A walk to the west of Bexhill

November 22 2020 – Bexhill-on-Sea.

A further week of lockdown has passed without incident. We cannot really do anything much so passing without incident was to be expected. The weather was good the last week. It has not been too cold, nor has it been too windy and wet; not compared to last Sunday and the storm anyway. I even managed to get out for three 30 minute lunch time runs, which was the second time in the past few weeks. These are the first runs I have done in an absolute age and they were not particularly pleasant. I intend to do more in the coming weeks…

We have had a good weekend; not that we did much with it, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. We decided to go out of town for a walk today. We walk the Hastings and St Leonards seafronts most weekends, and often during the week, so it was nice to stroll somewhere, at least slightly, different.

We have walked to and from Bexhill a number of times, the walk along the seafront only takes 90 minutes. However, we have never walked westward out of Bexhill towards Pevensey and Eastbourne. It is a different type of walk and I would call it a lot more ‘local’. Rather than a touristy seafront of flats, guesthouses, hotels and shops there are houses hidden behind fences and buildings on behind walls on top a small ridge over the sea front. There are some of the best and the widest range of beach huts I have seen.

There is nothing specific here to visit, so I suspect most of the many other walkers lived nearby. There were a lot of dogs and small children about, which suggests that. We much enjoyed the walk. There were a couple of properties behind walls that made them look like Second World War fortifications, or maybe cold war bunkers.  These were definitely my favourite. Concrete was king when a lot of these were made.

I wasn’t intending on taking photos, though I did have the little camera in my bag, just in case. I ended up taking quite a few, it was that sort of walk. The variety of beach huts and the walls leading up to houses were fabulous, the light was wonderful and the clouds played their part in some lovely afternoon scenery.

An off-the-cuff walk in a place that most people won’t bother with. This is what I do and love. I should do more of it.

Stormy St Leonards seas.

November 15 2020 – St Leonards-on-Sea.

And so, just like that, another month has passed. More time that didn’t go anywhere, but gone nonetheless. Lockdown 2, the not quite as good sequel to Lockdown, started on 5 November. Given the country’s feeling on going back into lockdown I am a little surprised the events of 1605 did not come back to haunt this government. I suspect they were taking the mickey locking us down on Guy Fawkes night. Maybe they just hate fireworks as much as I do.

We went for a walk into Hastings yesterday, Saturday, to pick up some fresh fish and a few bits and bobs as I wanted to cook something different for dinner; Malay fish with black bean sauce. It was as good as it sounds. It was a nice day for a walk, even though it was windy and autumn, the sun was out and it was not cold. It was jacket and t-shirt with no jumper type weather.

I noticed that it was just past high tide when we walked and as the weather was turning stormy over night I started getting a little excited about the possibility of another windy high tide photo walk in the morning.

When we woke up the weather had not disappointed and it was howling out there. YES !!!

Wrapping up for the rain I packed the 5d camera and a couple of lenses and we headed down the hill to the sea front. I was very excited, child in a sweetshop excited as we walked down the hill and I could see the sea was roaring angry. In my head I was wishing Eleanor to pick up the pace, though it is only a short walk from home to beach. Patience is not my middle name in circumstances like this.

Last time we had this weather I walked up towards Hastings and into Bottle Alley, this time we chose to walk in the opposite direction towards West St Leonards and into the face of the howling wind blown rain. We were drenched in minutes. It was great. I used both the 70-200ml and the 16-35ml lenses, though changing lenses was a fraught affair.

We were both surprised and not surprised at the amount of people out walking and taking photos. These storm and high tide combinations are magnificent and there were a lot of Instagram images later in the day. There were a number of runners as well which was more of a surprise, it would have been hard work!

Photography was hard too, the rain was heavy and wind blown, so I was constantly wiping the lens clear, the wind was not helping with steady images either. I didn’t get as many good photos as I wanted, but I did get a few that I liked. My favorites are these three taken from inside one of the shelters on the promenade as the worst of the rain hit. The sea was very close!

As we were walking up the hill towards home I noticed I could clearly hear everything that Eleanor was saying to me. The thunder of sea, the howl of the wind and the rain hammering on our coats and the ground made it quite difficult to hear anything as we were walking just a couple of hundred of metres away. It was great being able to share the joy of the experience as we walked.

I loved having the big 5d camera back; all clean and repaired, except for a broken USB connector which means I cannot download the photos off the camera. I have ordered a CF card reader, but it is not due to arrive until later in the week so it was a little disappointing having to wait really see the photos I took.  I very much enjoyed taking photos again.

I quite like this rather abstract image of the roof of the house below and on down to the sea taken out of my closed bedroom window at the end of the day, with the window reflecting back the yellow light of the room. 

Taken out the open window with no light reflection.

Upnor Castle

October 13 2020 – Upnor Castle, Kent.

I love a castle and this is the first opportunity I have had to visit one in quite some time, and not just due to Covid. After the disappointment of not being able to get to, let alone get in to, any forts yesterday I was quite excited when I found that Upnor Castle was actually open today, the second of my two day road trip around the Isles of Grain and Sheppey in Kent.

There were plenty of Covid restrictions in place; masks must be worn in all areas, some things were roped off so you could not touch them and there were crosses and arrows all round advising of the correct path to take around the castle and its grounds. I was the first visitor for the day, and for most of my visit had the place largely to myself. A situation I particularly enjoy.

I parked above the village and had a short, but nice walk down this cobbled street to the river front, more reminiscent of Devon and Cornwall than Kent.

The construction of Upnor Castle began in 1559 under the order of Queen Elizabeth I. It was built to help defend the Chatham Boatyards on the other side of the River Medway. As you would expect the fort has undergone many changes and expansions over the years, and was finally called into action in 1667 when the dastardly Dutch sailed up the Medway to attack Chatham and the English fleet that was sheltering in the river. The military action has been described as the worst naval defeat the English navy has ever experienced, with a large number of vessels being destroyed. Upnor Castle was one of the few highlights of the action and the Dutch were finally sent packing.

After the action the English government decided to build further and stronger forts along the coast out toward the North Sea and the castle ended up becoming a storage magazine for gunpowder and shells. It was owned by the military until the end of World War 2 when it became a museum and was opened to the public.

It is now run be English Heritage, and I was pleasantly surprised it was open on an autumn Wednesday.

This graffiti from 1596 was discovered during WW2 when a German bomb landed nearby, causing the plaster to fall off the wall revealing what was hidden behind.

One of the features I love in an English Heritage museum is the mock up.

The castle is pretty small and there is not a huge amount to see and neither is there a spectacular view from the ramparts. It looks out on blocks of flats and cranes on building sites for more blocks of flat on the other side of the river in Chatham, but I did enjoy the 30 minutes I spent walking around, all masked up.

I really liked this stairway, leading down to a lovely dank and mossy tunnel.