Archive | November, 2014

Forest Row and The Seasons Health Food Shop

27 Nov

Forest Row

The walk

Bright and cold this morning. A welcome break from a day of rain yesterday.

Had decided on a circular walk near Forest Row and utilise the shops there afterwards. A long-ish drive from the college at over 30 minutes but without lunch to factor in, I reckoned I had time. Lovely drive through Chailey Common and Ashdown Forest, a low sun, and autumnal colours on the trees. My Tom Tom took me most of the way there with a slight hiccup at the end when it wanted me to go down a private road: we fell out about that. Found one of the two car parks in Forest Row (23 hours free parking – that’s as rare as hen’s teeth! And a lovely on-site toilet – who could ask for more?)

Forest Row

Started off badly with the instructions – I don’t think it helped to start from the wrong car park! But Great Britain Outdoors soon had me back on track. Set off by walking through the town and heading off down by a stream, from here the instructions were very simple to follow and I didn’t have much trouble finding the route. In contrast to last week it felt very busy and industrious round here (of course, the weather was far better) but I was never without the hum of some farm machinery, or a dog walker, bike rider or pony trekker. A mixture of streams, fields, tracks, bridle ways, disused railway lines and roads, I enjoyed this one more than usual. I don’t know whether it was the variety or the sunshine but everyone I met was in a good mood. I am also enjoying walking rather than running because you can see more and converse more with people you meet.

Coffee break

I stopped for my coffee break on the bridge over a lively stream – everything was wet from yesterday’s rain so there were no convenient sitting places. Passed a farm with chickens wandering freely in the fields and then on past the spectacular ruins of Brambletye House. This was the home of Sir Henry Compton, built in 1631. It fell into ruin by 1683 said to have happened when the family fled to Spain after Sir James Richards (described as being ‘of Brambletye House’) was accused of treason. Novelist, Horace Smith romanticised the ruin in his book ‘Brambletye House or Cavaliers and Roundheads’ which has confused the history somewhat. The full article is here

Brambletye House

The shop

My shopping today was mainly centred around The Seasons a health food shop in two parts, one near the car park on Lower Road selling mainly fruit and vegetables, cosmetics and toiletries. From there I bought avocados, blueberries and some letterpress Christmas cards and tags.

Letterpress Christmas cards and tags

Then, the main shop is across the road and through the back entrance up some stairs or from Hartfield Road. This is well-stocked with all kinds of grains, nuts, dried fruit, teas, honey and spreads, as well as fresh bread, cheese and tofu. From here I bought brown arborio rice (for a chicken and asparagus risotto I intend to make tomorrow), some Greek yoghurt (which I am having tonight with some roast pears, and some nutritional yeast flakes (which is a substitute for Parmesan apparently).

 The Seasons Health Food Shop

The lunch

Had my lunch – haloumi salad with pomegranate seeds in the car, a woman rapped on my window – I thought she was after my space but she just wanted to express her disbelief and incredulity at the free parking!

Haloumi salad

The farm

Was about to head back to the college when a text came through from Dear Daughter’s TA saying they would be late back from the recycling centre (their trip today) so I took the opportunity to visit Townings Farm shop and bought some chicken and enquired about Christmas cakes. She is taking orders for 5 and 6″ iced ones and 8″ un-iced. I ordered an un-iced one, I usually make my own but I am going to be busy with work from now until Christmas. As I left the large rooster and his hens were pecking about the yard.

Townings Farm Shop

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Cooksbridge and Holmansbridge Farm Shop

19 Nov

The run

Another inauspicious start to the day.

I had decided to do a recovery walk today after running the Brook’s 10k yesterday, gaining a personal best of 48:06 (last year 51:46). I suppose it helps to be a stone lighter and not hungover!
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I began my research with finding a farm shop that is open on Mondays and then found a walk nearby. I decided to go back to Holmansbridge Farm shop which I haven’t visited in about a year.

