The Last Bank Holiday of the Year, August 2017.  #holiday #Hastings #beach #festival #music #Boyzone #weekend

What better way to spend the bank holiday weekend than down on a British beach, with summery British weather & a wild mix of British people all having a thoroughly good time. Everyone entertained by Hastings Old Town, spending their English pound and speaking in their English tongue, turning pink and trying new things. Watching and observing, or taking part and letting go.

The weekend started with a big Boyzone concert on Hastings Pier. Ronan Keating and fellow Irish lyrical lads were singing till late, out at sea, under an orange moon and far from the madding crowd. Girls were ecstatically happy, the boyfriends were less-than pleased.

Safe parties on the beach, picnics, swimming, sailing, church-bells, wrapped fish and chips to individual tapas, it can be original or fancy, working classy to posh and arty.

Everyone is welcome.

By next week this pebbly beach will be a desert, not from stones to sand but from lots of people to very few. But it won’t be long before we can fish out and dish out a new festival, The Seafood and Wine Weekend, in 3 weeks, for example: the celebration of British wine and seafood; a feasting festival, with plenty of live music and tipsy-ness.

Wherever you are in Britain, I hope you’re taking full advantage of the last, long bank holiday of the year. It is still summer, despite an early crop of apples, signifying a shift into autumn.

Hastings is merely a stone’s throw away from London… lots of things have happened since 1066…

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Old Books & Old Ways #AnimalFarm #GeorgeOrwell #books TheBookkeeper #Hastings #GrahamGreene #authors #writers #papers

It was a fine day for strolling, and a finer day for finding. 

Tucked down Kings Road in St Leonard’s on Sea, minutes from Warrior Square, the planted green gardens, fronting the English Channel with a statue of Queen Victoria, whose name became the late 19th century adjective to many houses of this area (‘Victorian’) lies the second-hand bookshop: The Bookkeeper.

With one look, I was hooked and reeled in. The book, sitting attractively in the window, ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell; a classic read and this particular book holding as much of a tale on the surface as the story inside. 

ANIMAL FARM, cheap edition, GEORGE ORWELL. 3s. 6d (3shillings and 6pence)

‘The publishers will be glad to send you from time to time descriptive lists of the new books which they publish. If you would care to receive these lists please send… your name and address on a postcard…’ (yes, do you remember postcards?)

This edition (see below) was published in 1950 by Secker & Warburg of Bloomsbury, London WC1.  

‘Animal Farm’ was first published in August 1945. By January 1950, George Orwell aka Eric Blair would be dead at the age of 47.

Cheap Edition was a term used during the War era of publishing, and sometime after, when book-paper was used sparingly and economically, although it must be said, between the fingers the quality is of a good standard.

‘Animal Farm’ is referred to as ‘A Fairy Story’ and as ‘a good-natured satire upon dictatorship.’

Being the sixth edition of the story, means the publishers invite you to ‘see back of jacket for Press opinions.’

Graham Greene, in 1945 aged 41, is literary correspondent to The Evening Standard, and takes second billing of 7 Press reviews. He states: “If Mr Walt Disney is looking for a real subject, here it is: it has all the necessary humour, and it has, too, the subdued lyrical quality he can sometimes express so well. But it is perhaps a little too real for him? There is no appeasement here.”

And finally, ‘To Mother from Michael, June 1951.’ 

This, too, is why we have books. To place names and dates and sometimes a message on a page that secretly says, I found, I bought, I give, I care, I love, I read and I get lost in another world. Old books, their ways and what they say.


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Kate Barnwell, Lyrical Writer for The Hastings Independent Press: http://www.hastingsindependentpress.co.uk

May-Day Merry-making #May #bankholiday #green #tradition #Spring #festivals #flowers #Hastings

This year May Day falls on the First of May, not since 2005 have the two come together so poetically. If you are a Morris-man or woman you will have been up since dawn, dancing and rejoicing, celebrating the release of Spring.
In Hastings Old Town, the capital of the East Sussex culture scene, we have gathered flowers, greens and specially-made wreaths to adorn our streets (Hawthorn blossom is called ‘May‘ because it will be picked at this time of year) and long, colourful ribbons to dress the houses, shops, pubs, cafes and churches.

