The Phallus and The Kraken

Today, we were noticed. The ‘money’ men arrived in town.

A plan of the proposal – as posted on Facebook


Those (wo)men who relish rising, in the guise of regeneration for the good of humanity, to the challenge of raising £500m of tax payers money to finance their latest scheme – those who exhibit megalomaniac egoistical behaviours in feeling compelled to grow their wealth by invading unchartered territories, measure their worth by the size of their bank account and finally, live their lives to further enhance their off shore tally, ignoring that their invasive plans may not be to the wishes nor in the interests of the majority of those tax payers. They can’t possibly conceive of, and have no interest in a community that has other interests, other values, a more altruistic muse. They come, bearing gifts they think we should want, and maybe, to our own design, we might. But, without considering that we are a creative brood, thinking and critical, with our own ideas of what might be beneficial for the town, they foster upon us an idea conceived out of the desire for maximum profit, their profit, with little thought to local values and local needs.

It seems that, at this little pinprick on the map, the people are having too much fun. There is too much joviality and all of it virtually non-taxable. Pirates, bogeys and bonfire men, women and children all rejoicing in life, beyond the reach of the fiscal arm, living and celebrating community by means that are mostly outside of the great capitalist system – they’ve not yet found a way to charge the public for attending a parade.

Jack-in-the-Green celebrations


The people are too self-composed and content, thriving within their own identity, resisting much of the ‘great’ system, turning their backs on the call of the wasteful consumerist con; laughing at the contradictory concept of a rough terrain vehicle that is gleaming pearly white and renouncing the celebrity status fantasy induced by stars and spangles on long nail extensions. Somewhere, there is a people who are resisting, and remaining mostly impervious to the invasive temptations and dictates of the mainstream media. And they think those people need help. Ha!

And, all that… Until today. Today, they’ve offered us regeneration, hoping we have forgotten the pipe dreams fallen by the wayside the last time we were offered a new lease of life, in the guise of a shopping precinct and car park. We sucked up the dream (or it was sucked up for us) of prosperity and fruitful futures for our children and they left us with a capitalist temple in exchange for our central green space and community hub that was the cricket ground: a gift that drained all of the life blood out of the surrounding streets, rendering them charity shop havens. They left us with global institutions that offered up hegemonised lifestyles and minimum wage retail jobs for our youth, keeping them just above the poverty line but maximising profits for the major chain stores that have been here, and stayed, for a while.

Not really experienced to give a fair critique, as I tend to avoid it whenever I can, I’m assuming Priory Meadow shopping centre has failed in its intent to regenerate us as, according to the sales pitch for the marina development, we are still lacking. We are still lacking, yet, who is answerable when such grand promises go unfulfilled? Those that were truly regenerated from the last scheme are so long gone. Can it really be that ‘industry, education, jobs and tourism will flourish’ better this time?

They offer us more homes, more parking, moorings for 600 water craft. How exciting. A waterside apartment. I’m sure we’d all like one of those (for 5 minutes) so we can live near our boats and pop out for a jaunt whenever the weather is fine. What, there aren’t enough for us all to have one each? Well, who will get one then? Local people, you say? Is the boat included? Of course, you can’t live there and earn enough money, locally, to pay for it. The local economy is terrible for that kind of lifestyle – unless you’re a property developer – preferably in to mariners.

And please, before you think Monaco or Abu Dhabi, please visit the wind tunnels and stagnant waters of the soulless urban barnacle clusters that are Brighton and Eastbourne marinas.

They are promising ‘preservation and enhancement’ despite the constant flux of 2,600 extra cars (pearl white for her to get to the nail parlour and black tinted glass for him to go and do ‘business’). Are they promising to preserve the history that is Rock-a-Nore road and the winch road behind? No doubt we’ll be promised that one of the last beach launched fishing fleets in the country, the fish market, the museum, the small local family business fish retailers and the net huts will all be preserved, with an aside that they’ll sit, smack bang, in the middle of the one way system for residents (and tourists… will there be tourist parking on the new complex?) to access their des. res.

Weekend traffic jams on the proposed access road


And, included, at no extra cost to you madam, your own little oasis of even more capitalist temples of global retail institutions. Will this retail competition from global businesses preserve the friendly, non-‘gastro’ , independent pubs and little boutique shops scattered across the old town?

Small, independent traders who help to make Hastings unique.


As for the boast of preserving the cliffs, who could assume to be so powerful as to stop the rain from falling out of the sky? I believe a basic lesson in the geological structure of the local area may be beneficial before running off to central government for financing.

