This is a view from the East Hill in Hastings, over the West Hill and town, and out towards Beachy Head in the distance. A view of my youth, and one I always try to see when I am in the area. As I walk over this sandstone butte, which marks the eastern end of the town, I have John Martyn’s song ‘Over the Hill’ ( from his Solid Air album which contains the song May You Never that Clapton later recorded) in my head. Martyn lived at the foot of this hill and he is referring to the walk over the West hill – seen with the houses in the middle distance, which he had to negotiate getting from the railway station to his home.
Martyn had a reputation for altercations with the local fishermen who frequented the many pubs at the foot of the hill in the Old Town of Hastings.
I recall an instance of him, in the mid seventies, taking over the local folk club to try out one of his albums – probably One World, before going out on the road with it. The club featured quite a lot of traditional A Capella, hand to the ear, singers and to walk in to see Martyn with his amplifiers and synthesisers was a pleasant surprise. I had an enjoyable evening at least.
Another plein air painting I was forced to complete at home. It was nearly done when my stool started making strange noises underneath me so I stood up and it fell apart at my feet. As the place was covered in sheep droppings I decided to pack up and continue our walk up the hill and on to Cooden.
The day before I had gone to Hastings and walked to Fairlight where this row of coastguard cottages stand on top of the cliff at the highest point. I left out the radio and communications mast and hid the large radar behind the bushes on the right. I certainly wouldnt like to live there with the houses being continually bombarded by large doses of radio waves even though they are relatively low frequency.
Here are a couple of sketches I am less happy with. The one above is of Ecclesbourne Glen a deep ravine on the sandstone cliffs east of Hastings. The hillside is covered in a mass of amorphous vegetation which I knew was a bad thing to try to paint but I have a long affinity with the topography, having run it many times in my youth before heading off on the run along the cliff-top path to the next ravine and another lung-bursting descent and climb.
This last one is of a newly mown field in a valley on the edge of Friston Forest. I was taken by the illumination on the row of trees at the foot of the slope. Behind is the deep valley in shade beneath the forest. I didnt do the contrast justice, but sitting in the afternoon sunshine in isolation amid the birdsong was a pleasant way of passing the afternoon.