Friday, August 26, 2011


Yesterday we took the bus to Eastbourne. We sat upstairs on a double decker because about half of the ride is lovely, with beautiful views of the sea and downland. We will not speak of the other half of the ride.

The COG and I think Eastbourne is hilarious because we once heard it called 'the UK's largest open-air hospice,' because of it's reputation as the seaside resort for the elderly. Whereas Brighton's seafront is swinging, artsy, full of clubs and drunken youth and tacky seaside shops, Eastbourne's is dignified, with lovely gardens and the air of an exclusive nursing home. There are, indeed, many many elderly here.

These benches line the seafront in both directions and encircle all the paths in the extensive gardens. Each one of them has a memorial carved in the back: 'For Enid Harbuckle (1898 to 1992) who loved this place' or 'For Rose Clampton (1912 to 2001) Missed by her family' etc. There is something so sad and sweet and rather comforting about it.

We had tea in a building overlooking the sea and it really really felt like a nursing home. Many people in wheelchairs or zimmer frames looking out at the sea while drinking tea. Everywhere there were big signs cautioning people to mind the step etc. By the entrance there was an area for parking of motorized wheelchairs.

In the ladies bathroom, though, there were lots of stickers saying 'Testing Free, Treatment Free, Let's make East Sussex Chlamydia Free.' This made the COG and I giggle hilariously as we looked around at our fellow sea-gazers, quipping that they must be more swinging than they appear.

The seafront of Eastbourne is beatiful, though, with a number of lovely Victorian hotels and beautifully kept gardens. Much of the seafront is owned by the Duke of Devonshire which has kept developers of seaside tackiness at bay.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Postcards from Brighton

This is how our days go: we spend the morning in our 'loungewear' reading in the front room. At some point we realize it's too late to go out before lunch, so we eat lunch at home and then we go out. We have been to The Pavilion to see an exhibition of Regency Costume called 'Dressing To Excess'. It was small but good.

Another day we went to the Brighton Museum, which is in the former stables of The Pavilion. There was a terrific exhibition about Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant's work, as well as more costumes and various other stuff. We are hoping to get to Charleston, the summer home of the Bells and the Bloomsbury Group now run as a museum.

We've taken quite a few walks along the seafront. We walked to Rottingdean again, along the cliff tops this time, and then inland to see the pretty little historic center of the town. Rottingdean was a big site for smuggling during the years when luxury good were being smuggled in from the Continent. I'm curious about this, but don't know much else about it.

Yesterday afternoon we went to Lewes. The COG did 6 months in a practice there when he was training. The practice was in Castle Lodge, which is built within what was grounds of Lewes Castle - immediately to the right just out of view in the picture. At that time the castle wasn't opened to the public, but it is now. so we visited it.

It was really very interesting and a good 'beginner' castle. Lots of stuff for kids to do, but also it's got an interesting history. The land was granted to one of William's earls a man named de Warenne, right after the conquest in 1066. De Warenne became one of the richest and most powerful men in the world at that time. He was worth nearly 100 billion pounds in today's money. He began the castle immediately after the Norman Invasion and he and then his descendants expanded several times within the next couple of hundred years. It was one of the few castles not ruined by Cromwell's men, so although it's not intact completely, it is a bit better than most.

At first there de Warenne built a motte with a wooden bailey and stockade but this was soon replaced by stone keep and walls. Very unusually, there were two mottes, the first wooden one which was later fortified and a second one built in stone within a very few years of the first. The mottes are two hills with buildings on them both of them enclosed in one large wall. The part that's open today is the higher of the two hills and the only one with castle left on it. You can see the other motte - it's an odd flat hilltop, but it's not open to the public. The views of the countryside from the top of the existing castle are fantastic.

The castle saw real action, unlike most castles. In the Spring of 1264, Simon de Montfort, the father of the English Parliament, defeated Henry III at the Battle of Lewes on the weald just below the castle. Henry, who held the castle, surrendered to de Montfort in May or June of 1264. Then, the following January, de Montfort called the first parliament, which included not just nobles but also representatives of every shire and town.

De Montfort was killed in another battle, the Battle of Evesham, in which King Henry III regained his power a few months after this first parliament.

One of de Montfort's captains - I've forgotten his name - fought on as a rebel in Sherwood forest for some years until his capture. He is thought by some to be the origin of the Robin Hood story.

We also walked around Lewes, which is a lovely town, and visited the misleadingly named Anne of Cleves House Museum. Anne of Cleves got the house as part of her divorce settlement, but probably never visited it. It's a 15th century yeoman's house - a MacMansion at the time it was built. It's just a lovely old house, not that large by today's standards but full of interesting construction details.

So that's it for now. We are having a laid back and pleasant time. Today, we are going to walk downtown to go to the Farmer's Market in the city center. And then walk home. Exciting.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What do we do in Brighton?