 Bells, bangles, bikers, green men, green women, drummers, fiddlers, singers and sweepers, one and all prepare for the Jack in the Green parade, winding its green garlanded way around the old streets and on to Hastings Pier for more dancing and revelling.  

Everyone will be ‘a-maying‘ from sunrise to sunset. A Spring holiday of feasting (on local organic bread), drinking (on the local pub’s homemade beer) & cheering the most spectacular May Parade. 

Hooray! This is Hastings, no battles here. It’s alive with ‘ye olde world’ tradition and armfuls of green hugs. Come be merry-made…

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Cliffhangers #books #cliffs #EastSussex #NationalTrust #reading #adventures #cliffhangers

Are you on the edge of your seat with a good book?

May I recommend: The Case of Aleister Stratton‘ by K.G.V. Barnwell 

http://www.aleisterstratton.com

http://www.katebarnwell.com

Also available worldwide on Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com

The photo below shows The Seven Sisters of East Sussex, the white Chalk cliffs of the Sussex Downs. The landscape, seascape and cliffs-scape are all protected and proud sculptures of British culture. The crumbly bright white cliffs are chunky slabs of cheese sandwiched between two beautiful blues: the shimmering sea and the celestial sky.

All the people look so small, even those long reflections on the rocks below, bottom right.

You make recognise this view from a National Trust calendar or from the film ‘Atonement

Best to find your cliffhanger in a book and view these cliffs from a safe spot.

Happy reading, happy adventures.

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Highlighting the Highlife in Hastings  #Hastings #Battle #1066 #celebration #October #fireworks #bonfires #parades

From the 8th to 16th October 2016 the Old Town of Hastings, East Sussex is celebrating & commemorating the great Battle of Hastings that took place 950 years ago exactly on 14th October 1066.  

There will be two enormous parades:

1. Come dressed as an Anglo-Saxon or a Norman warrior and join the fight for a feisty procession. Friendly weapons of the 11th century variety allowed.

2. Fire breathers, bonfire societies, and drummers join forces to light the East Cliff beacon and rumble through the old town wielding burning torchlights, culminating in a gigantic 🔥Bonfire on the beach, and a spectacular 💥 Fireworks display above the black skies of the English Channel (perhaps even visible from France over 20 miles away).

Also…. 1,066 people will be taking on the 17 mile foot race following the 1066 country walk from Pevensey (where King William landed) to Battle (site of his famous victory).

This 950th anniversary will be an eye-popping (sorry King Harold) momentous occasion – its been sitting in the calendar waiting to explode onto the scene for many-a-year. 

Now we’re warming up because here it comes and Hastings Old Town (the most extraordinary place in the world) has it completely covered. 

Prepare to be amazed at what a town can do!

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January Joy comes flowing in #January #poetry #England #NewYear #quotes

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Continued from yesterday…

Poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, ‘I Stood on a Tower’ (1865)

‘Seas at my feet were flowing,

Waves on the shingle pouring,

Old year roaring and blowing,

And New Year blowing and roaring.’

Tennyson wrote to his lifelong friend and poetry editor, Francis Turner Palgrave:

“What a season! The wind is roaring here like thunder and all my holly trees are rolling. Indeed, we have had whole weeks of wind.” 

Here we are in January 2016, 150 years later, a new wind whips up the waves, stirs a restless sea and rustles the senses.

‘The gulls to the sky, went soaring

The waves, heavily churned, came falling

Whipped to the tip, spilt on the beach

A hundred horizons for us to seek

Today, tomorrow as the days flow

Bathe thousands of places for us to go

At home, for rest, we safely stay, until

The leaning winds send us far away

And just like birds, who leave awhile

We’ll each return to our worlds and smile.’

KB, 2015/16
Take the first week of January calmly: ‘J‘ for Jolly, for Joy, for enJoyment.
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Fancy a swim? #NewYear #Lifeboats #charity #sea

On New Year’s Day, precisely 3 weeks today, the 1st of the bright 2016 Year falling on a Friday, hearty Hastings folk like to take a New Year sea dip (this is when I show my London side and profusely refuse to remove even a sock).

All in good faith and despite the sign below, bathing takes place, money is raised, and a donation to the ‘Lifeboats’ (RNLI) charity is given.

