What is Hastings Battleaxe?

Hastings Battleaxe, was ‘born’ in December 2011, when Stephanie Gaunt moved from Birmingham to Hastings with Philosopher, her husband, to start a new life by the sea. Initially, it was meant for our old friends and family in Birmingham, and also as a regular writing exercise, a sort of on-line diary, to get the author through the stressful moving in and settling-down period. However, it became a habit and is still going strong.

The posts are mostly about life in East Sussex, centred on Hastings. However, Batttleaxe and Philosopher travel a good deal, both in the UK and abroad.  Battleaxe is insatiably curious about far too many things – reading, poetry, collecting, local affairs, the state of the nation, clothes, art, food, nature, theatre, music…. so, the content of the blog is eclectic.

Fishing boats on Hastings beach

Hastings Battleaxe does set out to be honest, but that means the posts do include the expression of some strong opinions – well, she wouldn’t be a Battleaxe otherwise, would she?  Although it means to be light-hearted and a bit tongue-in-cheek, inevitably, sometimes readers sit up and take notice!

Hastings Battleaxe also promotes the particular strengths of older women like herself. Invisible? Moi? No chance.

Apart from one or two spectacular ‘blips’ which we won’t dwell on (including one national media storm – wow), the blog was/is never a viral internet sensation, but has a squad of loyal readers. Traffic has increased steadily month on month since the blog started. The blog had passed 235,000 views when it migrated from Google Blogger to this ‘grown-up’ site in January 2019.

In 2014 Hastings Battleaxe was included in the New Writing South ‘Good Blog Guide’.

Who is the Battleaxe? 

After a varied career in human resources, counselling, running a training and consultancy company, running a vintage clothes shop and finally as a consultant working in social housing, Stephanie Gaunt ‘retired’ when she arrived in Hastings – but is now as busy as ever.

Stephanie and her husband Nick Dent live in a 1970s house overlooking the sea in the Clive Vale area of the town – done out, as far as possible, in mid-century modern style. Digby, the food-obsessed rescue cat, lives there too.

She has a daughter, a grand-daughter and two grown-up step-children.  All the children live a long way away – daughter and grand daughter living in Portugal, step-daughter in Bristol, and step-son in Santiago de Compostela.  No, he is not in holy orders, he is a theoretical physicist, working on gravitiational waves.

By the way, for anyone who wonders why Philosopher is called that, it is because that is what he is/was – he is a Professor (Emeritus) of Philosophy.  He worked at the University of Birmingham and has published several books on Rousseau.

Stephanie started her writing life young, with many unsuccessful attempts to write novels.  On moving here she joined the Hastings Writers’ Group, and was on the group committee for three years. In 2013 she was the group’s ‘Writer of the Year’, and in the same year helped the group win a national anthology award with her editing work on ‘Animal Writes’, a charity anthology.

A while ago Stephanie turned her writing efforts to poetry, joining the Hastings Stanza group, which she very much enjoys.  In 2014 she won the national Women’s Institute Lady Denman Cup for a poem about the WI, and has had various other low-key poetry successes. In 2019 she published a collection of her poems to mark a Big Birthday. It was illustrated by local artist Danny Mooney. Profits from the collection went to charity.

The Women’s Institute has been a big part of Stephanie’s life. She joined shortly after moving to Hastings as a way of meeting new people, and did a gruelling five years as President of the Hastings Ore Women’s Institute, and also five years as a Trustee of the East Sussex Federation of WIs.  This included editing the monthly East Sussex WI News.  Although she doesn’t excel at, or enjoy, the traditional womanly arts of cooking and craft, she is involved in WI activities such as gardening, a book group, and walking.

Most recently, she has been a Trustee of the Friends of the Conquest Hospital, and does something weird for the Hastings Foreshore Trust.

Writing-wise, she is currently hard at work on yet another novel. This is a whodunnit – based on guess what? The WI!.

Battleaxe enjoys walking, shopping, junk hunting, eating, reading, classical music, general hanging out with Philosopher, gardening, lying on the sofa watching telly, and going out and about. She collects all sorts of things, including1950s Italian pottery spaghetti poodles and cats, vintage Murano glass, 1950s lucite blocks with fishes inside, vintage clothes, handbags, shoes…..

Spaghetti poodle and cat collection