Tag Archives: farm shops

Abbots Wood and Sharnfold Farm Shop

2 Jul

The run

This will be the last blog post until September as my daughter’s course at Plumpton College finishes today.

I had planned a route from a pub in Arlington which had also mentioned forest trails, so when I saw signs for a Forestry Commision car park I decided to turn off and try that instead.

And so I found myself in the very pleasant surroundings of Abbots Wood. I was a bit concerned I wouldn’t have change for the pay and display (having expected to park for free) but you could also pay by parking app which is becoming popular all over Brighton (and I love – soooo much easier – though irritating you have to pay slightly more for it).

Abbots Wood

Abbots Wood

It’s well set up here with toilets, BBQ hire (ring to arrange this), picnic tables, play equipment for kids, and two different forest trails; a shorter one (less than a mile) and a longer one (less than three miles). Ideal for taking younger kids for a runaround. A lake and rope swings part way round add interest.

Rent a BBQ

Rent a BBQ

I began with the longer route, easy to follow yellow signs meant no getting lost and well maintained paths made for easy running. This area is very popular with dog walkers and I imagine would be pretty busy at weekends.

Map of Abbots Wood

Map of Abbots Wood

The lake was very pretty and I paused to reflect and watch a dog cooling off in there. Everyone I met was very friendly even if the black Labrador puppy was a bit enthusiastic and jumped up to give me his paws.

The Lake, Abbots Wood

The Lake, Abbots Wood

On the second time around I followed the red route – a bit short really but would be good for young kids- I couldn’t resist a go on the rope swing as I went past!

The rope swing

The rope swing

After the run I found a picnic bench and sat and wrote my blog with some coffee and Nigel Slater’s chocolate banana bread – find the recipe here (it’s a good one – I’ve made it at least three times now)

Chocolate banana bread

Chocolate banana bread

The farm

En route to the farm shop I had to brake sharply rounding a corner in order to let a mummy duck and her duckling cross the road!

On to Sharnfold Farm shop which certainly has a lot going on! As well as an excellent farm shop with a large fresh meat counter, they also have freezers full of fresh fruit, vegetables, croissants, fish cakes and Cook ready meals plus local ales, cooking sauces, confectionary and greetings cards. A busy coffee shop serving a variety of cakes and lunches comprising quiche, soup, paninis and jacket potatoes.

Outside on the terrace is a view of the children’s play area. They also have a big PYO (pick your own) business, including soft fruits, and vegetables – shame I didn’t need anything!

PYO

PYO

For the summer they have planned tasting weekends, lawnmower racing and a camping weekend with BBQ.

Very busy and popular, even on a Wednesday; mainly with parents and small children and retired people. The conversation; that woman’s disgusting tattoos, High Wycombe and obsessive cleaning habits.

There is also a farm trail with a choice of routes, tractor and trailer rides and activities and games on the way round.

Sharnfold Farm Trail

Sharnfold Farm Trail

 The lunch

Decided to stay where I was although there had been many fine looking eateries en route; at Arlington: the Arlington Tea Rooms looked good and there was the pub I was going to start from The Old Oak Inn, but I decided to walk around the farm trail and come back for lunch at the farm coffee shop. The trail is free but they do like you to purchase food at the cafe and picnics are not allowed.

Sharnfold Farm shop

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Southease and Spring Barn Farm (again!)

18 Jun

The run

Parking at Southease station (over a rickety bridge in the middle of nowhere) I followed the second route from a series that I found here. Good clear instructions – no ambiguity or getting lost today!

IMG_4792

River Ouse

River Ouse

It began with an easy flat alongside the River Ouse, popular with dog walkers (I made a few new friends including a greyhound and a terrier!), before turning off towards the village of Rodmell, where I was greeted by the sound of a woodpecker hammering away against a tree! Here you can find Monk’s House, home of Virginia and Leonard Woolfe. Looks like it would be worth a visit one day.

