing itself apart. Remember Militant in the 1980’s? Oh yawn, scratch….  Let’s try and look at the brighter side of life.

Beautiful view from Fairlight Hall

Another view……

Maybe Corbyn will have resigned by the time you read this. Maybe the Labour Party will have split in two. Oh purleeze, just sort yourselves out.
     Well, at least that vile Boris Johnson has gone…. and the even viler little Farage.
     Now, change the subject.

     On Saturday, we went to the Ghyllside Open Gardens Day, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. It is a big annual event, with 20 ordinary gardens open to view. Lots of tea and cake available, and many of our WI members were either visiting, helping or opening their gardens. We walked round with friend Jean. As you can see from the photos, the weather was not great – it did rain at one point.

Jungly ‘room’  garden


     Hastings gardens are rarely flat, and all these either had wide open prospects towards the sea, or backed onto steep, wooded hillsides. It is just as interesting to see what people do with their more modest plots as it is to see large ‘show’ gardens. We saw immaculate zen calm spaces, jungly room gardens, huge ponds, paved gardens with raised beds -an incredible variety. The owners were very enthusiastic, showing us ‘before and after’ photo albums etc.  We also saw an excellent WW2 air raid shelter – a very large one, built for the residents of a whole road by the owner of a big house that once stood on the site of the current houses.  We finished up with cake etc. in the open garden of WI member Gill.
     Battleaxe would like a pond, but the effort of digging one out of our solid garden clay has always seemed a bit daunting. However, a number of those gardens had raised ponds. Interesting.

Beautiful water lily on someone’s pond…

     Yesterday, up to Fairlight Hall for the annual recital given by the winner of the Piano Concerto Competition.  The weather looked dodgy to start, but it turned into a lovely sunny afternoon.  People were having picnics in the garden. We didn’t, but I did have a Pimms. Using the ‘no ice’ Chelsea Flower Show technique meant I ended up with a huge mug of the stuff…..

Long border

      We went for a wander round the garden before the recital. Of course, this is a ‘big house’ garden, in complete contrast to the little plots from the day before. It was looking excellent. I was interested to see progress, because they have a new head gardener who rejoices in the name of Whitney Hedges. At our WI Garden meeting she told us about her organic gardening and ‘no dig’ methods. Maybe gardeners are like hairdressers, plumbers, dentists etc. When the last gardener, Peter, came, he talked about how he had to undo the mistakes made by his predecessor, and Whitney is the same about Peter…  However, it all did look good.  Great vegetables in the Walled Garden, mysteriously uneaten by slugs….

In the walled garden…..
In the walled garden

In the walled garden

Where are those slugs?

Viper’s Bugloss

Nice arrangement of canes in the greenhouse

      While we were looking at the vegetables I sneakily picked a plump-looking pea pod and ate the contents. I was just disposing of the empty pod when I heard this strange buzzing, and looked up to see a little drone, with a camera, hovering above my head.
       A few minutes later we came across a little group of young men huddled nerdily around a lap-top – clearly the drone controllers. I said to them, joshingly:
       ‘I might have to pay you to delete your footage – I confess, I had a pea in the Walled Garden and the drone saw me!’ They all gawped at me, thunderstruck, so I continued, oblivious, ‘I picked a pea, ate it, and your drone was just above me.’  Light dawned and they fell about laughing. It took me a little too long for the penny to drop….
       So, what of the music?  The competition winner, Tsu-Yin Huang, seemed a very confident young woman, and attacked her playing with gusto. As so often at Fairlight Hall, the nearby birds were very interested in the music, and joined in. One piece, ‘The Lark’ by Glinka, had an attractive  blackbird accompaniment. The piece itself was very Russian, with much emotive stuff on the low keys. Not very trillingly lark-like, I thought – not like our own dear Vaughan Williams…..

Very English view….

The Hall – Is that the Taiwanese flag, for the pianist?

      On our way out, I chatted with a bloke who works at the Hall, looking after the land etc. He said that the organic methods used on the estate are attracting lots of wild life – more flowers, so more insects, more insects, so more birds. Apparently, they have nesting kestrels, and also lots of adders. I’ve never seen an adder in the wild…
      Never mind adders, for the first time ever in Hastings, we had a squirrel visit our garden. He was clearly a youngster, from his sparsely furred tail. Here he is, drinking from the bird bath. I hope he can evade Digby. In  Birmingham, we had a grim trophy collection of squirrels’ tails on the notice board in the kitchen – the tail was all we’d find when we came down in the morning.

Squirrel on our bird bath


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