Sadly the last few weeks are nearly gone

Trip Start Apr 09, 2009
Trip End Aug 30, 2009

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Where I stayed
With Claire and Paul

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Only four days left, I can't believe it!!  The time seems to have flown by.  It has been just wonderful being with Claire, Paul, Kristina and Alex in St Leonards and with Penny, James, Emily and Nicholas, the five weeks previously - as in my last blog. 

Ed left to return to South Africa at the end of July and I stayed on my own in Soberton until the family returned from their holiday in France.   We spent a leisurely very pleasant few days together in the quiet of the Meon Valley after the family had left, Ed doing most of the cooking too.  He has become quite an expert in the kitchen, his speciality being baked salmon steaks wrapped in bacon and veggies.  Its really good, he will certainly be taking his turn in the kitchen when we are home! 

It was good to have Penny, Jim, Emily and Nicholas back again, they enjoyed their week in France very much and had great weather, lots of swimming and surfing.  During my last few days with them, we took Nicholas and a friend to swim in the river not far from the house, they wanted to wear their wetsuits and had great fun splashing around and enjoying the water as little boys do.

A few days later Penny drove me to Lewis where I caught the train to St Leonards to spend the remainder of my time with Claire and family.   The journey to Lewis is very pretty, lovely countryside and views of the South Downs, it was also nice to have the time chatting to my eldest daughter.    A sad farewell to Penny, a short train journey and once more I was back in St Leonards with Claire and family, staying less than a kilometre from where I was born!! 

At long last I was beginning to feel better.  I received a lovely welcome from Claire, Paul, Kristina and Alex and we had time to do a few things before I left on my last leg home.  Claire took the children and I to visit Rudyard Kipling's last home at Bateman's in East Sussex.  It was a glorious sunny day and after a scrummy picnic lunch, we really enjoyed walking around the gardens and exploring the house.  From the National Trust site on the internet ....

''Rudyard Kipling bought Bateman's in 1902. He and his American wife, Carrie, had discovered the house two years earlier but had been too slow in deciding to buy it and it was let before they could close the deal. When the house came on the market again in 1902, they had no hesitation and bought it along with the surrounding buildings, the mill and 33 acres for £9,300. It had no bathroom, no running water upstairs and no electricity but Kipling loved it. 'Behold us, lawful owners of a grey stone lichened house - A.D. 1634 over the door - beamed, panelled, with
old oak staircase, and all untouched and unfaked. It is a good and peaceable place,' he wrote in November 1902. 'We have loved it ever since our first sight of it.''    The house is ....
  • Left just as he left it, reflecting the author's exotic oriental tastes
  • Original illustrations for The Jungle Book, drawn by Detmold brothers
  • Delightful gardens run down to the River Dudwell and a working watermill
  • Kipling's 1928 Phantom 1 Rolls-Royce
It was a most enjoyable day out, and we drove back via Burwash a pretty village nearby where my Aunt and Uncle lived for sixty plus years.  They both also worked at Bateman's after their retirement.

One evening when Claire and I were on our own we went to Bexhill for Moules et frites (Mussels and Chips) at Cafe Belge and then walked along the promenade it was such a lovely still evening we passed quaint little cottages which back onto the promenade, on warm summer evening it did seem an idyllic place to live, but possibly not during winter gales and storms.

We stopped to look at the De La Warr Pavilion which also backs onto the walkway, and which I remember from childhood.  It has been redecorated and with its changing coloured lights over the domes it looks great.   

'Commissioned by the 9th Earl De La Warr in 1935 and designed by architects Erich Endelsohn and Serge Chermayeff, the De La Warr Pavilion was the UK‘s first public building built in the Modernist style. Pioneering in structure as it was in spirit, the purpose of this steel and concrete Pavilion was to provide accessible culture and leisure for the people of Bexhill and beyond and so regenerate the economy of the town and the surrounding area. Seventy years
later, an £8 million restoration and redevelopment project has enabled the De La Warr Pavilion to fulfil its original ambitions whilst creating new aspirations for the building and its visitors.   Following its re-opening in October 2005, the Pavilion has:
  • One of the largest contemporary art galleries in South East England
  • A fine auditorium with a capacity of 350 - 1250
  • Roof and ground floor terraces, including an award-winning bandstand
  • A first-class café, bar and restaurant with outdoor sun terraces
  • A shop specialising in books and merchandise on arts and culture
  • Indoor and outdoor spaces to sit, relax and enjoy panoramic seaviews.
Interesting, things I never knew.  I shall go back there next time I visit this area.  It would be nice to see a show there.

During the middle of August, friends came down to visit or invited me to have lunch with them,   So lovely to see my local friends again.  Carol came down to lunch from Curtison Green in Kent
and Alex offered to cook us lunch.  He wants to be a chef one day and is really good at cooking, he made us his own special recipe of tomato sauce and pasta.   Carol and I enjoyed it very much.

Another afternoon Claire, the children and I all went fruit picking on a farm at a little place called Hooe near Bexhill.  It was great, we started off picking red currents, then raspberries and on to strawberries.  Lots of fun and eating the ones that were too ripe to keep, they have had a good summer and the fruit was beautiful.  See pics!!

A few days later Pat invited me for lunch in Sissinghurst so I caught the bus with Tilly to Hawkhurst where Pat kindly met me.  The journey was an hour and a half, very pleasant, through Battle and lovely countryside.  We had a delicious lunch in the garden followed by a walk around the lakes at Sissinghurst Castle.  Again it was a lovely day and both Pat and I as well as Tilly enjoyed the walk.  Sadly we did not have time to go around the Castle gardens which we did last year.