Everyone makes a brief, but splendidly supportive effort, a swig of whisky is included, warm towels lie in wait and enthusiastic cheers abound.

I recall one member of the party covering himself in organic goose fat “to lock in the heat” … 

“Yes, but when did a goose ever swim in the sea? Incidentally does a goose cluck or quack? If the fat doesn’t work, try feathers instead!”

It will be interesting to see who turns up this year for the swim, I’ll wait for the warm Caribbean and a cold piña colada …perhaps…perhaps…perhaps…

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Neutral Ground #poetry #sea #EastSussex

The British coast line of East Sussex

 
What is it about the land known as a beach or the coastline?  It seems to possess some kind of unexplained magic within the human psyche and soul.

A vast, free space of solitude and magnitude and belonging to no one but he who seeks its solace.

Observe the Cretaceous cliffs, 120 million years old (twice the more famous Jurassic period) crumbling with a countless battering of strain and strife.

To live as free as a bird and as wild as the wind, winding itself up into a swirling whirl of dizziness, is momentarily wonderful!

In one week I came across two British poets, Laurie Lee and Sir John Betjeman who have both described the sea as ‘neutral.’

Laurie Lee (from ‘As I Stepped Out One Mid-Summer Morning‘) stated his position at sea as “a salt stung neutral nowhere.”

Below in the engraving of Betjeman’s verse he is jubilant, joyful and comforted by the freedom of the sea.

Perhaps in the sea lies Neutrality and in Neutrality lies Peace.
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My Boy Jack #poetry #quotes #remembrance

On 27th September 1915 (100 years today) Rudyard Kipling‘s son John was killed in The Battle of Loos.

‘Have you news of my boy Jack?’
Not this tide
‘When d’you think that he’ll come back?’
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

At first he was seen limping on the field of conflict and believed to have been taken prisoner.

“I trust that your great anxiety may be allayed by definite news of his safety soon,” wrote John’s commanding officer. No such news ever came.
Kipling conducted a 2 year search in vain for news of his son. His grief, the same desperate grief of an entire nation (a nation burning with sadness, drowning in tears, sick with pain) was expressed in poetry and in many voices.

‘My son died laughing at some jest, I would I knew
What it were, and it might serve me at a time when jests are few.’

From September 1930 Kipling instigated and funded the nightly sounding of The Last Post at the Loos Memorial where his son’s name was inscribed.

One, Lost in a foreign field. One, Loved in a family’s heart. One, Poppy.
Remembering all those who gave their life in The Great War (1914-1918), commemorating its 100year period.

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Day and Night #Equinox #poetry #time

The 23rd September 2015 is the date of the Autumnal Equinox, when day and night are of equal length.
In Hastings, East Sussex the sunrise is 06.45 and the sunset 18.55.
Drive 59 miles north to central London and the sunrise is 06.48, the sunset 18.58.
At night the moon is half full, by day we are struggling for sunshine; there is a grey light by which to live, however today is purposefully bright and sunny!

By small degrees every day is altered, although we can never tell these slight variations. In a week from now the days will be shorter and the nights longer and on occasion this will be noticeably more defined.
Whether you are enjoying a totally absorbing life or finding each day harder and more complicated, remember to take things as they come, all things pass…

All things pass
A sunrise does not last all morning
All things pass
A cloudburst does not last all day
All things pass

What always changes?

Earth… Sky… Thunder…
Mountain… Water…
Wind… Fire … Lake

Theses change
And if they do not last

Do man’s visions last?
Do man’s illusions?

Take things as they come

All things pass

All Things Pass
Lao-Tzu (6th century BC, translated by Timothy Leary 1920-1996)

This may be a poem, a prayer, a statement, a short speech, or even a personal prescription.
Whatever it may be, it is essential communication: the means by which all things pass.

This Sceptered Isle

Within an hour’s drive, I was here in East Sussex at one of the most beautiful places that define England – the outline of the cliffs figure her beauty; the strength of her curving shores; the magnificence of her wide lands; the clear, wispy skies and the deep, dense divide of the English Channel. It is on this land great speeches, books, plays and poems have been dedicated…

‘This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself…
This precious stone set in a silver sea.
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.’

from Richard II by William Shakespeare