Monk's House

Monk’s House

Rodmell is a very pretty little village with roses-round-the-door and thatched cottages. Here I met a pretty tortoiseshell cat.

Rodmell Village

Rodmell Village

Passing through the village and into farmland (thankfully no cows) and across a field of peas, where I met another small dog, comically jumping up from the peas as it tried to orientate itself – if I was a more skilful photographer I would have taken a picture.

Field of Peas

Field of Peas

A small amount of road running followed before turning up through Northease Farm (where they make Breaky Bottom wine), and on up to the Downs.

Breaky Bottom

Breaky Bottom

Farm track all the way and not too steep, with all the cows safely where they should be – on the other side of the fence!

My nemesis

My nemesis

Turning left along the top of the downs I met some German walkers enjoying the countryside.

South Downs

I ran along the top for a few minutes before pelting down the other side to a farm and following the road back to Southease.

Downward pelt!

Downward pelt!

 

Southease Church

Southease Church

The farm/The lunch

I hadn’t researched a new farm shop and the one I passed on the way was closed today, so I headed back in the hope of finding a hidden gem with a fallback of Spring Barn Farm which is where I find myself now. It really is very good here, with spacious toilets for the runner to get changed, a fully-stocked farm shop, good-looking staff and a cafe serving delicious home made food and Suki tea. What’s not to like?

Goats cheese salad and red berry tea

Goats cheese salad and red berry tea

The cafe conversation: Swanage, starting school, dog poo, the sponsored walk, ‘meaningful children’s books’ (Alice in Wonderland, The Bible)

Spring Barn Farm

Today’s Spring Barn Farm haul

 

Glynde and Spring Barn Farm

21 May

The run

Having passed the sign for Glynde many times I decided to make it my mission to find a run in the area. After a quick search on the internet I found a couple of 6-ish mile routes from Lewes to Glynde and back and also one which began and ended in Glynde. Find the route here. I decided on the latter partly because I am a right skinflint and don’t want to pay to park in Lewes and partly to drive somewhere different.

Glynde seemed quite busy for a small village, with cars whizzing through and several walkers and cyclists. I parked in the Main Street and began following the instructions for the walk. It all started off well enough, I enjoy following these step-by-step instructions, until point 3 when we were supposed to go through a gate to the top of Mount Caburn and then retrace our steps back to point 3 – why would I want to do that? It didn’t make sense no matter how many times I read it, retrace my steps?

The offending instruction

The offending instruction

I ended up circling  a nettly field to no avail before spotting a runner ahead and realised that was the way to go. The ‘retracing’ steps still didn’t make sense though, you basically headed to the summit of Mount Caburn and then hopped over a stile and ran down to the valley floor.

Mount Caburn

Mount Caburn

So, the ran began with a gentle uphill and then a sloping downhill to a dew pond that was surrounded by COWS!!! If you have read my blog before you will know that I am not a fan of the ruminators. I checked the instructions several times to ensure it was absolutely necessary to cross the field and looked up to see a couple of walkers crossing the field in the opposite direction. ‘Safety in numbers’ I thought and set off to meet them. Checked directions with them and admitted to my fear of cows before heading away towards Lewes Golf Club at the top of the hill.

Glynde

Uphill out of Glynde

Cows - from a safe distance!

Cows – from a safe distance!

Instructions were to go through the golf course but I felt very out of place among the smart lady golfers: they looked like the equivalent of yummy mummies only with golf caddies instead of buggies. Breathtaking views of Lewes on one side and the South Downs National Park on the other made it all worthwhile though.

Lewes

Lewes

South Downs National Park

South Downs National Park

Ran down the access road out of the golf course and, as per the instructions turned sharply right up some steps where I bumped into a couple of fairies making a movie – much to my surprise! Continued back up onto the golf course again which I had to try and cross but all the signs warning of flying balls were panicking me even though there wasn’t a golfer in sight! I could just imagine myself lying with a concussion on the 9th hole waking up and not knowing who I was (aka Goldie Hawn in Overboard!)