The walk I found began and ended in Cooksbridge a small village on the A275 which I have driven through many times. It has its own railway station and is mainly made up of modern houses – a commuter village, however according to SussexVillage.net it derived its name from the cooks who fed the soldiers of Simon de Montfort on their way to the battle of Lewes in 1264.
Having read through the walk instructions I felt confident that it would be an easy one but I also had the route plotted on Outdoors Great Britain as back-up. Not a day for getting lost, as although the rain was not heavy it was continuous.

Cooksbridge
The walk began by crossing the railway line and heading off between the houses down to a stream and then up onto some water logged fields.

Cooksbridge

Once again I was glad to have decided on wellington boots. Crossed the railway line once again (freaked me out a bit – an unmanned crossing with signs for the Samaratins either side!

Cooksbridge

And minutes after I crossed a train came charging through!

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The instructions were easy to follow for the most part, with slight confusion at the gap in the hedge and diagonally crossing the field to Hawsey Manor. A bit of walking on the road here, but so quiet! On mornings like this you can truly imagine yourself in the Zombie Apocalypse. Small birds (chaffinch?) flitted ahead of me down the lane, marking my progress. I also saw a rabbit in the field and ducks on the River Ouse.

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I continued down this lane until Ivor’s Lane and a finger post to the River Ouse. Walking along the muddy embankment, this section was quite familiar to me, as I have run or walked it several times on different routes (from Lewes and Southease ). Very desolate this morning.

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Finally turning off under the railway bridge and heading up the Old Coach Road towards The Blacksmiths Arms.

You can imagine rattling along in an old stage coach on the Old Coach Road

You can imagine rattling along in an old stage coach on the Old Coach Road

From here it was a short walk along the main road back to Cooksbridge, however, the rain was coming down hard, and I passed an old stone bus shelter with a nice bench inside and so decided to stop and have my coffee and snack – a pumpkin energy ball and hope for the rain to ease.

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Inside the bus shelter was printed the interesting story of how it came about. Apparently a committee decided in 1935 that a bus shelter should be erected near the church timed to coincide with the Jubilee celebrations of King George V and Queen Mary. Work was started on the foundations shortly afterwards and Lady Shiffner agreed to pay for the wooden bench (on which I am sitting) to go inside. The shelter was not completed in time for the Jubilee celebrations and so the bench was put in place and a ribbon cut by Lady Shiffner. The bench was then removed to the carpenter’s shop where it remained for the next year. There were various hold-ups in the building of the shelter and a year later the committee complained it had reached a standstill and that this was a very poor state of affairs. One reason for the delay was that the road had been re-levelled and was considerably higher than before. The shelter was finally completed in time for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, two years later in 1937.

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The farm

Afterwards I drove to Holmansbridge farm shop which I haven’t visited for a year. Once again they have their large wooden turkey out, advertising their Christmas turkeys. It was with a pang of guilt that I watched the turkey flock from the yard.
The farm shop itself is quite small, mainly consisting of a large meat counter, a large refrigerated area containing cheese, cured meats, smoked salmon and some fruit and vegetables. The rest of the shop has sauces, condiments, tea, coffee, home-made cakes and unrefrigerated fruits and vegetables.
I took my time looking around even though the butcher eagerly approached the counter as I entered. I bought some fruit and vegetables,

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a brand of tea I had not previously seen (I have just had a cup of this and it is really delicious)

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and some smoked salmon. I was interested to see the addition of venison on the meat counter, but having had venison mince delivered in my meat and veg box this week I bought some chicken instead.

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I still had plenty of time before picking dear daughter up, so I decided to go over to Spring Barn Farm to do some Christmas shopping.
Their Christmas shop is now open and the staff were happy to show me their outhouse containing Christmas lights and the area in which their fresh Christmas trees would go.  They have lots of food gifts and hampers and a large selection of Christmas decorations. I looked around for some gifts but couldn’t quite decide on anything. I also enquired about Christmas cakes and they showed me some beautifully decorated ones made by a lady in Worthing, however these were quite small and rather expensive but they did say they would find out a price for an 8″ one. In the end I bought some more ready meals: my son had the black turtle bean chilli for dinner, he said it had a nice spiciness but could have been a little more flavourful. I also bought some smoked Haddock from Springs (it was a toss up between this and the rabbit – so I reckon my husband got off lightly!)

