Archive | March, 2014

Fairwarp and Birdineye Farm Shop

26 Mar

The run

I should have known things didn’t bode well when I immediately took a wrong turn and headed off in the opposite direction to my planned route. Once again I had chosen a route from pub strolls, loving the clarity of directions. Well, one of us must have been having an off day (could have been me?) but I didn’t seem to be able to follow the author’s instructions at all today (something to do with being able to tell your left from your right I suppose).

Fairwarp Church

Fairwarp Church

I started from the pub car park at The Forrester Inn, Fairwarp and headed off past the pretty village green, in fair but slightly chilly weather (I was glad of my hat and gloves). Headed through forest following a track past the church and along bridelways popular with riders through the Ashdown Forest. I met quite a few riders, walkers and dog walkers, all very friendly – some even complimented me on my running!

Ashdown Forest

For a while it was all going well, bridge – check, Airman’s Grave – check, car park – check. Then, somehow I didn’t cross the B2026 where I should, although it did give me a chance to check out the Duddlesworth tearooms (unfortunately closed) before once more getting lost frustratingly close to the end.

Airman's Grave

Airman’s Grave, commemorating the crew of a Wellington bomber that crashed near here in 1941

Duddlesworth Tearooms

Duddlesworth Tearooms

It had got to the point where I was fed up with this run now, I was hungry and wanted my coffee and peanut butter protein ball, so resorted to trying to chase the blue dot around the screen on the Runkeeper in order to find my way back.

Runkeeper route

Runkeeper route

I headed back to the road and ran along it for a few hundred yards until I found the place I should have come out (Spring Garden Farm) from here it was meant to be a simple matter of retracing my steps back to the start. Retrace my steps! By this point I was so confused and hungry that nothing looked familiar – thank goodness for the church being such a great landmark!

The farm

 

I headed off to the Birdineye Farm Shop just outside Uckfield, which was situated with a cluster of other businesses on a farm estate (car repairers, dog grooming etc).

Priding itself on its butchery – selling a good selection of meat both fresh and frozen, Andy the butcher talked me through his philosophy for the shop. All the meat is from the farm (with the odd exception of specialities bought in from Smithfields – duck for example)  – I even got to meet the pig farmer whose pigs live free range in the forest. It’s a pity I didn’t need any meat. He explained they try to get in what the customers want (he had just had a request for mutton and had previously got in goat for someone). He also cuts the meat in front of the customer so they can see what they are getting. I bought a cake – they are bought in from somewhere – looked delicious – what excuse do I have to buy a cake I thought? Do I need one?

Red Berry Crumble Cake

Red Berry Crumble Cake

 

 

The lunch

With just about enough time I headed back to The Forresters Arms for lunch. Surprisingly busy (mainly over 65s), the decor was with a low beamed ceiling and wooden floor, quite spartan. I ordered a light bite of Stilton and steak pie and a ginger beer. Must have a craving for pies today as I bought a Cornish pasty in the farm shop too. My lunch was kind of like a school dinner, but in a good way.

The overheard conversation: what you are planting in your garden, the parking dispute at the village shop, whatshername that used to live in Uckfield before she moved to Devon.

Stilton and steak pie

Stilton and steak pie

 

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Isfield and Holly Gap Farm Shop

19 Mar

The run

From Plumpton I drove to Isfield and parked in the car park of The Laughing Fish pub before following another of the pub strolls routes. This pub is right next door to the Lavender Line – a steam railway of about a mile long. It might be worth taking visitors or kids here, with the railway, river walk, farm shop and pub all in close proximity.

The Lavender Line, Isfield

The Lavender Line, Isfield

Again, very clear instructions taking me out of the village and alongside the River Ouse (which is the same river I ran along in Lewes a couple if weeks ago). I was concerned that this would be quite muddy, as that run was a few weeks ago, especially as the book said it was prone to flooding, however it wasn’t too bad as it has been quite dry lately. Bit of a grey day and a reasonably unremarkable walk beside the river and through fields.

