Thursday, 17 April 2014

New computer, WI Speaker Selection, and spring flowers

Slight delay in posting, Battleaxe has been somewhat busy. 
     First thing, I have got a new computer. The old one was Windows XP and Office 2003, and had got so slow I could make, and drink, a cup of tea while it lurched painfully into life. I avoided Windows 8, having seen Philosopher's troubles, and got Windows 7.
     All sorts of annoying things have happened, not the least of which is that the faithful old 'Picture Manager' that I used to edit my photos has disappeared. I had to import a special programme, Picture Gallery, which is far more clunky.  Have also had to download the latest version of Word. Grr, it looks so complicated. Why oh why? Why update something only to make it worse, not better.
     Anyway, so far, touch wood, it works.
     Have been busy with other things too. Yesterday I went to a WI Speakers Selection Day over in Northiam, with Marion, one of my WI colleagues. It was a bit like a polite version of Britain's Got Talent. Throughout the day hopefuls stood up and tried to convince us that they should be included in the WI Speakers' Directory.  Unfortunately we didn't have buzzers to get rid of the useless ones - the day would have been over much quicker.  We had: one geezer talking about the history of town criers, dressed in his uniform. Actually he wasn't bad - at least his voice was loud enough to wake the snoozing ladies at the back of the hall. Then some bloke who had hiked round the British coast for charity, worthy but yawnsome. Then  a woman who looked like a games mistress barking at us about grizzly bears - no. Then a nice young man talking about beachcombing on the Sussex coast. I thought it was really interesting, my colleagues not so much unfortunately.
     Then, after lunch - a nice ploughman's made by the ladies of Northiam WI, the ultimate horror. A seedy bloke who sang to a small guitar. He addressed us as if we were residents of a care home, with song choices to match. Don't get me wrong, I like the Andrews sisters as much as the next woman, but when the song is prefaced by:
     'Which of you lovely girls remember these lovely girls? Eh? Of course you do.....' No, No. Considering the group of women right in front of his nose had an average age of 30, I didn't think he was trying.
     Then another nice young man from Batemans talking about Rudyard Kipling.... and so on.
     I was sitting with Marion and a fun group of women including two from Wonky WI based in St Leonard's. We had a good laugh.
     Today we had two Philosophers in the house - one of Nick's former students came by with his wife and two little children. No philosophy was discussed however - the call of the beach was too strong. 
     Finally, of course, the weather has been just fantastic, and I have been outside gardening. To try out my new IT capacities, here are some pictures of flowers currently in bloom chez Battleaxe. Tulips have been excellent this year.

Dicentra - one of my favourites

Vibrant pink tulips

Even more vibrant orange tulips, with pansies

Osteospermum. It is perenniel here in Hastings

Blowsy yellow tulips

Unusual Australian mint bush. This would only have survived indoors in Birmingham

A wash-tub full of red tulips

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Natural Sculptures on the Beach

Where we live, the sea tries as hard as it can to move the sand and pebbles down the coast to enlarge the vast pebble wasteland at Dungeness.
     Seaside towns try to stop this by building groynes, or breakwaters.
     Did you know that the strict definition of a groyne is a structure running down the beach and out to sea, while a breakwater runs along the beach, parallel to the shore?
     Over time, the constant beating of the sea against these structures grinds them down into fantastic shapes. Different coloured bits of rope and net tangle themselves around the wood, and small stones get stuck in strange places....
     The weathered wood has inspired and intrigued many artists and photographers. Here are some of our pictures, and a few paintings of local scenes by artists we like.
Rye Harbour

Rye Harbour

Pett Level

View of Eastbourne

Dilapidated groyne in blue sea - Eastbourne

Pett Level

Winchelsea Beach

Winchelsea Beach

Winchelsea Beach

Winchelsea Beach

Winchelsea Beach

Rather rude? Winchelsea Beach

Winchelsea Beach

Rye Harbour


Pett Level - I like the stones stuck here


Paul Nash - Dymchurch 1935

John Piper - Littlestone on Sea 1936
Paul Nash - Winchelsea Beach 1934

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Two London Exhibitions - De Chirico and Artists Textiles

Had a lovely spring day out to London. One of the last days of catching the train to St Pancras - the Charing Cross line is now apparently fixed, after several months.
    It is a funny journey on that line - a bucolic - and slow - diesel chug across Romney Marsh, stopping at Winchelsea, Rye and Appledore. Oast houses on the hills in the distance, mist, sheep, herons and egrets standing at the edges of the ditches. Then all change at Ashford to the HS1 which hurtles up to London in 38 minutes. Talks are going on about extending the fast line to Hastings - not in our lifetime, methinks.
    Our first stop was the Estorick Collection, in Canonbury Square in Islington, to see a small De Chirico exhibition. We have been there once before - it is a lovely old house set in a pretty garden - unexpected for north London.   The permanent collection is Italian art, and mostly Futurist Italian Art to boot - very esoteric (heh heh).
The Estorick Collection Gallery
    The De Chirico show was small, but interesting - to be honest, I have never known much about him. I know he was born in Volos, Greece (we stayed the night there once) and his style is mostly metaphysical, but I don't really understand what that means. There were a number of his sculptures, many of which seemed to be either ancient Greek looking draped figures with bits of ancient temple, or couples sitting together with their innards on show. Here are a few examples:

De Chirico - The Architects

De Chirico - Hector and Andromache

De Chirico - don't know the title

Large statue?
    We had lunch in the nice little Italian tea-room at the gallery, took a stroll down Upper Street, and then caught a bus down to London Bridge.
     A few weeks ago Philosopher met Anna in London and they went to an exhibition called Artists Textiles at the Fashion and Textile Museum. He said I'd really like it, so we went. It was indeed fabulous. I had no idea that so many great twentieth century artists also did fabric designs. Some of the fabric was just stunning.
They also showed it made up into wonderful vintage clothes, including Horrockses 1950's dresses. When I had my retro clothes shop in Birmingham I had several of these on sale - I hope no fabrics by great artists, because I would have priced them at a fraction of their true value.
     The Fashion and Textile Museum was founded by Zandra Rhodes, and is always worth a visit. It has a lovely little cafe and a great shop - we had tea and scones after our visit to the exhibition.
      Then it was back to St Pancras, whizz down to Ashford, then far too many people crammed into the  over-short diesel for a hot and sweaty pootle back to Hastings.
Salvador Dali - Spring Rain

Saul Steinberg - Paddington Station

Graham Sutherland - Snowdrops, Horrockses
Picasso - Musical Faun 1963
Eduardo Paolozzi, Horrockses dress 1953
John Piper - Chieza del a Salute 1963
Andy Warhol - Melons 1963
Circus - John Rombola
Joan Miro