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The lunch

Lunch was eaten in the car: today a tofu salad. My son had bought the tofu as an experiment, but I’m not sure. It was ok but I don’t think I’ll be buying it again. This was with leftover roast sweet potato and an orange dressing.

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Chailey Common and Townings Farm Shop

11 Nov

The run

A terrific thunderstorm in the evening and through the night with lots of heavy rain, so I was not sure what to expect in the morning. There were still showers and so I packed the usual stuff, plus a book, plus Wellington boots as I thought it would still be very muddy on my planned route. I was determined to do the walk/run I had researched for last week that got rained off. I had found a nice walk on Chailey Nature Reserve, and had further prepared by trying an app that my husband is keen on: OutDoors GB. It does need a bit more preparation and you have to purchase the OS maps for the area you want which are quite expensive (East Sussex 1:25k cost £16!). You plot the route ahead of time and then when you are out on your walk/run you can see where you are from the blue dot and where you are supposed to be from the red line.

Outdoors Great Britain app

Outdoors Great Britain app

This was a big help and meant I didn’t get as lost as usual! The walk instructions were quite good, though I did go wrong quite near the beginning. Because of this I did get to St Georges early on instead of towards the end of the walk, but I turned around and retraced my steps until my blue dot was back on my red line!

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As I had suspected the walk was very wet and muddy and I was glad I had put my wellies on and walked rather than run. Some parts were deep puddles or more like walking through streams.

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At the top of the hill I stopped to admire the view and drink some of my coffee and eat my pumpkin protein bar.

Pumpkin protein bar

Pumpkin protein bar

From there the route plunged down into woodland with streams and bridges.

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I didn’t see many people during this part of the walk except when I came to the Philip Ridley Memorial Pond where a man was poking around the pond with a stick. He didn’t talk, in fact he looked away like he really didn’t want to pass the time of day or explain what he was doing. It was a bit creepy actually and I hurried away up the hill to St George’s.

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I was rather intrigued about St George’s – it looks like a little community in its own right. Apparently it used to be a residential school, built in 1932, then used as army accommodation during the war. Now it is used as residences. There is also a windmill on site which you can just see in the photo below:

St George's, Chailey

There is a windmill in here somewhere!

I tried to get a photograph of the windmill but it was quite difficult. I crossed the road and saw my car in the car park – the temptation to cut the walk short was strong but I continued on, around to the memorial stone and met a very sparky group of older people walking dogs – they were very friendly and cheerful and seemed to be having a great time! I was intrigued by the memorial stone which reads:

“You who walk these commons remember with gratitude Gareth Christian and Charles Constant whose loving imagination and unsparing labour led to the establishment of the Chailey Common nature reserve.

Their ashes are scattered on the land they loved 1971″
Memorial Stone Chailey Nature Reserve

Memorial Stone Chailey Nature Reserve

From there it was just a matter of circling around the Heath back to the start.

The farm

Townings Farm Shop

Townings Farm Shop

I had decided to visit one of my favourite farm shops: Townings which I knew was open on a Monday. I bought some apples (dear daughter is making apple crumble tomorrow in food tech), a pheasant – it’s on the approved food list of my clean-eating plan and I’ve never had one before so I decided to go for it! Also bought some ham (rather expensive but I’d rather buy quality) and I couldn’t resist Auntie Val’s English Breakfast Marmalade – I have an Auntie Val! And my husband is rather partial to marmalade.

Townings Farm Shop

Today’s haul

The lunch

Lunch was a healthy salad eaten in the car and a few chapters of Anne Frank which I am reading at the moment.