The following week I did a similar trip to have lunch with Ann at Sissinghurst (she had been ill the week before otherwise we would have all had lunch together).  Except I took a different bus and went via the village of Bodiam with its famous castle, very relaxing through pretty country.  Ann met Tilly and I from the bus at Hawkhurst and we drove to Sissinghurst; once again after a lovely lunch out on the patio, we took Tilly for a walk.  This time we went through the orchards and woods, old haunts where I used to take our dog when we lived in the area and I worked at the local school.  Come rain or shine we always walked at lunch time and often after school as well. It was another trip down memory lane for me as we used to walk Tombi there and before her Leia, Ed and Jay have also worked for the local farmer Ed fruit picking in the orchards and Jay planting baby trees which now ten years or so later are well established and loaded with apples.   It was another lovely day and Pat called in to have a cup of tea with us as she only lives a few doors away.  Sissinghurst is such a lovely friendly village.

A bonus visiting Sissinghurst is that its very near to Cranbrook (where we used to live) and Claire and Paul have an Interior Design business in Cranbrook - Bell House Fabrics - so Tilly and I are always able to get a lift home!!  

The next treat was to have Emily and Nicholas to stay for a few days and then I would have four of our grandchildren together!   We had such a lovely time with them and the weather was good too.  We took them to the beach and all swam in the sea, except Kristina, at fourteen that was rather boring!   On the way back form the beach we walked through a small park near the beach which has the most amazing old trees, perfect for climbing, the kids loved climbing almost to the top, I didn't quite reach the top though, I think my age is against me going that high!!  Ice creams and the walk home for supper.  A really fun day.

All four cousins get on very well despite the difference in ages, Kristina and Emily are lovely together and I think Nicholas looks up to Alex who is four years older.  They had great fun in the pool here, and I managed to get a few photos of them together - always difficult.  We all went off to a very modern playpark, me with camera at the ready all the time and from there to Hastings Old Town for hot chips.   It was another warm evening too;  Hastings is known for its good weather it actually has better weather than most other parts of the country, luckily for us.  We walked along past the famous net huts right to the end where the high cliffs looked down at us.

''Net Huts - Old Hastings taken from Hastings online website   .......

The prominent net huts on the beach in Hastings Old Town are made of clinker weather boarding and stand an average of 25 feet high. These unique wooden buildings were originally used as workshops and storage for nets, sails and ropes. In 1934 the Borough Council restricted the area allowed for each net hut to eight square feet because of the limited space between the cliffs and the sea. To overcome this problem the fishermen built their equipment stores upwards to maximise the allowed space and constructed three stories, one above the other.    About 45 of these unique structures can still be seen today and they are considered one of Hastings most famous and internationally known landmarks. Many more were originally built but have been destroyed by strong seas during the past 150 years. The council also demolished some during the 1950's to clear the beach area for development.   With the advent of nylon nets there was less need for workshops and the buildings main use became storage. The remaining net huts are still used for this purpose today and are regularly maintained to withstand the elements.''

Home from the beach with tired happy children.  Penny arrived that evening to spend the night with us before taking Nicholas and Emily back with her the following day.  It was so sad to have to say goodbye as I don't know when I will see them all again.   We had a lovely morning together and the kids enjoyed the pool while Penny and I had coffee on the patio.

My last Friday Anne (another friend Anne!) came to fetch me so we could have lunch together in Battle - at Cafe Belge, they have another restaurant there, really nice.   I have known Anne all my life as my Morther and I were evacuated during the war to Mayfield to live with Anne and her mother, well except that Anne was only born during our time there being two years younger than me, so we do go back a long way.  Lovely to see her and catch up on news especially our respective grandchildren.  That's the most popular topic of conversation when you reach this grand old age - our grandchildren! 

Claire, Paul, Kristina and Alex all went off for a few days holiday and the weather was great.  I met Julia and Richard on the beach a couple of times over the weekend for a barbeque and swim, good to top up the tan too it was so hot.  The sea was very warm, in fact it was 20 degrees which is warm for the English Channel!  On the family's return it was time for me to start packing and for them to do some sorting and tidying in the house as they have Kristina's pen friend coming from Germany for three months plus her whole family are coming for a couple of days to see Carolyn settled in, when I mention they have six children you will understand why there is quite a lot of planning to do!!

While I was spending my last week in St Leonards, Penny and family were sleeping on the boat on the River Hamble whilst the children took part in Splash Week, days of competitive sailing for 5 to 17 yr olds.  They are split up into various age groups and really have a great if exhausting e.
time.  Both Penny and Jim are on the rescue boats and watch the children participate, they both did extremely well, Emily won a cup and Nicholas came third in his group, most of whom are older than him.

I had my last day's outing on Tuesday, when the friend I grew up with came to fetch me (and Tilly of course) for a day at her house on the outskirts of Hastings, near Fairlight,  Once again - am I being too boring? - the weather was good and after lunch (sea bass fresh from the fishmarket!) and tea on the patio we took Tilly for a long walk across the hills and cliffs at Fairlight.  Another favourite walk. 

On my last afternoon we went into Hastings for afternoon tea at Waterfalls, tea for Claire and I but a hot chocolate treat for the Kristi and Alex, a little last minute shopping for me. 

Now its packing and deciding what to leave behind!!  After five months travelling I seem to have accumulated quite a lot.

Thanks to all my friends who entertained me and fetched and carried me.  Also of course my thanks to my daughters, son-in-laws and grandchidlren who put up with me for a few weeks and who gave me so much.  Well both of us while were there.  

My next blog will be short and from home the final notes on my trip........  bye for now ...

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