Sunday, 12 May 2013

May Day (Jack in the Green)

Warning: photo heavy!

(photo by EricaStLeonards on Flickr)

Hastings Jack in the Green festival has been going (this time round) for 40 years. Much earlier it was a popular event until Victorian morals and dislike of phallic maypoles put a stop to it. The festival is on all weekend but Jack himself is released on Monday morning by the net shops from where a parade makes its way up to the West Hill via a stop at one or more of the pubs in the Old Town. Morris Dancers and Bogey Men provide entertainment up on the hill until Jack is slain mid afternoon in order to release the spirit of summer. Nowadays he is slain through the method of hanky waving and picking off his leaves and throwing them into the crowd, but apparently in the old days he was beaten with sticks.

Tulips and blossom in the park

Sunday started with a walk down through the park flowers to see the crowning of the May Queen and some Maypole dancing. The look on the oldest Maypole dancers face when the little ones kept getting it wrong was worth the trip alone. I did worry for their futures though because the last Maypole dancer I saw was Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

The May Queen (in pink) with the mayor, the town cryer, and attendants

Maypole dancing

Sunday evening was our anniversary so we went to a fish restaurant for Hastings fish and this brilliant local lager which is brewed with champagne yeast and you can really taste the fact. Try it if you can find it, it's a bit confusing at first but lovely.

Champagne Lager

Ever a fan of blue plaques, suffragettes, and survivors of disasters, I was pleased to see this on the way home:


The main event happens on the Monday with hundreds and hundreds of bikers converging on Hastings seafront. The walk down the always lovely seafront promenade was jazzed up with bikes as far as the eye could see including such gems as the knuckle duster

Knuckle Duster

The Gold wing (note the desert scene with cactus)

Gold Wing

and the 'I couldn't decide if I wanted a car, a bike or a mobility scooter'

Wide Load

Once we got up to the hill, it was absolutely packed with people in green, or with green noses (if you aren't wearing enough green the bogey men will dab you with paint). We saw Mister Tumnus

Mister Tumnus

Morris dancers with humour

Morris dancer humour



and glamourous people with birds on their heads

Bird Head

Eventually the crowds all got a bit much so we went to sit up in the Ladies Parlour (next to the castle where the jousting used to happen) and had a good time people watching - especially the teenagers. They'd all formed a big (and I mean scores and scores of them) group a bit further down the hill away from their parents where they were getting happily wasted. And apparently troublesomely wasted as we watched some police go over to interfere and eventually drive one or two off in their van. Bit traumatic for them, excellent viewing for us. Lots of gesturing and arguing. The younger kids were more entertained with the traditional May day pastime of running up a hill and rolling back down it repeatedly (a classic, I'm sure you will agree).

Where's Wally

We wound our way down the twittens to get to the Old Town, where we found a street DJ playing Stevie Wonder and lots of people dancing while the normally busy shops sat around empty. If I had one I'd probably have locked up and joined in, but I'm not so my opinion is void.

Finishing off with a 99 (in tribute to Maggie. Or was it?) gave us the energy to get back down the seafront home for a snooze.

Mr Whippy


  1. What brilliant adventures you had this weekend! Happy anniversary to you and Clem- it sounds most excellently celebrated, and I love that plaque. Do you reckon there's a company that makes pretend ones? Might get one for our house "Consumers of baked goods and ignorers of dust" xxx

    1. I reckon blue plaques could be the new 'wooden letters on the wall'. We can make this happen!