It had recently stopped raining and the stiff breeze was driving the clouds across the Channel. The large building is Marine Court , and the pier can just be seen peeking above the shingle.
I took a walk through my local woods to take these pictures. It was cold. When I took this picture the moon appeared much larger when I looked at it with my naked eye. This I’ve learnt is an optical illusion, as explained on this webpage.
Although I’ve been on the East Hill, Hastings many times in my life, I’ve never really thought about it’s history, despite there being the remains of an Iron Age fort sat right on top of it. Whilst researching something interesting to write about the East Hill, I found this 2008 survey by English Heritage which provided me with far more information than I expected. Needless to say nothing world changing has ever occurred there, but the hill has been used in various ways across the centuries.
The picture above shows the beacon which is lit every October during Hastings Week by the Hastings Borough Bonfire Society. I stands on a barely noticeable mound, which apparently was once the site of a round barrow. According to the survey this place was used for burials in Iron Age times. Occasionally bones are found on the beach below after parts of the hill slip into the sea.
The view above has been photographed for over 100 years. It is interesting to make the comparison between the two photographs and see the changes that time brings.
As the sun rose, the windows of houses began to reflect it which I have tried to capture here. You can just make out the shadow of the East Hill in the lower right part of the picture.
Here is the Iron Age fort. It has probably had many uses in it’s time, but it is now used for barbeques and underage drinking sessions. You can get a better idea of how the fort is laid out from the overhead picture found in the English Heritage survey on page 9.
If you walk around the firehills you may come across this memorial bench. It makes a good resting spot for those that have climbed the steep hill to get there. I think these benches are a better memorial than a gravestone. They are in the public eye at all times (at least to those who can be bothered to walk there) and serve a useful purpose. The wording on this bench expresses how loved Margaret Sutton was, more so than many other memorial benches which often say something like ‘he sat here quite a lot’ or something similar.
The Firehills are to the east of Hastings, near to Fairlight. The Firehills are probably named after the gorse bushes that are common there, either because of its alternative name – furze, or because gorse burns easily or both!Â It is part of Hastings Country Park and offers great views across Rye Bay, as shown in one of my previous posts. The picture above shows the Coastguard Station and cottages, most of which are now privately owed.
This was taken from the cliffs at the southern edge of the park. The cliffs are eroding, and there are regular land slips all along this part of the coast. At Fairlight several houses have been lost to the sea, although major defenses have been erected to prevent that, which can be seen if you view the Google map link above, and follow the cliffs east wards.
In my last post I said that the castle is one of the key visual features of the town. Visitors travelling by train are greeted with this scene as they exit the station. It almost sums up Hastings in one view with the fishing boat, the castle and a mix of modern and old buildings. I have omitted the ugly 70’s office block (which is where I work) that is just to the right of this view!
Bulverhythe Beach, which lies between Hastings and Bexhill, is the site of an old wreck and a prehistoric forest. They can only be seen a low tide however so I didn’t photograph those, no doubt I will return to do so.
After what seems like weeks of murky weather the sun finally made an appearance. It had to burn through the mist dwelling in the valley where the River Rother passes through Newenden, but of course that creates a beautiful sunrise.
Whilst looking for photo opportunities on the river bank a man with two labradors, one brown and one black emerged from the mist. The dogs said hello and muddied my jeans then disappeared with their owner into the mist. Some time passed, and shrouded in the mist I felt quite alone. Sound travels well in the mist however and I heard two spashes, clearly the dogs had leapt into the river. Then I heard the owner:
(In an assertive voice) “Ben! Ben!, get here. Ben! Get here now. Good boy”
“Bill!, Bill!, Bill!, get over here. Bill! BILL! BILL! COME ‘ERE!”
(In an angry voice) “BILL!, BILL! Right, that’s it, come here NOW! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL!
Gradually the owner descended to pleading to get Bill to come in from his swim: “Biiiilll, Pleeease! Biiiillll!
My parents haveÂ always owned labradors. We’ve never had one that came back until it felt was good and ready, and it was amusing to hear someone else lose the battle of wills with their labrador.
A photo of the St Julien Memorial, Belgium
Of course Armistice Day is not just about conflicts of the past, but those still happening. This website, iCasualties.org provides almost real time updates of every casualty suffered by the Coalition forces in Afghanistan. It makes sobering reading, especially when you add the estimated 14,000 to 34,000 civilian deaths to that toll.
A Soldierâ€™s Winter
What is this cold?
Where is this white
Is this real, or just a fleeting moment of life, of my life
I see no longer the greens and reds,
Where have the autumn leaves gone?
This must be the first signs of a new winter?
I see trees, I see sky, I see clouds,
All winter white,
Can I reach upward to touch the falling flake?
I try but never seem to connect,
And as I lay there staring at the sky
is my body cold ?
As I lay I hope I am not forgotten
But here I am alone.
I close my eyes and try to think of home
is this really happening to me?
This isnâ€™t real this is only a dream
I never have felt this way before, cold, weak and exposed,
but strangely at ease
With a tear I draw my parting breath
Iâ€™m looking down on my body below
I understand now this is winterâ€¦.this is my winter
Chris, a soldier serving in Afghanistan
Poem found on www.warpoetry.co.uk