The area, at the base of the cliffs, of the site proposal


Geographically, to site 1300 homes in an area that is already so densely populated, one assumes high rise buildings. The only possible opponent in the vicinity against which to pitch that megalomaniacal need to compete, to be bigger, to dominate, even (or especially) over nature, would have to be the cliffs themselves.

Again, the proposed site for development.


A tower of concrete going head to head with a tower of sandstone and clay – I imagine there is no competition and the sandstone and clay will come tumbling down, especially once they start pile-driving the sea floor to lay the foundations for The Phallus and the arc (not Ark – that’s another story of local catastrophe) with its curvature of the spine, that for me, and in the true style of Hastings’ fun and joviality, although with foreboding of the devastation that will be created, will now be known as… The Kraken.

500 million pounds. Imagine. Just to regenerate Hastings. I’m not sure it would be enough to fully realise a ‘state-of-the-art’ marina and there would be compromises, however, if we thought about what a 21st century regeneration might look like, I’m sure we could be far more creative and relevant Should it be an urbanisation of more of the same: retail outlets and chain store coffee shops offering chain store R&R? No – how is this regeneration when we constantly hear reports that the high street stores are struggling, profit margins are down and people are spending more and more online? How are the investors expecting to get that huge return on their money?

Why doesn’t someone (someone who knows how to raise £500m) make a real investment in the future of Hastings? Why can’t it be non-destructive? Imagine piling that money into digital businesses – we’re a town of creatives – imagine a hub for digital illustrators, film makers, game designers, VR developers – attracting young working professionals to the town – upskilling our own young people. Did you know that the UK creative industries generate £87.4bn a year ( Couldn’t we plan for a slice of that instead? Surely, something more creative, both in conception and in practice, would be a better regeneration for the town. Rather than perpetuating the low skilled jobs for low level pay and the brain drain that happens in this town when our brightest go off to university and never really come back. Give us an honest regeneration that offers a real future with some real ‘state-of-the-art’ concepts .

£500m on a prescribed, publicly funded development that seems only slightly relevant to locals in exchange for a scarred, irretrievably ruined place of natural beauty and scientific interest doesn’t sound ‘state-of-the-art’ in this day and age. Haven’t we seen it all before?


The Walled Nursery, Hawkhurst #4

Last week was the 4th visit to the beautiful Walled Nursery at Hawkhurst for my camera and I. It is such a pleasure to be able to go back and photograph this site regularly; we are in the manic throws of spring here and, what with the toils of Mother Nature and the progress of the greenhouse restoration, every week presents something new to record. The challenge I have set myself is to try and produce photographs as opposed to snap shots of all this productivity.

Which ‘six’ of these ‘pixx’ should I have chosen? I just don’t know.

The old glass
Terracotta flower pots in a heap
Behind the shed
Bygone days
The peach house is out of bounds
Pretty colours and zinc
Left behind
My favourites – often found on the beach.
Seed heads
Through the wisteria
I didn’t get too close to the bee hives.
In the gutter.
Under glass
Breaking out
The ‘wall’
A test piece.
The structure of euphorbia.


Bodiam Tractor Rally

Warning – Post of many photos

Lots of tractor owners got together in Bodium today to rally through the countryside, raising money for the excellent local cause that is St Michael’s Hospice. There was a huge variety of modern, vintage, big and small tractors that made for an interesting, bright and colourful parade.

Probably not the right platform to dump all these photos but I want them in a public space for others to view. Does anyone have any recommendations for a suitable platform for placing large volumes of event photos?

Images have been uploaded at low resolution – get in touch if you want a better quality image, Click on images to see them full size.

Where the dogs lay

It’s been a while. I shall make no more apologies, suffice to say I’m struggling to get here regularly at the moment. However, because Lightroom Mobile has made it virtually instantaneous, I am dropping something into Instagram on a regular basis:  which, for the most part, will eventually make its way to this site.

Some of today’s photos won’t make it to Instagram – they’re too personal. Whoa, how did I make that decision: is my blog a more intimate space than my Insta account? And even, why would I want to put something quite personal into the public domain on any platform? Strange and interesting but I don’t have the answer.

Anyway, spring has arrived, even if temporarily, and we’ve been brave today and faced something that needed doing. Today, Poppy got delivered to her final resting place with strict instructions not to antagonise other family dogs (Loulou and Smiler (Emma)) who already rest there. It’s a good spot, especially in the spring when the wood anemones become bluebells and the fox cubs play amongst the pine and oak tree trunks in the evenings. They were always countryside dogs and it’s nice to think of them there.