Memorial at Lewes Golf Course

Memorial at Lewes Golf Course

Skirted round the edge and eventually found a stile to get out and….uurgh…another field of cows! ‘Bold and confident’ I repeated to myself as I strode across the field – why does one always sit right in front of the gate you are trying to go through?

More confusion with directions here – instructions to continue to the Dew Pond threw me until I realised there were two Dew Ponds on the map. Saw another walker up ahead so decided to follow her. I hope I didn’t freak her out too much as I ran closer. Good instructions until I reached the second Dew Pond and was supposed to be skirting a quarry which I never found. Views of Glyndebourne: check. It would be nice to go there one day.  The instructions from there did not make sense so perhaps I went wrong somewhere? Whilst perusing my instructions I managed to stumble into a nettle patch and my calves and ankles are smarting still! Dropped down onto the road by Glyndebourne and decided to finish the run on the road – about 1.5 miles. Not particularly pleasant due to the narrow road and traffic but as the phone was nearly out of juice I couldn’t risk getting lost in the countryside.

IMG_4690

The lunch

I decided to move on as Glynde didn’t look too promising for lunch and produce. There is a post office, general stores and tea rooms and an interesting looking blacksmith’s forge but all seemed very sleepy after the morning rush so I made my way to the wonderful Spring Barn Farm where I knew I would get a good lunch. The food is excellent, albeit a little dark in the cafe and frequented by toddlers. I chose the feta salad with couscous and humous and a pot of the delicious Suki tea: Earl Grey Blue Flower and sat and wrote my blog and thanked my lucky stars I no longer have toddlers.

Earl Grey Blue Flowers Suki Tea

Earl Grey Blue Flowers Suki Tea

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Chilli feta, humous and couscous salad

East Hoathly and Martins Wood Farm Shop

7 May

The run

A day of sunshine and showers in East Hoathly: a pretty little village boasting two pubs – both serving food and one adjacent to the Stables Brewery. Also a village stores, hairdressers and gift shop come coffee shop. (Was intrigued by the listing of ‘prawns’ under the ‘cakes’ section of the menu?)

East Hoathly Church

East Hoathly Church

Took a route out of the village past the Norman church and down a footpath past the village school. I am at last being rewarded now with bluebell woods and birdsong.

East Hoathly

East Hoathly

Following alongside fields and over stiles signposted for the Weald. Very many large houses here with foreboding metal gates or stone gatekeepers.

East Hoathly

East Hoathly

Horsey country too and as I passed through a stud farm I saw three horse’s graves.

The Weald Walk, East Hoathly

The Weald Walk, East Hoathly

Beautiful lush verdant fields, wet from the rain shower and crying out to be run through with open arms belting out ‘The Hills are Alive…’

The Weald Walk, East Hoathly

“The Hills are Alive…”

This romantic dream was somewhat shattered by a small terrier who seemed intent for my ankles and barked furiously as I trotted past. Summoning all my courage, I stopped, shouted ‘NO!’ whilst pointing and sent him packing.

From there it was a road run back to the village – I should have traversed a few more fields but my instructions were a little out of date and I missed the narrow path I was looking for beside a cottage that must have been re-named.

Bench, East Hoathly

Bench, East Hoathly

The farm

My second attempt to find Martins Wood Farm on Ripe Lane which I nearly missed again having driven past, ended up in Ripe and then driven back to the farm. If you follow the sat nav it takes you about half a mile down the lane.

Parked up outside by the duck pond and all the chicken runs and chickens. Before I even got to the shop I was immediately met by a friendly chap who asked me how how he could help, I was a bit taken aback until I realised their main business is selling lay chickens and chicken runs – they will even board your chickens while you are on holiday!

