Hastings Battleaxe returns from Cornwall amid Covid chaos…

Hastings Battleaxe was born in December 2011, as a way of letting our friends and family back in Birmingham know about our new life here in Hastings. Now, in March 2020, Battleaxe is still going strong, and once again the blog will serve as a sort of diary. Right now, we are all now isolated from each other.  Geographical distance no longer matters, social distance is everything. We can’t even pop in for a drink with the next-door neighbours… we are ‘vulnerable’. How can our lives have changed so quickly?

Battleaxe on the way to Land’s End

Oh Blimey. At just a few months over 70, I’m classified as elderly. It has never been shoved in my face before. I don’t feel it at all. Philosopher and me are both strong and healthy, but both supposedly in the vulnerable group that is supposed to be socially distancing ourselves. Life has changed so quickly, so drastically. We don’t have any of these famous ‘underlying health issues’ but plenty of our friends have – stay well, all of you.

Last Friday we set off on our annual trip to Cornwall, staying the first night as usual with old friend Karol in Lyme Regis. Wow – only a week ago but we went out to a crowded restaurant for our supper without a care in the world…  Then on to Penzance to share a house with the usual four friends from Birmingham.  We soon realised that we wouldn’t be able to stay the full time. The weather collapsed, places were closing down, and Penzance felt a very long way from the security of home. We came back on Wednesday, and the Brummies returned yesterday.

We did the whole journey home to Hastings in one day – had planned to stop off in a hotel in Dorchester and visit the Thomas Hardy homes, but that wasn’t going to happen. The journey is 321 miles. We set off from Penzance at 9am and got back here at 5.30.  A long day but we managed fine, sharing driving and plenty of stops. We ventured into a wayside Starbucks where we were the only people sitting in the entire echoing barn of a place, and ate our sandwich sitting in the car in a drizzly, cowpatty layby somewhere nowhere…

This year we had opted to stay in Penzance rather than our usual place, right down at the very tip of England, in Sennen Cove. Sennen is spectacular, and there are lots of lovely walks, but to get to most places you have to drive 9 miles back to Penzance before you even start.  However, we went to Sennen on our one only real sunny day and had a walk across to Land’s End. The blue of the sea and the sky – the waves – the golden gorse – fabulous.

Looking down at Sennen Cove village. Our last year’s house is in the foreground on the right.


The gang at Land’s End



We had our picnic on Sennen Beach and watched the dogs and their owners.  The dogs were having such a great time rushing up and down after their balls, chasing each other, in and out of the sea…  that’s the thing with animals, they just get on with life and enjoy it.

This fat old chap wasn’t chasing a ball into the sea, but still having a good time…

It is good to have Digby back at home from the cattery. Obviously angry with us for going away, demanding food and attention, wanting to play, and that’s the sum total of his concerns.  Here is one of my favourite old photos of him, looking tigerish…


We had a lovely old house in one of Penzance’s beautiful old terraces – Georgian, I’d guess, very tall, high celiings, on three floors.  The house was near both the Penlee Gardens and the Morrab Gardens. I think the artist heroine of the Patrick Gale novel, ‘Notes from an Exhibition’ probably lived in a house like this. It is ages since I read it  but is probably my favourite of Gale’s books.

The magnolias etc in the Morrab Gardens were looking very good:

I had envisaged strolling down to the romantic old Morrab Library on a wettish day and sitting there pretending to write, but we were not there long enough… and it would have been closed anyway. Here is a picture from a couple of years ago, and a link to the post about it.

The writer’s chair still awaits its occupant…

We had our usual walk down to Penberth…

Philosopher at Penberth

Even though the trip was cut short, it was nice to spend a few days with old friends, and quite poignant to say goodbye – who knows when we will all meet again?

We had planned to go up to Birmingham at Easter and have grand daughter to stay, but of course that won’t now happen.  We had trips to London planned to meet Shaun, and then to meet my sister – no. We will almost certainly lose our planned trip to Egypt (snorkelling in the Red Sea) in May… and then what about Turkey? It isn’t looking good…

So, here we are, back at home in Hastings. I am not going to go on about the virus crisis – hell, we all know all there is to know, which honestly isn’t much, despite our dear ‘leader’ telling us yesterday ‘we’ll beat it in 12 weeks’.  Just one word there – how have we ended up with a Prime Minister who can’t even make a sensible, clear, credible leader-type speech to us without ridiculous gestures, waffling and mumbling,  prevaricating and digressing.  Hell fire, even the middle managers who used to come on my one-day Presentation Skills courses would have gone away more skilled than that. Even allowing for the fact that I’d have to waste half the day arguing with women about showing too much cleavage when they leant forwards. Still, I guess Johnson is more lucid than Trump, but that is not saying much. Jeez.

I said to Philosopher this morning that we might start forgetting what day it is.  We have resolved to go out for a walk every day… we are lucky here to have nice places to go. Today we went for a walk down on the seafront.  It was a bit cold and faintly drizzly. Walked back through town – quite a few cafes still open. Cafe Nero was its usual, steamed-up self full of stupid people.  Government – why have you not closed these places? We met friend Peter sitting outside St Mary in the Castle cafe, and then, greatly daring, we ventured into the empty Lilac Room. I bought a skirt – largely to keep their spirits up. Coincidentally we met Robin, the shop owner, a few minutes later in the street. He is desperately worried about his business and reckons he will be closing very shortly. I said I’d come and buy something every week if necessary…

That’s enough for now I think….

Please everyone who reads this, let’s keep in touch, take care, stay well and keep your distance!

And… by the way, stop this idiotic panic-buying.


  1. Angela OCONNOR
    March 20, 2020 / 2:49 pm

    When the weather improves we can have have a drink in the garden, making sure we are 6 feet apart. We too go out to the seafront or Pett every day a walk. And as for constantly being called “elderly”. ………….

    • March 20, 2020 / 2:54 pm

      Yes I agree! Roll on some good weather… and Elderly? Pah…

  2. Jill Fricker
    March 20, 2020 / 4:31 pm

    You’ll NEVER be old, Steph! Yep, once the weather’s warmer, I’m up for some garden meets too, with chairs strategically placed for social distancing purposes on our patio, and big bottles of hand sanitizer and prosecco! I just hope all those lovely little shops and cafes in the Old Town (and all over the world, come to that) survive. (Never mind the Nexts and Zaras – maybe those mass chains have had their day . . .) Ahh, the Cornwall trip looked lovely – we’re supposed to be going there early summer. Fingers crossed. . . I haven’t been back since 2016. BTW, the lovely old winch at the top of the slipway at Penberth, with the big horizontal wheel, was restored in memory of my Great Aunt, Mary Wales.

    • March 21, 2020 / 3:47 pm

      Thanks Jill! Lets hope for better weather, and indeed, some garden meets would be great. Spring has arrived, although the wind is bitter cold today. Do hope you get your Cornwall trip!

  3. Linda Baldwin
    March 27, 2020 / 11:19 pm

    Clive Vale born and bred but 40 years living in Norfolk…….I do enjoy reading your blog and agree with you on so many things! Makes me feel I’m there again. In spirit if not in person. Thank you again for your photos of All Souls.

    • March 28, 2020 / 3:30 pm

      Thanks so much Linda – am glad you enjoy the posts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.