River Ouse

River Ouse

There were a few warning notices about livestock and keeping dogs on leads, but it wasn’t until I walked into a field of cows and calves that I froze. I have said it before on this blog: I do not like cows! Especially when they have calves with them – I have read far too many stories in The Guardian about people being killed or injured by cows!

I was even too scared to stop and take a photo of them to show you how terrifying they were. Standing there, looking at me, slowly chewing…

Scary dinosuar

Here is a picture of a scary dinosaur instead

I decided to keep to the river bank as that would be my escape route in the extremely unlikely event they would charge me, but as I got closer I realised I would have to get very close to them indeed to get by that way, and so diverted right across to the opposite side of the field, where my escape route was an extremely thick hedge with barbed wire in the middle – cow proof, I thought. Edged around the field, walking, not running all the time feeling their eyes upon me. ‘I’m sorry I eat you’ I thought ‘don’t kill me’. Now with my back to them I can see my escape route in the far corner of the field, a gap leading into another field. However this was blocked by a flock of sheep. I am not scared of sheep though (not bigger than me) so headed towards the gap, daring not to look round or speed up. As I approached, the flock of sheep moved as one into the other field and allowed me safe passage through.

From there I passed under a disused railway line and continued following the river as far as the Anchor Inn, which would make a good halfway point if walking with children or less fit persons. You can also hire boats there to take on the river in the summer months, I believe.

Railway bridge

Railway bridge

Just before the bridge to the pub (it is on the other side of The Ouse) I doubled back along a high hedge (please not back to the cows, I thought) and crossed a couple of footbridges over waterways, before heading across a field and rejoining the road into the village.

I passed Boathouse Farm on the way in and looked in at some sheep and lambs in the barn. I made the connection between Boathouse Farm and Boathouse Organics (a failed trip on a previous outing), had a look at the Lavender Line before heading back to the car for coffee and New Zealand bird seed cake (made by my daughter). find the recipe here.

New Zealand Bird Seed Cake

New Zealand Bird Seed Cake – not for the birds!

The farm

Holly Gap Farm Shop

Holly Gap Farm Shop

Just along the road from The Laughing Fish and in the village is this farm shop (no trouble finding it this week!) I was greeted by a very friendly lady and a butcher who welcomed me to the shop, gave me a brief explanation of their business – primarily a butchers, but with an expanding product range. The meat counter looked good – not massive but with chicken, sausages, bacon, mince, steak, chops etc. They also had a small selection of seasonal vegetables (not the freshest), some freshly baked brown and white bread, preserves, a cheese counter (again a good but not exciting selection), a freezer with homemade pies – I was tempted by those, but as my freezer is out of action at the moment, I couldn’t really indulge. Preserves, salad dressings, marinades, juices, Montezumos and Divine chocolate and a selection of cards. I bought one of the cards and the lady explained that she is a local woman who works in the shop in the afternoons. I also bought bread, beetroot and apple juice and some salad dressing.

Janet Orpwood

“A Good Read’ by Janet Orpwood

The lunch

After parking in their car park all morning, it only seemed fair to patronise the pub at lunchtime. Bit shabby inside (could do with jooshing up a bit) but a good menu and craft beers on offer (not that I could have one of those, being the designated driver of the day!). Soft drinks: Owlets fruit juices and Fentimans. They also seem to have a lot of events planned including a Lebanese food night and the ‘Tommy Trot’ beer race, in which participants walk through the village on Easter Monday trying not to spill their half pint of beer! There is also an egg hunt for children – maybe I should check it out?

Nothing immediately grabbed me on the menu, although there was a good choice of daily specials including curry, fish, a vegetarian option and pies. However in the end I decided to try the Holly Gap farm burger as I hadn’t bought any of their meat. It tasted like a proper homemade burger, with very hot onions and chips, slightly greasy. Be warned the burger doesn’t come with anything extra unless you order it! I had onions, you could have gherkins, salad, cheese, bacon etc but it all costs a bit extra. Basic burger costs £8.50 extras 25-75p each.

