Poor Hastings – floods, fire, pestilence….. what’s next?

Indeed. The last few days have been very difficult for the town. As I write, much of Priory Meadow Shopping Centre is still closed due to the floods, and the main road along the seafront was also closed until midday yesterday because of the fire at the end of George Street.  Pestilence? Well, only the ‘usual’ Covid and now flu filling up the hospital, combined with the virtual impossibility of accessing the NHS anyway.  So what’s next? I’ve overheard people speculating. Locusts? Famine? Well some would say that we have famine already because many people can scarcely afford to eat. Philosopher and I walked down to town yesterday morning to inspect all the various scenes of devastation and I took this photo of George Street – the foam looks like snow.

Here are a few more photos of fire and floods.  I have got all these off the internet or off Facebook, and sadly can’t remember where they all came from – so apologies and thanks to the various photographers.

Looking towards Priory Meadow
South Terrace
Alexandra Park – now a lake

The ‘Hastings Eel’, photographed swimming along the flooded street past Jempson’s cafe in the middle of Hastings caught national media attention. A kind fireman caught it and put it in the sea. The life-cycle of eels, now a critically endangered species, is fascinating and humbling.  Here is a piece courtesy of Patsy Solanki, off Facebook. This eel looks pretty mature, so hopefully the sea was right for it to start its mysterious journey back across the Atlantic to eventually spawn in the Sargasso Sea.

What else?  We went to London on Tuesday to meet David, my brother-in-law.  Had booked what I thought would be a cosy little Italian restuarant near St Pancras for lunch, but it turned out to be incredibly noisy – so many places are these days. Fortunately Battleaxe is not yet at the stage to have hearing loss, but I do think I am more sensitive to noise. Hard surfaces, bare walls, chairs scraping on tiled floors and packed with mostly young people talking at the tops of their voices. Now here’s a mystery… Battleaxe understands that we have an ageing population and that many of us of the boomer-type generation are supposed to be the affluent ‘grey pound’, yet fewer and fewer places cater for the slightly older customer. I know the days of flock wallpaper, thick carpet and velvet banquettes are well gone, but so often even the most elementary sound-muffling steps are not taken.  In the end, we paid our bill early and collapsed into the upholstered olde-worlde splendour of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. Three coffees cost £18 but goodness was it quiet and comfortable… We agreed that next time we met David, we’d go there straight away. You can get a nice bacon sarnie for £20… yes, I know… I’d much rather spend my money in the neighbourhood Italian, but what is a Battleaxe to do?

Talking of the art of noise, last Sunday Philosopher and I went to a ‘coffee concert’ at the Kino Teatr in St Leonard’s. Turkish pianist Birsen Ulucan was playing Liszt’s transcription of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony.  The whole thing lasts for nearly an hour, and I read that it is supposed to be one of the most technically demanding pieces for piano. It was a formidably muscular, impressive performance – massive confidence needed as well as skill, and goodness me could she get forte, forte fortissimo noise out of that piano. One or two missed notes but what’s that between friends with a piece that long and that difficult.  Incidentally, Birsen Ulucan is the elder sister of violinist Aysen Ulucan, who is a regular performer with the Hastings Philharmonic.

Phew, enough. Reading this, it is no wonder that Battleaxe will never be a successful social media influencer – this blog hops about from subject to subject in a hopelessly unclassifiable fashion…




  1. Valerie Poore
    January 22, 2023 / 8:13 am

    Well, I enjoy your eclectic posts very much. As you say, poor Hastings! What elemental ravage you’ve dealt with! As for twenty pounds for a sandwich…yikes! We’ve just come back from Seville where eating out also seems pricey, but the coffee was blissfully cheap. We haven’t seen €1.50 for a cup here in NL for years and in one place it was €1.15 including a cake. You do go to some great concerts, by the way. Lots of culture there in Hastings!

  2. Alena Fellowes
    January 23, 2023 / 8:59 pm

    I love your posts. I went for lunch to Fish cafe in Rye and we had to leave. The noisiest place I have been too for a long time. I could not understand my friend sitting beside me and the banging screaming around! Worse place. Thank you for writing.

    • January 30, 2023 / 5:13 pm

      Glad to read someone thinks the same as me!

  3. Frances
    January 27, 2023 / 5:18 pm

    Sad to see the tough times Hastings has been through recently….. I hope things get back somewhat towards normal soon. Re: your noisy lunch place near St Pancras – I had a similar lunch date in that neighbourhood a week ago and also wanted a quiet, comfy place. I can recommend Rails in the Great Northern Hotel – right there between St P and King’s Cross Stations. https://www.kingscross.co.uk/rails-restaurant-and-little-bar. It’s slightly hard to find – there’s a bar on the ground floor, but the restaurant is upstairs and was nice – sunny and quiet, with a £22 set lunch menu. Not super cheap but perfect for catching up with a friend away from the bustle.

    • January 30, 2023 / 5:14 pm

      Thanks for the tip, Frances – will check it out!

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