Back in Hastings… Hello Villa Belvedere!

Villa what? Yes, you heard right… our house has gone a bit pseudo-Italian. You may rightly think it is a bit naff but do you know what? Battleaxe really doesn’t care. We have been back from our travels about a week now and I have been alarmingly busy, with outings to meet friends and a day in London, but mostly with creative writing. Getting on with my novel, and preparing poems for the forthcoming Stanza Group anthology, which I am helping to produce… oh, and me and my friend Jan met Jesus in the Old Town High Street – twice.

Ever since our front garden viewing/sitting out platform was built in 2021 I have been imagining it as a sunny Mediterranean terrace – a viewpoint – nay, a Belvedere –  up at the top of a hill on the Amalfi coast, looking down to the Med. There we’d sit, shaded by our brolly, sipping campari sodas.  Well, OK, I know this is not Positano and our view of the sea takes in much uninspiring Hastings housing development, but with its fancy railings, trailing geraniums (in summer) and view there is something faintly Italian about our platform. In Sorrento last September I thought I’d like an Italian style house plaque.  We went round town asking the ceramic suppliers if they could make one in time for us to take it back, but no chance, so one had to be ordered specially. Philosopher got it me for Christmas, but he only just put it up yesterday – one of the first warm sitting-out days we’ve had.

One thing about having a 70s house is that you can pretty well do as you like with it. They are blank canvasses. I’ll never forget, back when we were viewing this house back in 2010, I hissed over-loudly to Philosopher ‘We could knock this place about and make something of it,’ I was overheard by the then owners – very house-proud –  who never spoke to me again. Sorry house, you were exactly what we wanted, we did knock you about and you’ve done us well so far, but to be honest you don’t have much character. So, if Battleaxe wants to pretend you are an Italian villa, so be it.

Here are a a couple of photos from 2021 would you believe, showing a sunny scene. Of course, today, the weather is just evil. Not quite Positano.

Creative writing? I have probably said that I go to a novel critiquing group, and it was meeting the Monday after we got back from Spain. I presented one of my chapters. One of the group members is related to a police pathologist, and I discovered that the police procedure following a death by poision – don’t worry, prospective readers, no spoilers here – is much more drawn-out than I anticipated. So – rewrites necessary… Still, even with the plot characters evolving and going off in rather unexpected directions, I have written half the novel – 40,000 words. I need to get the rest written quickly, then I can go back and refine.  It’s a funny business for me. When I am away from my computer my brain is full of ideas what for what I am going to write next, but as soon as I sit down here at the keyboard with a couple of hours to spare, my mind goes blank and next thing I know, I’m scrolling through Twitter.

Poetry-wise, we had a meeting of our Stanza group on Thursday, which meant getting a poem into shape for the group to workshop. I am part of a little group putting together an anthology of the group’s work. So far, we have about 13/14 poets contributing.  We each are putting in three poems, plus a little paragraph explaining how being part of the group has helped shape the poem.  Have also just signed myself up for a BBC Maestro poetry course with Carol Ann Duffy…

Jesus? Well, it’s many years since I wrote a blog post about the Hastings Good Friday procession – goodness, back in 2014. We were much taken with it back then. There are some good photos in that linked post. It is still going on, with breaks for the pandemic of course, but has completely dropped from Battleaxe’s view. Had even forgotten it was Good Friday – it is just one other in a tiresome sequence of bank holidays for me. So, walked down to town with Jan, heading for a coffee. Were just on the High Street, heading for The Nest, and along comes Jesus, carrying his cross, followed by a large crowd. Couldn’t take a photo – it would have been too rude. We shamelessly dodged across the road right in front of him and elbowed our way through the Roman soldiers and assorted biblical mourners. Then, a while later, we met him again. He’d obviously recovered from his crucifixion and was posing for photographs outside the Bonfire Society pop-up fundraising shop. Jan and Tom volunteered in that same shop the next day – here is Tom, busking in the street.

Finally – a spaghetti poodle disaster. I got a large (rare 23″ size) poodle from Ebay. It had a broken and re-glued neck already, so fortunately I paid very little for it. You can see the break in the picture below. It was sent, very well packed indeed, via Hermes/Evri, but arrived like this…


















That company is a disaster – despite the parcel being clearly marked fragile they must have been throwing it around or dropped it, on its head, from a great height to cause so much damage. I have had the odd one with bits broken off before, but absolutely nothing, ever, as bad as this. Philosopher, bless him, is attempting to stick it together. How lucky I am to have him.


1 Comment

  1. Valerie Poore
    April 14, 2023 / 7:54 pm

    Lovely post, Steph. I’m glad you had a good trip away, but yes, you’ve been busy! I enjoyed reading about your various doings. I like repairing ceramics myself, but that poodle looks to be quite a challenge. I’d be interested to see what philosopher makes of it!

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