Holly Gap Farm burger

Holly Gap Farm burger

The overheard conversation: the disappointing weather, where to let the greyhound sleep, crumble, the price of a pint in Hove…

Ripe and The Ram Inn

12 Mar

The run

A short one today – a run around Ripe between the churches of Chalvington and Ripe.

Chalvington church

Chalvington church

St John the Baptist, Ripe

St John the Baptist, Ripe

Parked in the Lamb Inn car park and was immediately met by the friendly landlady who assured me it was fine to park until I got back.

Chalvington and Ripe

Circular walk/run Chalvington and Ripe

Bit of a cold and foggy start but it soon burned off into beautiful sunshine. I followed very good instructions photocopied from the pub strolls book (see previous post) and set off through pretty houses, still quite muddy fields and along quiet lanes on the circular route.

Muddy field

Duck prints

What can I say but this was the idyllic country walk with birds singing, daffodils and beautiful country houses? I would highly recommend this as a short walk with children or older friends and relatives. Only two miles, a few stiles and one gate to climb over. The gates at Chalvington Church are worth a look – sadly dedicated to a young man who lost his life in the Second World War.

Chalvington church

Chalvington church

Chalvington church

Chalvington church

Chalvington church

Chalvington church

The farm

Back to the car for coffee and a protein ball (find the recipe here) and to Martins Wood Farm which according to the Tom Tom was only a third of a mile up the road. I decided to leave the car and walk. Headed off down Ripe Lane past lovely houses, some with amusing signs (it seems to be the thing here) and on, and on. And on. Checked my map app and it seemed I had gone past it, so shortly turned back towards the village. I hadn’t missed it (as I knew I hadn’t). I had plenty of time and it was a beautiful day so I decided to try the other road out of the village. No luck here either, just stud farms and more beautiful houses. Very quiet, but the few people I did meet were very friendly. 

Elephants!?

Elephants!?

Camels?!

Camels?!

And hippies?!

And hippies?!

Having had no luck with the farm shop I decided to see what Ripe Village Stores had to offer. I managed to get a few things I needed for the meal tonight but also noticed they sold nice pies, frozen ready meals (pheasant and caremalised apple, Moroccan chicken tagine) and a good range of Infinity foods such as spelt, beans, tahini etc. fresh vegetables, bread and basics. Looked like you could also get a cup of tea or coffee as there was one table set up. Enquired as to what time the pub opened but the shopkeeper didn’t seem to know. The boards outside said food was served from 12, so hung around on the picnic table waiting for it to open (not for the first time!)

The Lamb Inn, Ripe

The Lamb Inn, Ripe

The lunch

Nothing seemed to be happening, so shortly after 12 I cut my losses and decided to head for The Ram Inn at Firle which I had spotted on a previous run, but hadn’t had time to patronise. Very friendly staff, quick service and a nice sunny seat in the sunshine. Lots of choice of soft drinks including Fentimans. The menu looked good with light bites, mains, sandwiches and puddings. I chose a light bite of smoked salmon, beetroot and sour dough which was delicious. The overheard conversation was about storytelling, jungle gyms and walking in the Ashdown Forest.

The Ram Inn, Firle

The Ram Inn, Firle

Sussex Ouse Valley Way and Riverside

5 Mar

The run

Having had a few weeks break due to work commitments I found myself considerably disorganized for this week’s run despite not working yesterday. However yesterday was a quagmire of domestic traumas: having to have my ring cut off (it had got too tight and my finger was swelling painfully), our computer having a ‘block on the hard drive’ as we tried to update the software (as the lovely Sam from Mac Ambulance kindly assured me), some feverish hoovering (partly down to the imminent arrival from the afore mentioned Sam and visitors arriving at the weekend – the sudden realisation that someone would see the domestic chaos filled me with shame and horror!) and a sudden compulsion to invite my neighbour in for coffee (probably to counteract the hoovering/marking pile) anyway – breath – with so much excitement I didn’t spend the time researching running routes as I normally would. I decided the simplest thing would be to drive to Lewes and follow the river for a bit – no getting lost there I thought.