Lunch on the go

Lunch on the go

Tales from the Secret Annexe, Anne Frank

A rainy day in Lewes

8 Nov

Awoke to hear the rain lashing against the window – really terrible weather, heavy downpours, then easing, repeat… Still. Travel hopefully, I thought and prepared as usual; put on my running gear and packed my bag with spare clothes, snacks, coffee and water but added in my book as a contingency plan.

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On reaching the college and dropping my daughter off, the weather was as bad as ever, so I decided to abandon my original plan and instead head to Lewes and spend the time investigating independent shops for healthy food for my clean eating plan. I parked in Tesco’s car park for the three hours free parking as I thought it would be useful for toilet stops etc! Then walked into town to see what I could find. The first place that caught my interest was Lansdown Health Store on Cliffe High Street in which I spent a long time browsing, finally buying some tea: pukka chai vanilla (I have had this before and it is delicious),  some chia seeds (I had a recipe in mind for this), protein powder, peanut butter and honey (likewise).

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It seemed a very well stocked shop and I would have loved to have bought more but I was conscious of spending too much money and then not finding a use for the products so stuck to things I immediately had a recipe for.

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It was hard to stick to my ‘independent shops’ theme and I was next drawn into Holland and Barrett in the hope of finding the things on my list I couldn’t get in Landsdown Health Store, certainly the maple syrup was cheaper there! I also bought rice cakes and walnuts, which I know you can get at the supermarket but I wanted to experience as many shops as possible and I don’t normally go into Holland and Barrett so it was interesting to look around. They also have a huge range of teas, nuts and seeds and protein powders, although I could only see the flavoured ones.

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I did end up doing some of my shopping at Tescos when I went back for my coffee and snack and to use the toilets, I bought the wraps, almond milk and Total yoghurt there. I was looking for products with less than five ingredients as this is one of the clean eating principles but both the wraps and the almond milk had more. I looked at all the comparable products but they were all the same.

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On walking around Lewes I had found Anne of Cleves house which I had not visited before, unfortunately it opens late on Mondays (the Monday curse!) so was closed, but as I had some time to kill before collecting my daughter I decided to drive back there and see if I could take in some culture. Alas, it was not to be, there were no parking spots and someone was right behind me so I couldn’t dither about, so I headed out of Lewes and was soon on the road to one of my favourite farm shops; Spring Barn Farm. I decided it would make a good lunch stop and I could peruse the shop and see if they had any new and interesting products in light of my clean eating regime. I also thought it would be a good place to buy a couple of ready meals for the boys as I am out early evening on a Monday teaching my evening class.

The farm

It was looking very festive in the shop as they had cleared away all their Hallowe’en stuff and had the Christmas tree up with decorations for sale and a good range of do-it-yourself hampers with some ideas to get you started. I looked all around and noticed they are no longer selling as much Suki tea as they used to, I chose the Vitality tea so I would have a range of teas to try at home. I also bought some Springs smoked trout and two ready meals for the freezer. The verdict on the chilli was very positive – nice big chunks of meat and plenty of it! I have yet to get an opinion from the vegetarian!

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Afterwards I sat in the car and had my lunch – a tuna wrap with lots of salad.

The recipes

So, now to what I made with all this produce. Well, first off, I had some pumpkin purée to use up so I decided to make pumpkin protein bars using the protein powder, peanut butter and honey that I bought. These were very easy to make a are a substantial portable snack.

Next I used the trout in a Scandinavian winter salad with egg, capers and a yoghurt dressing. This went down well with the husband. I must say the trout was expensive though at £8 for 4 fillets.

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Finally, I decided to make the Chia pudding with the Chia seeds, almond milk and maple syrup. You make it the night before and it is ready in the morning for breakfast. Although it tasted nice I found the colour and texture quite off putting so I don’t think I will be making it again. Sorry, all you Chia fans.

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I still intend to make these protein energy balls with the pumpkin purée I have in the freezer along with the maple syrup, walnuts and peanut butter. But more about that later.