{05/02/2012}   Hastings, cow dung, being a grampus and candlesticks

     1893 advice to a lady:  “A woman who is too fat cannot take a step without puffing like a grampus, and being in a bath of perspiration; she is as heavy as an elephant; her waist and the great circumference of her hips give her an appearance of vulgarity, however distinguished-looking she may have been by nature.”

17th Century cure for baldness: rub cow dung into your scalp.

I have been in Hastings this weekend (almost snowed in) and I spent a while talking to someone I consider a bit of a local hero, Robert of Robert’s Rummage fame.  Being a great lover of rummaging, while paying for the three old books I bought I started talking to him.  Many years ago, he was a chef in a good London restaurant.  From that he got a love of old cookery books, a love it transpires we both share.  I have bought a lot of my old cookery books from one of his two shops, he says he’s getting rid of some of the not so old ones.  He then showed me an auction house brochure of largely 17th and 18th century cookery books.  It then transpired that he had a few of them, which he went and got out for me to look at.  I felt strangely privileged to be looking through c1650s books.  One had writing on every other page as each page of recipes was printed from a brass plate.  These books can cost c£4,000 if in good condition.  He then said I should speak to a bloke who’s just opened a shop up the road, Alastair Hendy.  The name rang a bell and I had already been in his shop, which is one of the most beautiful shops imaginable.  Alastair Hendy used to (or maybe still does) write for a newspaper, food related.  He would sometimes go into Robert’s Rummage and buy old cooking pots, etc, which Robert would then see pictures of in the paper a couple of weeks later.  I went to Alastair Hendy’s Home Store again.   (This is about him if you’re interested:

The shop is entirely in a largely Georgian house, with a bit of wattle and daub/Tudor.  He said it took three and a half years to renovate it.  In each room there are (expensive) home things, ranging from enamel ware (some old, some new) to sturdy bureaus.  There is even an old ladies’ toilet.  The room in the photo is clearly on a bathroom theme.  Wonderful shop.  Also, interestingly, on that street there is a baker, a shop that sells a bit of meat (I’m stretching for the butcher) and Hendy’s sells candles, proper ye olde stick in a candlestick holder candles.

I love that street and I love the old town in Hastings.  Today, unsurprisingly, it was extraordinarily cold, particularly walking into the icy wind coming off the sea.  It’s somewhere I like to go when I need inspiration for things to make or ways to make my home look more interesting.  This weekend was all about old books.  I have another weekend planned soon for a small table.  One day I may even return a lot of my things to Hastings as it’s somewhere I’d love to live.  It just isn’t somewhere I could live and commute to London.  My friend thinks it’s somewhere that’d make you want to go out and drink too much booze on a regular basis.  He could be right, though I can’t quite work out why there seems to be such a drinking culture!  Maybe it’s because there are a lot of pubs.  Like, seriously, a lot of pubs.


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