East Sussex Ouse Valley Way

East Sussex Ouse Valley Way

I spent some time driving around Lewes trying to find a suitable parking spot, eventually parking in what must be the most expensive car park in Lewes. Being of not blasé enough a nature to waltz into Tesco and park there for three hours for the price of a can of Coke.

After jumping through the various hoops of parking – phoning up to pay, downloading the parking app etc – why us everything so complicated these days? I finally changed into my new off-road running shoes (you may remember from the last blog that the previous pair were letting in small stones – ouchy, ouchy). These are goretex Asics bought from the Jog Shop in Kemp Town. I love Asics trainers and have had several pairs – the husband thinks the Goretex may make my feet a bit hot, but I was blown away by the tiny pouch on the tongue in which I could poke my laces.

Asics off road trainers

Asics off road trainers

And so I started out, round by Harvey’s brewery – the delicious smell of the hops! And through the park to the bridge, following the sign for the East Sussex Ouse.

Harvey's Brewery

Harvey’s Brewery

East Sussex Ouse Valley Way

East Sussex Ouse Valley Way

On the other side of the bridge it was a different story – immediately very muddy just as the husband had warned me it would be. At first I gingerly picked my way through the mud, trying not to mess my new shoes up, but after a few minutes I realised this was futile and just got on with it. The shoes faired pretty well – my feet did get wet, but not cold, and they didn’t come off in the sucky mud like the husband’s did on a previous version of this run.

View from the bridge

View from the bridge

Sucky mud

Sucky mud

Difficult to run over such muddy terrain so it wasn’t a fast run. It was a relief to finally meet a track and then a road where I could practice some of the running techniques learned on the Kinetic Revolution workshop, including running with small circles, like running through snow, pushing the arms back and elongating the neck. Running with my mantra ‘push, push, pull, pull, back, back, back’. I met one other runner on the road who I warned about the muddy riverside, but he looked far too sensible to attempt off road today!

River Run

River run

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Going back was quicker. There was no stopping to wonder about the best way to get through the mud – I already knew that from the out. It was more a case of ‘this is the best way round’ or ‘just plunge in like a kid’ or ‘swing on this gate to get across’ . Back through the park I attempted to clean my shoes in a puddle to save on the cleaning work later.

The lunch and produce

Walking back through the town, a mud-coated spectacle to the Wednesday shoppers, I sussed out where the public toilets were and made my way back to the car to change my shoes. Luckily in the boot of my (new!) car was a carrier bag for my muddy shoes (more luck than planning!) and I headed back to the public toilets with my bag of clean clothes to get changed. Being the mother of a disabled child has meant I have developed a skill of clocking local facilities and also of being able to perform a complete clothes change on a child in a small cubicle, therefore it was a simple matter to change out of my muddy things into clean jeans, dry socks and sweatshirt, ready for some coffee and reviewing.

I decided I must not go to Bill’s, I must not go to Bill’s (I would have dearly loved to go to Bill’s but I know how good that is already) so instead focused on the Riverside – a collection of shops and cafés inside one building. I began upstairs with coffee and cake at Riverside Brasserie -lovely views over the river, but the service was a bit slow and they forgot my cake! Regular customers flirt with the staff which adds to the entertainment.

Riverside, Lewes

Riverside, Lewes

Also upstairs is an art framers with a lovely selection of cards (I bought several for the approaching birthdays) and a wonderful knitting and sewing shop with beautiful fabrics, wool, buttons, ribbons and sewing kits – if only I knew someone who would like a knicker-making set!

Downstairs is a knowledgable, busy flower shop with bespoke bouquets,  a juice and shake bar, a barbers, a sweet shop with pick and mix, truffles, foil wrapped individual chocolates like ladybirds, bees etc, and Terry’s fisheries: I bought some honey roast salmon which was quite expensive but was all cooked and could be eaten hot or cold so win win easy tea for me!

I ordered some food from the downstairs cafe, they had a nice selection of sandwiches, paninis, pies etc, a vast selection of Tea Pigs tea (I bought the chai tea to take home) however the seating was a bit cramped  – it was a mission to get in and out!

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