Hastings / Bodiam

Saturday Afternoon

A weekend in Hastings to celebrate my sister’s birthday was never going to be quiet but we had a cracking time.

Saturday was not  very nice weather wise, grey and cool. It didn’t matter much since we spent some time wandering down George Street browsing the shop windows  until we met up with my sisters friends. Then we whiled away some time loafing in  Ye Olde Pump House, a pub which looks much older than it really is.

 That’s if the old gent who harangued us outside can be believed. Anyway, it’s old enough and was very popular even when I used to visit back in the late 60’s. Had a couple of pints of Early Bird, a really tasty brew from Shepherd Neame.

A pale golden beer, with floral aroma, Early Bird is full-bodied and takes its name from the Early Bird variety of East Kent Goldings hops, grown in hop gardens near the brewery.

It gets my vote and certainly seemed to live up to the brewers description which I have quoted above.

Due to much gassing with my sisters friends, time passed rapidly by and we ended up spending more time in the pub than we had intended. This is what happens when you are having a good time. We were supposed to be having a meal before going on to a show. In the end we had to by-pass the meal and  sprint to make the show.

We were going to see Chas Hodges, you can read my post on that HERE

Sunday – Wow ! What a day out !!!

For Sunday we had chosen to get together with my other sister and had arranged to meet up at Bodiam Castle. The weather was fabulous, blue cloud free skies and beautiful spring sunshine.

Bodiam Castle is in a wonderful setting, sat as it is on an island reached only by the bridge across the moat.

We meandered around the perimeter of the moat enjoying the warmth of the sun and the attentions of the many ducks. Sis decided that she would become the Birdwoman of Bodiam and broke out the butties. She was immediately surrounded.

Once they knew that she was a buttie free zone they abandoned her. Cupboard love I believe it is called.

We continued to tour the castle surrounds before heading inside. Here are a few facts that I have dredged up. Bodiam is a 14th Century construction. It was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge who apparently was one of Edward IIIs knights. It was intended to defend the area against those nefarious French during the Hundred Years War.

Those pesky ducks get every where, especially when they think there is food to be had. You only have to dangle your arm over the bridge railing and a collective shout of “incoming” goes up.

Of course, what goes up must eventually come down…..

Once we were across the bridge we were met by a most unusual couple. We were accused of using the devils machinery and of stealing their spirits but they were quite friendly really and welcomed us into the castle courtyard

While we were there the locals were telling of the castles history hence the unusual attire. This fellow was the main orator.

Bodiam is a “pretty” castle now and it doesn’t take much imagination to see what it would have been like when it was first built.

It is possible to get many different perspectives of the castle.

After much strolling and climbing we found ourselves to be a bit peckish. So we took ourselves across the road to the nearby pub. Strangely enough it is called the Castle Inn

We were surprised to find that there were outside tables available and sat ourselves down for a spot of lunch. Considering this was 1st April, to be sitting outside to eat was a rare treat. The food was good and we didn’t have to wait too long and it was hot when it arrived. By a happy coincidence this pub was also serving Early Bird which was a suitable lubricant for the meal.

While we were having lunch we were treated to the spectacle of a helicopter coming into land on the pub lawns.

After lunch we walked up to the railway station. All day we had been seeing the smoke and hearing the whistles of the steam trains.

When we arrived at the station we determined that the next train would be arriving within a few minutes and duly positioned ourselves across the road and the level crossing ready for the steamer we knew was coming. Imagine the big disappointment when we were presented with this…..

Yup. A diesel loco. OK it is a piece of vintage rolling stock but it wasn’t what we wanted. Never mind, as they say, there is always next time. After taking a look at some of the old goods wagons at the station we headed back to our cars.

Drove back to my sister’s house for a cup of tea and some superb lemon drizzle cake. All taken while sitting outside in the sunshine. I still have to remind myself that this was the first day of April.

A fitting close to a fantastic day. All that was left was for us to drive the 90 or so miles home. I didn’t need any rocking when I hit my pit.

Did Chas Hodges Pull A Rabbit Out Of His Hat ?

On Saturday evening my wife and I, along with my sister, visited the White Rock Theatre in Hastings.  The entertainment for the evening was to be Chas Hodges, he of Chas & Dave fame.

The theatre was nowhere near full. The potential capacity is 1066 people but there were probably only around 60 folks putting bums on seats.

At around 19:30 our bizarre evening began.

If anyone made an announcement I missed it but a bunch of guys walked out onto the stage and took up positions. The band started playing but I had no idea who we were watching. All I could tell was that they were apparently doing cover versions of Lonnie Donegans songs. After a couple of numbers, the lead singer started regaling us with anecdotes liberally sprinkled with “my dad did …” and “when my father…” and so on. Suddenly the penny dropped, we were being entertained by Son of Donegan.

Well of course he did all the standards and we had a sing along and tapped our feet but, even back in the day, Lonnie Donegans voice was a bit of a trial. I wouldn’t, by choice, listen to one Donegan record followed by another. Peter Donegans voice is very similar to his dads. I liked the instrumental breaks best of all as they are all very competent musicians.

Apart from the vocals the other big detractor for me during there performance was the two dickheads in the row behind ours. They paid good money to see a show,  then proceeded to talk all the time. Strange thing was that they shut up when the music stopped. Anyway, I couldn’t put up with their incessant chatting (note I avoided using the term” rabitting”) and asked them if they were planning to carry on through the whole show. After being asked twice, one of them said that yes he probably would. After a long glare from me they quietened down a little but they never did totally shut up.

So Son of Donegan finished their set and the lights came up. The chatterbox and his friends went out, presumably for some lubricant because his throat was dry. We all had an ice cream.

As I said earlier there were only about 60 people in the theatre. We were 8 rows back from the stage and there were only 17 people in front of us so we decided to move away from the noise. We moved two rows forward. Apparently the people to our right had also gotten fed up with the talking and they had moved to the right.

It transpired that we didn’t need to move as the chatterboxes never returned.

And so, on to Chas.

Well he and his band came on and it was just like Chas & Dave. He did their whole repertoire along with some tracks from his new CD. My view is that he can’t sing for a toffee. It was like being in a pub listening to a bar room singer. Just like with Son of Donegan the best bits were the instrumental breaks. Even some of them left a lot to be desired. One piano break prompted me to mutter to my wife “Come back Les Dawson, all is forgiven”. Where the Donegan anecdotes were all surrounding “my dad”, the Hodges anecdotes were liberally sprinkled with “when I was playing with Jerry Lee Lewis”. Where Donegan was quite eloquent Hodges was not, tending to mumble and stumble through his stories.

Maybe I’m being hypercritical and, just maybe, he would have been better had there been a bigger audience for him to feed on. I was entertained and it really was better than spending an evening watching TV.

But only just. The highlight for me was that I was out with my wife and my sister.

So in answer to the title question…..No !!!

View From The Conservatory

Just a brief entry today. Two flight related pictures.

Shot snatched as the whirly bird flew over this morning. Probably of dubious quality since I haven’t checked it in a darkened room on a decent display but what the hey.

The following shot was taken from my seat in front of my puter. I didn’t dare move as the crow would have flown away.

As taken from the camera, no editing and am quite pleased considering that it was taken through double glazing at an angle of 60 degrees or so. Reflections suppressed courtesy of the polarising filter.

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