Sunday 15 June 2008

Days Out

A couple of days out were planned for when I was away last week, visiting my family. It is bittersweet, going 'home'. I say home, because it is where I grew up, and where I return, quite regularly, though of course my own home is here in Cornwall. Bittersweet, because my Mum died very unexpectedly about 18 months ago, and 'home' is no longer the place it was. My Mum was the glue that held us together - she was vibrant, energetic, a gardener, cook, very accomplished horsewoman, adored mother and grandmother. A force to be reckoned with, and sometimes quite formidable! She is sorely missed by us all. I still expect her to walk in the room. So it's not easy, being there without her.

Days out are a chance to spend precious time with my sisters. Whenever I go up, G and I put a day in the diary to go off somewhere - we want good coffee, shops, thrifting, food, somewhere with charm. Last time we went to Lewes - to search out Caroline Zoob (a bit of a disappointment. The shop is now closed, and the website is more inspiring) and Bill's Produce Store. This time, we pondered between Hastings and Whitstable. We even had a mad moment when we thought we could do both in the day, but that would mean we did neither justice.

So Hastings won....but we did stop off on the way in Forest Row - there's a wonderful Village Crafts shop, selling Rowan and Artesano Yarn, needles, myriad art supplies, cards, you name it, they stocked it. There's also Bramble Corner Toy Shop, selling traditional toys and sweets (I couldn't resist purchasing a quarter of aniseed balls), books and moleskines. We then stopped at Nutley Antiques - a great source of vintage enamelware, textiles and garden stuff at very reasonable prices.

I should add that my sister is the ultimate shopper when it comes to interiors-type shops, and clothes. I am a mere bystander, trailing along in her wake! So in fact, we didn't even get to Hastings until 2pm....

The two places on our list were Made in Hastings and Judges Bakery. Made in Hastings is a wonderful quirky shop selling locally-made crafts - cards, toys, bags, gifts, ceramics and more.

It's well worth a visit. The stock is really inspiring, and a little different from the usual stuff you seem to see everywhere these days.

I wanted to go to Judges Bakery to check out the food and bread. The bakery was taken over, and subsequently completely overhauled, by Craig Sams and Jo Fairley, the founders of Green and Blacks. It's wonderful - great breads, sweet treats, local vegetables and other groceries. I defy you to come out empty handed! The thrift shops are also worth visiting - keen prices, and a few good finds. I have to confess it was also nice being driven - a sunny day in my sister's soft top, though I can't say I'd rely on the sat nav...coming back had a few more twists and turns than necessary!

Our other day out was to go to my eldest sister's degree show. After a major career change, she's about to graduate in Furniture Conservation, Restoration and Decorative Arts at Bucks New University. We went along to see the pieces she has worked on in her final year, which included a beautiful sewing box with a hand-printed paper lining. Part of the original lining was missing so she had to copy and re-print it by hand. The attention to detail and effort applied to each piece was inspiring. G and I also went and looked at the textiles show, which was beautiful. There were some stunning hand-printed silks, and fabrics layered with stitching, sequins and other embellishments. Photos were banned, but we did pick up the students' cards.

These are my favourites:

Today I walked up on the moor for the first time in months. In winter time the ground is very wet and waterlogged and is to be avoided, so it becomes a summer place for me. Blue skies and a clear view to the sea reminded me why I love it so much. Shortly after the dogs had cooled off in the stream we came across an adder basking in the sun, blocking our path. Fortunately I was in front and grabbed Walter's collar before he spotted it. Bessie, who's much older and slower, was quite a way back, bringing up the rear. As I kept hold of Waltz, I reached for my camera with my free hand, but I wasn't quick enough, the snake slithered away into the undergrowth.

Adders are very common here, though it's quite rare to see them. They have a very distinctive zig-zag pattern down their back. For a dog, an adder bite is potentially fatal, so I was very relieved I came across it before the dogs!


alice c said...

Thanks for all the information about Hastings - I will have the chance for a day out there at the end of the month and I look forward to to checking out all those shops.

dragonfly said...

Sounds like quality time spent with your sisters. I went to Whitstable a couple of weeks ago and was very disappointed to find most of the shops closed (it was a Wednesday), but the weather was against us too...
No2's mission in life is to spot Britain's only poisonous snake - another good reason to come to Cornwall?

kristina said...

We really enjoyed our baguette yesterday. Now we'll definitely have to visit the shop in Hastings! Thank you so much for all the wonderful Hastings hints. Looking forward to visiting both Lewes and Hastings this summer. K x

Pipany said...

Gorgeous blog Diana. So full of lovely things that I wish I had gone on hol with you! Beautiful shops full of beautiful things are always good to visit. Glad the cordial worked for you - we seem to be living on it! xx

Anonymous said...

I love Lewes! Looks like you had a lovely time! Hastings looks like it has gone a bit more upmarket since I was last there as a child. Growing up in Sussex I had many days out in either Hastings or Brighton, although then Hastings was very much the poor relation to Brighton! I remember going to see sticks of rock being made from molten sugar and a rather nasty accident involving a large undulating slide. I still have family in East Sussex that I am planning to visit soon - maybe I will give Hastings a second chance!

Sally Anne said...

What a wonderful post, and I think I am going to be in Hastings in late July, so I will be able to check out your favorite shops..thank you so much

Tracy x said...

oh how lovely to see Hastings x
before moving to Scotland we lived between Hastings and Tunbridge Wells so it was wonderful to see your pictures x
love, love, love Made - did you go to Up the garden path?
i hope it is still open - only a few doors down from Made.
as for Judges - yum!
as a Vegetarian, i miss Judges A LOT!!!
i could get so much veggie stuff and all my Ecover products in there, and the Olives!
glad you enjoyed your visit
speak soon
t x

Exmoorjane said...

I only popped over to thank you for your comment on my Bruce blog! But have been following links and having to stop myself hauling out my credit card and generally having a lovely time! You have inspired me to hunt out some graduate shows (when I lived in London I often bought some fabulous pieces by students but have lost the habit). Lovely blog. And yeah, Bruce is simply the best!!!

Ali said...

Oh, that looks like my kind of shopping day. Hastings eh? Must put it on my 'go to' radar.

Anonymous said...

Ah, hello, am a Hastings ite myself, just moved here a year or so ago, must add two shops to your must visit list; Trinity Whole Foods in the town centre, lovely, lovely veggie foods, and i-candy, a new little shop and arts centre on Queens Road on the way to the park. Oh, and eat@clarement, our local lovely cafe has now taken over the cafe in Alexander Park so you can get gorgeous coffee in the park now!
n.b we like to think of ourselves as the quirky friendly relation of Brighton!!