Thursday 2 October 2014

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

Right then pop pickers, ready for the next installment of our escapade darn sarf?
Recognise this place? Yep, it's Prospect Cottage, previously home to Derek Jarman the film maker, situated on the slightly otherwordly place known as Dungeness. 

He managed to create a garden in an ostensibly barren and inhospitable environment. Now he's no longer with us, appearances suggest there is no longer the will to keep it up in the same way, but it still felt magical to see it in real life.
Dungeness is a very distinctive environment, apparently the largest open shingle beach in Europe. It's a weird mix of discarded fishing paraphenelia, massive moody skies and an ethereally utilitarian beauty created by the odd mix of Heath Robinson type buildings randomly dotted about. 

I found it charming and compelling. It reminded me of my idea of places like Newfoundland. Separate and romantic in a tough bleak way.
When Derek Jarman bought his place, it was just him and the fishermen, but now I get the impression that the money is moving in. We saw a very luxurious beach house being built. 
All the wandering around in the sea air did the trick. We took our appetites and repaired to the Pilot Inn for a massive plate of dinner. It was almost bigger than me. A great icebreaker. Several of the other punters engaged me in fish and chip based conversation. 

And no, that is not a load of codswallop. 

The other place we visited by the sea, was Hastings. That part of the country is so historic. They call it 1066 country, because that is the year the Battle of Hastings was fought. There is actually a little town called Battle, where the fighting took place. Loads of places are mentioned in the Domesday book, which was commissioned just 20 years later by William the Conqueror, the Frenchman who won the battle and became King of England.

I've heard mixed things about Hastings. I think it had become very run down, but it has had a lot of regeneration over the last few years and the Old Town in particular has been reinvigorated with lots of charming quirky little vintage shops. The buildings are amazing, a lot dating back from Elizabethan times.

I can imagine the narrow alleys and back street pubs filled with sailors and pirates in years gone by.
We only had a bite-size taster, but it has whet our appetite.
I do love it when a pussy cat throws itself at me whilst I go about my business. They always have the most interesting secrets to tell.


Fiona said...

Isn't it exciting discovering new places especially when they have such a powerful effect on you? I've never visited Dungeness before but your description is pretty much how I imagined it. Romney Marshes not far away is similar. Hastings (in Sussex, my neck of the woods) has great chazzas and second hand shops I believe. It used to have a bad rep so I'm pleased to hear about regeneration.

Kylie said...

That black and yellow cottage and its garden (and associated flotsam and jetsam dotted around the place) is just my cup of tea Tania. It looks "windswept and desolate" (I know this is a quote from somewhere but I can't remember where?!) and I love it!
And what a better conversation starter than fish and chips - everyone has an opinion!

p.s. so glad you like my kookaburra - it says a lot about you I think ;) xxx

Connie said...

Oh my. These photos really are otherworldly. I love unusual places. It looks so deserted. Were you the only people there?

Vix said...

Dungeness looks fascinating. I'm sure I saw something in The Guardian about it last weekend, you trendsetter. We once went to a desolate beach in Fuerteventura with an amazing house planted in the middle, your photos remind me of that.
Hastings looks sweet and not at all how I'd imagined it (all run down with dole hostels and pensioners on mobility scooters). The yellow house is cheery and lovely.
Good places attract cute cats. xxxx

mondoagogo said...

It's funny, me and my mum were talking about Dungeness a couple of weeks ago (I've wanted to go for years), and then last week there was a piece on it by Alys Fowler in the Guardian and then there's this post!

I think Hastings is like Margate, which has had a similar regeneration -- once word of the new art centre got about, a bit more money started pouring in... I do really like it, even some of the grotty corners!

Curtise said...

I've never visited either Dungeness or Hastings, but your post has made me want to do just that! Which is what all the best travel writing does, of course - new career, Tan?
Oh those huge skies, and the expanse of beach, old boats, boardwalks and tracks to the horizon, and lovely you in the distance - great photos. And of course you had to have fish and chips, it's de rigeur when by the sea.
Hastings sounds great, and cats always sniff out the nicest people. Fact.
Where to next? xxxx

Helga said...

Dungeness just looks enchanting. Reminds me a little of the beach at the beginning of Betty Blue in it's wild sparseness. I'd go here, and Hastings in a heartbeat! So lovely, seems so remote. I am very drawn to remote places. I must have a little hermit in me!
XXX Looooove!

Helga said...

O, speaking of Betty Blue, have you read "Instructions for Visitors" by Helen someone? It's set in that same part of France. Which has nothing really to do with just all leads to the next thing...XXX