Our kids have asked what we do when we are in Brighton and it was rather hard to answer. What we do is hang out, which is kind of unspecific. So I am going to try to record our activities. We arrived Monday and, having traversed the sofa in the hall, we entered our apartment and just looked around to see what, if anything had happened in our absence. Not much, apart from the sofa in the hall, so we were pleased. We unpacked and made a cup of tea, using the ultra pasturized milk we had left the last time just so we could make this first cup of tea. Then we napped for a couple of hours. Cranky got up before me because the upstairs neighbor knocked on our door to try to explain the sofa. When I got up we walked about a mile to a little grocery store (there were many that were closer, but this one was new and we were curious and needed exercise) and then walked home again to make lunch. It was probably 3 by the time we ate lunch, but jet lag.... Then we took the bus downtown to buy a couple of things (a radio and some space bags - boring)

The COG made dinner and we sat in the living room and read until we both started to fall asleep at about 9 and we went to bed. I slept like a log that night but the COG had trouble sleeping.

Yesterday, we got up at about 8:30 am and made breakfast. We had only bought enough groceries to last us through breakfast, so, after breakfast, we walked to a different, bigger grocery store about 3/4 of a mile in the opposite direction. Bought groceries and carried them home on foot. We could have taken the bus, but we like walking. In the afternoon, we took the bus into town and wandered around the North Laines - a kind of hippy district with lots of interesting shops in it. Then, we walked home again - another mile and a half or so. Went to bed after midnight and I couldn't sleep but the COG slept like a log. I finally fell asleep in the wee hours and slept till 10:30. I kind of regret that, but it's jet lag.

After breakfast hung around reading. I finished a mystery on my Kindle and then read the Guardian subscription the COG has this month on his Kindle. Lots of exciting juicy tidbits in the Phone Hacking scandal. Which I love reading about - it's a sort of victimless crime, unlike all the other depressing things in the news. But with people in high places about to get whats coming to them.

After lunch, we walked to Rottingdean and back (about 2 miles each way) on the UnderCliff Walk. It's an overcast day, but bright and warm enough to be comfortable in a short-sleeved top. It started to rain lightly on the way back, but we made it home with no damage.

Now we are at a pub - The George, about 2 blocks from our flat. Free wifi and expensive beer. This morning I made arrangements for us to have internet in the flat. Don't know how long it will take, but I hope we can arrange to have it done while we are here. In the meantime, I've had 1 1/2 pints of bitter and a packet of crisps, in addition to the wifi. So it's not an entirely wasted visit.

So, in summary, what we have done since we got here is ... not much. We've walked around and hung out.


We've arrived

We arrived on Monday, late morning. It was a completely uneventful flight, although for some reason I was more tired than usual when we arrived. I slept most of the way from Heathrow on the bus. Usually, I like to walk from the bus station because it wakes me up and I can see everything, but I was too tired to do anything but take the city bus from the station. We got to our flat, unlocked the front door into the common area and this is what we saw:
Yes, that is a sofa completely blocking the hall to our flat (our door is on the left at the back). We climbed over the sofa with our luggage and entered our flat. One of the new owners from upstairs woke us from our nap a little later to tell us that they bought it and it didn't fit and got stuck and that it was going to be taken out - in a week or so. Yes, that's right. We are still having to walk over the sofa when we enter or leave. OK, it's a fire hazard not to mention inconvenient for two people over 60 with groceries etc. but we don't want our first contact with our new neighbors to be unpleasant, so we are living up with it.

Update: After living with it a couple of days,and getting over jet lag crankiness, we think it's hilarious. And instead of thinking of it as a fire hazard, we are considering that it is a great deterence to burglars. Plus, it's really made us more flexible to have to go over it several times a day so it's like a free fitness plan.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Goose Photobomb

Here's a goose photobombing Miss T and Little Miss A, who were having a picnic at a farm near here.
This farm reminds me so much of my grandparents farm.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


My lovely next-door neighbor brought me 10 pounds of wild blueberries from Maine. Because the berries are fresh, I had to use them quickly. So I've made several pints of Blueberry-Lemon Jam and Blueberry Muffins and Blueberry Oat Bread and 2 Blueberry Pies (I froze one and cooked the other) 2 Jam Tarts and last, but not least, some yummy Honeyed Blueberry Frozen Yogurt. All the remaining berries have been frozen in 1 cup portions.

I am by no means complaining, but ten pounds of blueberries are a lot of blueberries to deal with in one day.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Work In Progress - Dining Room Wainscotting

Here it is: the project for which I needed the nail gun. I've added wainscotting to three walls of the dining room. It's not done, yet. It needs another coat of paint and some sanding, but that's going to wait until we decorate the whole room this autumn. The wall color will change as will the furniture layout. More about that later. Now we are going to enjoy ourselves with Daughter of, who is bringing Miss T and Miss A to visit tomorrow.