The Cormorant.

Seen on my morning run in Eastbourne Harbour today.

A large and conspicuous waterbird, the cormorant has an almost primitive appearance with its long neck making it appear reptilian. It is often seen standing with its wings held out to dry. Regarded by some as black, sinister and greedy, cormorants are supreme fishers which can bring them into conflict with anglers and they have been persecuted in the past. The UK holds internationally important wintering numbers.

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/cormorant/

The Common Cormorant or Shag

by Christopher Isherwood

The Common Cormorant or shag
Lays eggs inside a paper bag.
The reason you will see no doubt
It is to keep the lightning out.
But what these unobservant birds
Have never noticed is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

The Gentleman’s Game

Vitai Lampada

There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night—
Ten to make and the match to win—
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
But his captain’s hand on his shoulder smote
‘Play up! play up! and play the game! ‘

The sand of the desert is sodden red,—
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; —
The Gatling’s jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England’s far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
‘Play up! play up! and play the game! ‘

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the school is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind—
‘Play up! play up! and play the game!

By Sir Henry Newbolt.

The Trees by Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf 
Like something almost being said; 
The recent buds relax and spread, 
Their greenness is a kind of grief. 

Is it that they are born again 
And we grow old? No, they die too, 
Their yearly trick of looking new 
Is written down in rings of grain. 

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Eastbourne Carpet Gardens.

Carpet Gardens early 1900s

The famous Carpet Gardens are the centrepiece of Eastbourne’s Promenade with vibrant displays of bedding plants and special planting features. It was around 1904 that they first appeared on the Grand Parade near the pier. It is not known who first thought of adorning the sea front with some such a gorgeous display of horticulture but Eastbourne Borough Council do a fantastic job in creating year round displays to reflect the seasons.

Above is an early postcard of the gardens. Make a future date to come and see them how they are now in our beautiful town.

Storm Ciara and Spring Tides

Storm Ciara hit the UK with a vengeance today 9th February. Billed as the Storm of the Century, gales reaching over 70 mph in places have disrupted air, sea, rail and road travel.

Met office weather forecast

It’s not been all bad though. A British Airways flight made the fastest subsonic New York to London journey. The Boeing 747-436 reached speeds of 825 mph (1,327 km/h) as it rode a jet stream accelerated by Storm Ciara.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7983919/British-Airways-records-fastest-transatlantic-flight-Storm-Ciara-blows-jet-US.htmlMore info about AMP

It’s been spectacular on Eastbourne Seafront, where Ciara combined with a full moon and spring tides to give a pretty amazing weather picture.

Eastbourne Pier

A spring tide is a tide after a new or full moon, when there is the greatest difference between high and low water. A spring tide or ‘King Tide’ refers to the ‘springing forth’ of the tide during new and full moon.

High waters

The Fisherman.

Eastbourne, East Sussex January 2020.

The Fisherman

By W. B. Yeats

Although I can see him still.
The freckled man who goes
To a grey place on a hill
In grey Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies,
It’s long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.
All day I’d looked in the face
What I had hoped ‘twould be
To write for my own race
And the reality;
The living men that I hate,
The dead man that I loved,
The craven man in his seat,
The insolent unreproved,
And no knave brought to book
Who has won a drunken cheer,
The witty man and his joke
Aimed at the commonest ear,
The clever man who cries
The catch-cries of the clown,
The beating down of the wise
And great Art beaten down.

Maybe a twelvemonth since
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face,
And grey Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark under froth,
And the down-turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream;
A man who does not exist,
A man who is but a dream;
And cried, ‘Before I am old
I shall have written him one
poem maybe as cold
And passionate as the dawn.’

“The Fisherman”, published in 1916, depicts Yeats’ considerations into the loss of Irish tradition through the persona of a fisherman.

This image, caught on my Eastbourne seafront run last Sunday morning, made me think of The Fisherman by W. B Yeats.

The Grand Hotel Eastbourne

Winter afternoon treat at the Grand Hotel Eastbourne today. The epitome of old Englishness and luxury, I never tire of this fabulous hotel. Was interested to see whose shoes I followed into that beautiful building. Apparently Claude Debussy, Ernest Shackleton, Charlie Chaplin, Dame Helen Mirren, John Hurt and Bros have all preceded me:

https://www.grandeastbourne.com/140-years-of-the-grand

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

― Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

English Seaside Saturday.

I often think that there is nothing more depressing than an English seaside town in January, however I quite enjoyed a winter Eastbourne Pier this afternoon.

So a little information about the pier:

Work began on Eastbourne pier with a working capital of £15,000 in April 1866 and was completed in 1872. The pier is 300 meters long and built on stilts, which rest in cups on the seabed allowing the whole structure to move during rough weather. During the Second World War decking was removed to host machine guns to provide a useful advantage point to repel enemy landings. In December 1942, an exploding mine caused considerable damage to the pier and nearby hotels. It’s 1000 seat theatre was then destroyed by a fire in 1970 and was replaced with an evening entertainment venue that has since become home to Atlantis Nightclub, The Waterfront Cafe/Bar. In 2014 the pier caught fire again, this time destroying the large arcade and saloons in the midway. Mr Sheikh Abid Gulzar a local hotelier, brought the pier in November 2015.

All the fun of the Pier.?

The pier also used to have a Paddle Steamer service, (wish I had been around to see this) operated by P and A Campbell, who ran trips from the pier along the south coast and across the English Channel to Bolougne, France from 1906 until the outbreak of World War Two. The service was resumed after the war, but then gradually withdrawn. Culturally the Pier has appeared in various Agatha Christie ‘Poirot’ episodes, the 2001 film Last Orders and the 2008 film Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging. In addition the 2010 version of Brighton Rock used Eastbourne Pier to stand in for Brighton’s Palace Pier.

Looking out from the pier west towards Brighton.

A wander on it passed a grey January afternoon nicely.