Archive | November, 2013

Blackcap and Boathouse Organics (not)

20 Nov

The run

So nice to be back in the car with a hot flask of coffee listening to the rain drumming on the roof rather than being out running in it.

Foul weather

A better day for being in the car rather than out of it

A foul day for running: stinging rain, but as with most things, once you’re out in the boat rowing, it’s not nearly as bad.

Found this route on Walk Jog Run, a simple out and back, good for a day like this when you can turn back when you’ve had enough.

Blackcap run

I parked up by Nevill Rec, Lewes (watch out – the crescent is one way – I almost drove into a bus!) and ran a short way up the road before turning up by Landport Bottom and running up past the allotments.

Lewes allotments

Was heartened to see several riders and horses so didn’t feel quite the dang fool I suspected myself of being, running in weather like this. From there you are pretty much up on the downs and a pleasant bridleway takes you up past Suzy Smith riding stables and then into sheep and cattle-grazing land. They seemed unconcerned by the weather so why should I be?

Suzy Smith riding stables

Bit alarming!

The next section was uphill to Blackcap, where there was a trig point and a plaque commemorating replanting when the Queen came to the throne.

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By this time I decided I’d had enough – 4k out, so would make a tidy 8k run. Hurtled back down the hill through the now quite heavy rain, no time for lingering over photographs and chatting to passers by today – the main objective was to get back to the car and that hot flask of coffee as quickly as possible!

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The farm

The farm shop turned out to be a big disappointment, I had researched and planned to go to Boathouse Organics, however the sat nav took my to the Cock Inn, where I asked directions and checked out the menu for lunch. Boathouse Organics turned out to be just up the road but it was closed and looked like it was for sale. Recommended by Rick Stein indeed! I drove up the road and investigated Isfield where there is the Lavender Line, but not much else. No farm shops to be found around here, so back to the Cock Inn for lunch.

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The lunch

The Cock Inn is a nice cosy pub with a dark, low ceilinged bar, with a real fire. An extensive menu covers the wall to the left of the bar, featuring starters, steaks, fish, mains, vegetarian and sweets, plus a specials board. I chose to sit in the bar as the restaurant area was of a contrasting nature, all light wood and not nearly so cosy. Plus I was loving the smell of the real fire. Very friendly staff and quick service – I ordered smoked haddock, cheese and leek quiche which came with new potatoes or chips and salad. Fairly ordinary pub food – nothing wrong with it at all but perhaps a tad unimaginative, however, the nice atmosphere made up for it. The place quickly filled up with many tables already booked, average age about 65. Bit strange for a pub down a dead end road but perhaps it has a good reputation? Seemed like a lively crowd at any rate.

pub fayre

Barcombe and Holmansbridge Farm Shop

13 Nov

The run

A beautiful, sunny, slightly frosty day after two days of heavy rain. I parked on the High Street at Barcombe which consisted of a couple of shops and a pub, with the intention of following a route I’d found on Walk Jog Run – of course that’s if you have an internet connection *sigh* why didn’t I print the map off (“the old ways are the true ways”). Decided to have a quick reccie of the village as I never seem to be able to follow other people’s routes anyway so seeing the route probably wouldn’t make much difference. Looked at a couple of noticeboards to see whether any walks or routes were advertised but it was only the usual notices about playgroups and filling shoeboxes to send to Romania. Had a wander round the village taking in the village hall and the yummy mummies arriving for playgroup. The school and recreation ground. Decided to take a lap of the recreation ground which led me on to a few allotments and the Barcombe wild project.

Wild about Barcombe

Wild about Barcombe

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It looked like an imaginative project to keep the local youth engaged featuring dens, tyre obstacles, walkways and balancing boards. Ran round a couple of times trying out all the various obstacles before heading down the field crossing a bridge and heading along a very muddy track following the telegraph poles.


Met a few dog walkers and everyone was very chatty and friendly – no scary thoughts today. Followed the track onwards through some very boggy bits – that feeling when water flows into your trainers and suddenly you’re running, your feet squelching in wet socks. (Note to self: bring spare socks!)

Wet socks

White socks were not a good idea

The path didn’t run out before I wanted to turn back so I decided to investigate every path, stile and bridge on the return journey. The first I saw was a very muddy path leading down into some woods, I followed it and immediately met a man of the huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ brigade walking his dog. I asked him if I could get back to the village via the woods and he gave me good directions. Lovely run through the woods, following a field round and hopping over a few stiles back to the village. 

The farm

Holmansbridge Farm Shop

A large turkey made out of a hay bail greeted me at the entrance to Holmansbridge Farm Shop and I was met by a friendly black and white spaniel as I got out of the car. On entering the farm shop I was immediately attended to though I just wanted to look around. The shop consisted of mainly a large meat counter, which looked like very good quality produce, especially the cuts of beef, venison and unusual sausages such as Thai flavoured. Apart from the meat they make pies, scotch eggs and sausage rolls. A few homemade cakes, bottled soft drinks and Bay Tree sauces and chutneys. Not much to browse and with the husband’s words ringing in my ears ‘Buy cheese!’ as he thrust a £20 note in my hand, I selected a green gammon, several varieties of cheese and a seeded loaf. My overall impression was the shop seemed quite high-end, mainly a butchers with a good, professional service. Orders were being taken for Christmas turkeys. 