The shop is quite limited in its selection of food – jams, chutney, eggs (of course) and a freezer with lamb, sausages and ice cream. It certainly is the place to come if you want chickens and chicken accessories though, books about keeping chickens, chicken feed, chicken-related gifts, such as egg stands and mini frying pans (I bought one as a gift for my son who is in the middle if his IB exams). Wasn’t much of a place for browsing, though I did have a nice chat with the guy who was serving about my early experience of keeping chickens and how upset the ‘pecking order’ used to make me feel.

 

Farm shop haul

Farm shop haul: Martins Wood and Offham farm shops

 

The lunch

From there I headed back to the wonderful Offham Farm Shop and tearoom for a lukewarm pasty and a cuppa and some more produce, including their chicken and mushroom pies and a beautiful bloomer. They have asparagus in season (which I had to buy) and are doing a new range of olive oil.

A snuggle of piglets

A snuggle of piglets

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

 

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

Firle to Alfriston

15 Jan

The run

You know when you start something and you think to yourself; “this is really stupid”? That is the feeling I had today setting off from Firle car park with the intention of running to Alfriston as part of my half-marathon training. 10 miles. Across country. By myself. In the pissing rain…

Firle Estate

And so I sent a text to the husband telling him time and place of set off, and began, as usual with a route all planned and downloaded from Walk, Jog, Run, and as usual it quickly became apparent that I didn’t have a clue where I was going. Firle Estate is quite intriguing, it reminds me of one of those villages that is completely owned by the estate and all the houses are similar, it also looked like the ideal setting for a murder drama! As I set out, following a farm track along one of the walls of the estate, it seemed that perhaps I could just follow the wall around the estate if I was going to get totally lost.

Firle Estate

One of the few people I saw on the run was a woman walking her dog through a particularly muddy stretch. As I cheerily shouted “Good morning” she peered at me through the long snout of her parka incredulously as if to say “what on earth are you doing, I am only out here because of the dog, but you are clearly mad.”

Firle Estate

The rain was that fine sort, that doesn’t feel too bad at first, but eventually, gets you totally soaked, and as it was gusting off the hills on fairly open farmland I did get drenched. Very muddy underfoot and it wasn’t long before my trainers were caked in mud and my feet utterly saturated with a couple of fine stones rolling around inside my shoes due to the small holes that have developed in the mesh. I was, however heartened to see, from my app that I was en route to Alfriston by following the farm tracks.

Firle Estate

Pheasants are truly silly birds, aren’t they? If only they sat quietly when you ran past, instead of taking to the air with such a row, they would probably fare a lot better. I heard some shooting in the distance and once again imagined myself in some two-part drama on BBC One confronting a lone gunman or drug cartel.

Firle Estate

Continued on past Bopeep Bostal and onwards to Berwick Church and farm, passing by what looked like someone’s Grand Designs.

Berwick Church

Just beyond here I was surprised to arrive on the road to Alfriston by Drusillas zoo – only 1.5 miles to my midway point. It had taken the best part of an hour though and it was a relief to arrive in Alfriston, avail myself of the facilities and bolster myself up with a few Jelly Babies for the return journey. Sent the husband a quick text to say I had arrived then had a quick look around the village at the tea shops and gift shops in case I wanted to return.

Alfriston

The plan had been to go a different way back but I could see the phone battery was running low and didn’t want to risk getting lost with no app to help so decided to return the way I had come. Part way back the phone battery gave up completely so it was obviously the right thing to do. I arrived back at the car at 12.30pm having had a quick look at the produce on sale outside the Firle post office and at the Ram Inn but decided there wasn’t really enough time for lunch before picking up dear daughter.

The lunch

I stopped off at Offham Farm Shop to grab something I could eat in the car (driving while hungry is supposed to be as bad as drink driving!). I felt quite guilty walking past the pigs with a sausage roll in my hand…

On returning home I was surprised to find the husband in the house just preparing a search party for Firle as I had not replied to his text asking if I had arrived back at the car park yet…oops…

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.

IMG_3370 IMG_3374

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.

Barcombe

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. 

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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