Jul. 30th, 2016

millionreasons: (wine)
I have been doing other things. Some weeks ago, during the rainy season, we went on a wine tasting in Sussex, near Bexhill. I didn't realise until we arrived that they only create sparkling wine and the vineyard was thus full of people doing tasters for their wedding and old folk talking about their trips to France. Mind you, wherever you go in England, there're old people on day trips. I preferred it when OAPs stayed at home, knitting and occasionally heading out to the WI to moan about the youth of today. We learned several things: to protect the grapes in the spring, they use thousands of large candles to warm the air, that wine shouldn't be served ice cold (5°C for white) and that red shouldn't be served room temperature, unless you have a pretty cold room (15°C), and that some sparkling wines use white grapes and some red. Traditional champagne is a blend of Pinot noir (red), Pinor meurnier (red) and Chardonnay (white), which perhaps explains why I'm never really reet fussed about champagne. I'm a cheap and cheerful Prosecco girl (although out of the five in the tasting, the wine I liked the most was the expensive 100% blanc de blanc vino). I also learned that the reason a cava cork went directly into my nose after I'd fiddled with the metal casing when we were in Barcelona was because it wasn't cold enough.

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We went the weekend after the weekend after Brexit and I could help but see everything through that prism. The winery used French machinery, because no-one makes it here. They rely on specialist grape picking Eurolabour, who move up through Spain and Italy, then France and Germany, and finally Britain through the summer.

I also went to the Serpentine Pavilion on the hottest day of the year, which, come to think of it, I did last year. There's something about heat that makes me want to go sit on the Central line. On the way home, I spent quite a lot of time sitting in the air-conditioned Stratford library, considering moving in until it was all over.

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Last Saturday, we went to Hastings, where there was rather a chill breeze blowing. I came here twenty years ago for a bank holiday weekend and thought it was a shithole. At first glance, my opinion didn't change: people hanging around with cans and arguments, a recreation ground bulldozed for a shopping centre, the usual high street. Then we mooched our way into the old town and I changed my mind, this was Brightonified, but Brighton of a few years ago where junk shops didn't charge London prices and you could make a living off of a second hand book shop. We had lunch in a friendly cafe, then walked to The Stade, which houses the Jerwood, as well as a sort of fisherfolk area. The blackened huts used to store nets and ropes but now stand as a memento, a tribute, a memorial. There's no harbour here so the remaining fishing boats have to be dragged down to sea.

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We went onto the pier, which I remember from 1996 hosting a load of olde pre-war slot machines. They're all gone and the pier has been poshed up with little huts selling artisan coffee and a gift shop selling repo posters from Hastings's heyday. I am annoyed at the gentrification until I read in the little museum that the pier burned down in 2010 and has only just been rebuilt. The shop sells postcards of the fire.

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Instead of paying the reasonably hefty fee to go into the art gallery, we played minigolf on the only internationally recognised crazy golf course in Britain. Indeed, behind us was a man with special clubs who chatted to some other guys about playing crazy golf in Dubrovnik and who was attending a championship game in Lisbon next month.

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We took the East hill lift (funicular) up to the top and wandered around a bit, finding the (locked) castle ruins, before going down for chips on the prom Marine Parade, and to see then the Nuns at the Albion, part of the Beatwave festival - for those who believe the 60s were the best decade. The Nuns are Britain's premier all-female Monks tribute act and they rock like heck. After that it's Los Fantasticos, four grey-hairs with guitars, skull-covered black shirts and a trumpet. They play surf music, which owes a lot to Mariachi bands and nothing to Brian Wilson. After that it's time to go home because I don't trust the train not to abandon us somwerehe near Orpington. We avoid a visit to Flairz, Brtiain's premier Flares 70s bar tribute pub.

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