The lunch

On to the Rainbow Inn at the junction leading to Barcombe. I have passed this pub a few times on my travels around this area and it never looked up to much from the outside. The menu outside looked quite posh and quite expensive (£11-18 for a main). Not masses of choice on the menu which I always think is a good sign. I chose roast fillet of sea bass nicoise style with fine beans and a poached egg (£17).

Sea Bass at the Rainbow Inn

Very attentive service and a crackling fire awaited me inside. The dining room was properly set up with all the tables laid although it was early and very quiet. In fact aside from myself and the staff, the only people in were a group of tweed jacketed chaps having a meeting and I got the impression they may have just taken the place over. The food was very nice and well presented though the green olives were perhaps a bit overwhelming. I felt slightly intimidated when I realised I had used the wrong knife and fork and managed to squirt my top with exploding roast cherry tomato! Overheard one of the waiting staff saying they had new owners, so I was right. The staff need a bit more training so they don’t serve the same table twice (first one, then the other, asked me about dessert and I heard it happen at another table too – better than being ignored though!) finished the meal with a pot of lemon verbena tea. (It reminded me of pregnancy yoga classes.) Oh dear, while I was drinking my tea, the couple at the adjacent table had to send back their fish and chips for being uncooked in the middle – they said the batter was nice though! I think for the price I would go for the Half Moon at Plumpton, though this would be worth trying again in a few months once the new owners have settled in.

Lemon verbena tea

Tasted like the tea we used to get at pregnancy yoga

Lewes and Spring Barn Farm #2

6 Nov

The run

Money in my purse and a full tank of gas – a good start to the day! The weather was not so good though and I really did not want to get out of the car!

A wild and wet morning in Lewes

A wild and wet morning

Decided to do the Lewes run again (after the previously failed attempt: see Lewes and Spring Barn Farm) and was also curious to see how Lewes was baring up after their infamous bonfire night. So, the day after the night before, would I see any other evidence apart from a boarded up cafe with hastily painted in red; ‘booze and fireworks’ ? It seemed that much of the clearing up had already happened; just barriers being loaded onto lorries, shopkeepers un-boarding their shops and, bizarrely, an absence of the pay machine in the car park I had chosen. It looked like it had been intentionally removed – so free parking today? An excited discussion was taking place in the car park – would we all get tickets – one lady was going to leave a note on her car, another was taking photographic evidence.

Much more confident on this run than last time, having done it twice since with the husband – the first time, even he got lost – so I don’t feel quite such a failure – as he has an excellent sense if direction.

Lewes Loop

Lewes Loop

It’s quite nicely varied heading out under the A27 to fairly open, desolate farmland, passing through the pretty village of Iford, a fairly short but nasty bit of road which you don’t have much choice but to run on, before turning down to Swanborough fishing lakes – but don’t go too far – the husband and I made that mistake before and got stuck between a nettle patch and a barbed wire fence!

Lewes farmland

There is a barely visible footpath sign before you reach the water works which leads you through a fun wooded path between fields. Some evidence of storm damage today as a fallen tree was blocking the path.



I stopped for a natter with the ducks before continuing on to the best field.

Swanborough Ducks

It’s the one you want to run across singing – my husband always has The Little House on the Prairie music running through his head and envisages me in a patchwork dress running through this field!

The hills are alive…

The hills are alive…

The final leg took me back to where the Lewes bonfire clear-up was still going on in earnest, one of the effigies was still intact and I asked one of the volunteers what the story was, apparently they couldn’t get it onto the field of bonfires last night and it had been left behind. I asked what they would do with it – she said it was packed with explosives and gave a shrug.

Bonfire effigy

Bonfire effigy

Back at the car I was relieved to see we had not all been clamped, but as I drank my flask of coffee I noticed a van pull up containing the parking machines to put back – time to make a swift exit!

The farm

The intention was to go to the Tractor Barn at Swanborough (as advertised on the fishing noticeboard)

Swanborough Fishing Lake noticeboard

Beneath all the photos there is an advert for the Tractor Barn

but after missing the turning, doubling back and finding a few houses, but no sign for it, and a large unwelcoming sign saying ‘PRIVATE NO PARKING TURNING ONLY’ I gave up and headed back to the wonderful Spring Barn Farm. The shop was looking very festive with lots of Christmas decorations for sale, a hamper-building service and an excellent selection of sweets, biscuits, local ales and wines. I chose a selection of cheeses, some ham, bread and olives – a ploughman’s for tea!

Spring Barn Farm, Lewes

The lunch

Back to the dingy restaurant which was made to feel a bit more welcome with the addition of a real fire. A couple of toddlers were in with their mothers, threatening to drink the salad dressing on the table.  I took a very amusing phone call from a man offering me a free copy of Women’s Running which may lead to a subscription if I don’t remember to cancel it – he was very charming and his bosses should be pleased with his performance!

I ordered a muddled plum, apple and cinnamon cordial and a venison burger. (Delicious)

Venison burger

Venison burger

Whilst eating my lunch I was treated to a running commentary on a toddler’s seven poos whilst the other one was practising his burping. (Tip: do not sit near the toilets: you can hear everything!)

Teenagers get bad press but I reckon toddlers are worse!

The freebie

Today’s freebie was the parking – thank you Lewes council!

Parking in Lewes

The tarmac-ed area where the parking machine once stood