Down the wood
Under the oak


Looking up through the pines
Amongst the anemones and with the promise of bluebells
She’ll sleep with those who went before
And by the way – it used to be a hop farm
Where folk would come from the towns and cities
And spend their summers living in Hopper’s huts.


It wasn’t quite the same walking the orchard this week without the little white thing but the weather was fine and the cider brewery didn’t clear all the apples so the colours were resplendent in the autumn sun. It was such a fine day, we extended our walk up to the castle and engaged with the ducks who are always extremely outrageous but highly comical.

Autumn windfalls.
Cider apples that are normally collected by the brewery.
A hardy few cling on for dear life.
Sunshine and cobwebs.
Bodium castle in the sun.
A formidable construction.
The moat ducks are audacious
They always cheer me up.
Lots of new vineyards in the area producing new local wines.
Rushes by the river.
The Bodian steam railway soon to me linked in to the national network.

Last walk around the Orchard

It hasn’t been a particularly good week. After a second trip to the vets with a growth in her mouth and a heart murmur that strongly indicated she wouldn’t cope with the anaesthetic, it was recommended that we make the end easy for her.

Isn’t it ridiculous. Despite being 17 years old, she was still very fit and this was not the outcome I’d prepared myself for. The other half, being country raised and far more pragmatic, had prepared himself for this eventuality. It will be hard for him; they went everywhere together.

Little did we know this was Poppy’s last walk around the orchard – at least she got to stuff that sneaky cider apple before we could get to her. But, who will now nag me for the carrot tops? Poor Molly, not much of a doggy sleep over for you.

Sleep tight puppy dog.



Alleppey, Kerala, India

We took ourselves down to Alleppey (or Alappuzha) with a view to spending a couple of nights on a rice boat in the back waters. Little did we realise that it was a national holiday in India and the place would be heaving. After elbowing our way through the other tourists along the quayside where the houseboats were moored and speaking to a couple of captains, we agreed that it may not be quite the unique, romantic, enlightening experience the guide books would have us believe and therefore, opted out.

The host at our homestay had said he could organise a day with a backwater village guide and so we arranged that instead. And, what a pleasurable experience it was. My only regret is to not have spent more evening and morning time on the water when the villagers are going about their daily chores on the rivers.

Taking his human for a walk
Lucky goat
Going about their business
Converted canoes for the tourists
Waiting to be hired.
Houseboats converted from traditional rice boats – Kettuvallams
Choose your houseboat.
The pollution from boat motors is a little disquieting.
Footpaths and waterways through the villages – away from the tourist trails
So many butterflies but mostly too quick for me.
Our guide and his canoe
Traditional Keralean banana leaf meal at the home of our guide.
The grandchildren of our backwaters village host and his wife.
The grandson having his lunch
canoes in all shapes and sizes
Bathroom accessories
Sheltering from the midday sun.
Family of water buffalo
Local wildlife – kingfisher
All life happens here – quietly.
Serene and calm
Local transport
Washing up.
But I feel they are playing.
Should be bathing…
Daily chores at the riverside for villagers
Bathing for all
Loads of river traffic on this national holiday.
Traditional house boats in a queue.
A big responsibility for a small boy.
Late afternoon on the canal in town.
Boats to service the tourist trade
In town, the bustle is intense.
Retro cast advertising figurines.
Recycled rice bags.
Retro shop mannequins.
The electricity system frightening.

Barcombe Mills

Somewhere in Sussex, over near Lewes, there is a beautiful river running through the weirs and remaining infrastructure of the old corn mill. Next time we visit Barcombe Mills, I shall be sure to take some swimming kit so I can enjoy the wild swimming too.

The last of the poppies.
Pub sparrows fighting for tidbits.
BIG mills stones
Sussex rain forest.
The balancing act.



Bewl Water reservoir

I’d be showing my age if I said I remember my dad coming home from work all excited and driving us all up (a long way in those days – not so now) to see this brand new lake that had recently been created – but I do. Lots of years on and nature has taken claim of the area which is now a beautiful place to take the bike, the dog, the kids – or just go on your own. We did. The other evening. Well, with a camera, of course.

Taking his inflatable SUP board for a walk.
A family enjoying the water.
Bewl rowing club
Getting in some late practice.
It’s a long way back to the clubhouse.
Evidence that autumn is on its way – wild flowers going to seed.
Not much of a sunset today.