Stealing from Charity!

No, I didn’t actually steal anything, but I almost feel like I have.  Note the word almost.   I got such amazing bargains that it almost felt like stealing.

I have been working on a beast of a piece of furniture for my dining room and needed a much needed break from it.  So, I did what I usually do on a sunny day when I am not working for money, I hit the charity shops!  It is a form of entertainment for me and I never know if something will jump out at me and ask me to take it home.

Just so you know, I actually don’t really need anything.  I do have an idea to expand a piece of furniture and took some measurements before I went out, just in case I saw something I could use.  I also thought it might be nice to find some interesting artwork.  I am always on the lookout for a lovely painting.  I don’t think you can own too much art.  Charity shops are great places to score some nice paintings or frames.  Sometimes I find nice things that I didn’t even know I wanted!  Anyway, I had two intentions when I went out:  I was looking for a bookcase of sorts and I was looking for artwork.

It didn’t take long before I scored big time on the artwork.  Here is what I got today:


1) I couldn’t believe my eyes when I spied this painting by Nigel Greaves for £20!  The picture frame is worth more than £20!  And the painting is definitely worth more than that.  I should know because I own one of Nigel’s paintings.  I felt sick with excitement and felt like a naughty schoolgirl when I handed over my money.  How this painting came to be in a charity shop I will never know.  Usually, something of this worth gets given away when someone passes away and the relatives don’t like it or don’t know its value.  Although other people’s abstracts are really not my thing unless your name is Kandinsky, I do like this painting and have the perfect spot for it.  I still would have purchased it even if I didn’t like it.  I would just stick it on E-bay otherwise.

2)  This is a postcard of the All Saints Convalescent Hospital in Eastbourne and was sent to someone in London postmarked 1916.  I need to find a frame for it.  I like collecting historical items like this.  This little gem cost £1.50!  I am amazed that it found its way back to Eastbourne!  The building still stands, but it has been turned into very expensive apartments.

3)  I found this chess set for £2.00!  This chess set is nothing special, but it is just the right size and I want to learn how to play again.  I need to find a little box for the pieces.  This was one of those things that I didn’t even know I wanted!

4)  This painting was half price, for £2.00!  It’s a pretty watercolour of ‘Christmas Roses’ by Brian Neylan.  From what I could find on the internet, Brian Neylan was a resident of Eastbourne.  He passed away in 2001.  That was all that I could find out about this man.  This painting was done in 1999.  There is something really lovely and simple about this painting and I was surprised to see it going for a song.  Brian may be gone, but now he won’t be forgotten.

So, I now have a few more pieces to add to my collection.  You never know what you are going to learn about that little gem you take home with you.

What interesting things have you discovered in a charity shop?

A Walk Around Battle Abbey

One of the great things about where I live is that I don’t need to go far to visit a historical site.  I finally went into Battle.  No, I didn’t put on any armour or anything like that.  I went to Battle, the town.  Last Christmas, I went to visit a friend who was staying there, but I never got a really good look around.  Besides, it was really cold and icy, with snow on the ground.

Although the Abbey is open pretty much all year round, most of the tour is actually outside.  It is best seen when dry. And sunny.

The Battle of Hastings was fought here.  I don’t know why it is called The Battle of Hastings when Hastings is a bit further away (6 miles), but that is one of the things about the English that I will never understand and just leave it as is.

Anyway, here is where the battle was fought:

The Battlefield

Hmm, it doesn’t look like much of a battlefield, but many men lost their lives here and The Battle of Hastings changed the history of England.  The Normans conquered England, so basically that makes the English French.  No? 🙂

The entry fee includes an audio tour which is very informative and entertaining.  If you didn’t know anything about The Battle of Hastings before the tour, you will learn a considerable amount during.  The Battlefield walk takes about 30-40 minutes, but that is only if you stop and listen to the tour at various points, otherwise it will take less time, around 20 minutes.

Access to The Abbey is rather limited as a large part of it is taken over by a school which is in the great hall and library.  However, there are the dormitory ruins and undercrofts that one can go into.  I didn’t go into the exhibition which is housed in a modern building.

Battle has a small town centre.  There are some lovely shops and plenty of places to eat.  We were a bit late for lunch, so by the time we finished the Abbey tour, about 5pm, there was nowhere to have tea.  It is a good idea to get there early, have a wander around the town, eat lunch, do the tour (about 2 hrs), and then have a cream tea.  If you have energy and enough daylight after that, there are some lovely walks in the fields around the town.

A Walk Around Herstmonceux Castle

Herstmonceux Castle

I had a guest visiting me this weekend and since it was a bit too breezy to hang out and sunbathe on the beach, I took her to Herstmonceux Castle instead.  We were very lucky as there was a tour of the castle, which isn’t always the case, and which lasts about an hour.

Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and his sense of humour made what could have been an extremely mind numbing tour into something that was very pleasant and made the time pass very quickly.  He was a good storyteller.

Unfortunately, my camera battery died in the middle of the tour, so I wasn’t able to take many photographs.  Fortunately photographs are allowed and I will most likely come back again as the building is very interesting and I would like to explore the grounds more.

Courtyard and Water Lillies on the Moat

Herstmonceux Castle has a very interesting history and has had some colourful owners over the centuries.  The castle was built in the 15th Century by Sir Roger Fiennes.   It is of a brick construction (English bond) which was very rare for the time.  Although it looks like a mediaeval castle, it is not a castle in the traditional sense.  The building is in a poor position to defend itself and the gun ports are too small for the guns that were used at the time.  The walls would not have withstood bombardment by cannon balls for very long.  However, it was a stylish country house to look like a castle.

The interior of the building has changed dramatically over the years.  At one point, for many years, only the outside walls were standing.  The building has had some lovely renovations and is now owned by Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario and is used as a study centre, which is why it is not generally open to the public.

Elizabethan Staircase

Because the castle had been practically dismantled and items such as staircases, fireplaces, etc, sold off and the brick used from the inner sanctions to build a property in the area by one of the owners, most of the restoration is not replicated as the original.  However, there are some very interesting details.  I would happily sit through another tour just to have a look at the Grinling Gibbons staircase and doors in more detail.

After the castle tour, we had a lovely stroll through the gardens around the back.  The rose garden actually contains some beautiful roses that have a scent.  I certainly did stop and smell them.  I can’t help it.  Occasionally there are special outdoor events and you can even get married here.  The wedding room looked lovely and was set up for a wedding taking place that afternoon.  There is also a tea room on the premises.  The food looked good and although we didn’t eat there, we did have a very nice coffee.   There is a picnic area if you wanted to bring your own food.   Oh, and the loos were ok and clean.

We didn’t have time to visit the Science Centre, so I will definitely have to come back.   One can so easily spend a whole day here, especially if the weather is nice.

A couple of blonds