Tag Archives: Firle

Berwick and Chilley Farm Shop

14 May

The run

IMG_4572

Have done a few runs around this area now, starting at Firle usually, but this one started at Berwick and headed off up the Downs in a ‘knee cracker’ of a run as my husband would put it! Up to the top of the Downs and then a gentle run back down before Alfriston.

IMG_4579

Beautiful scenery all around and only met a few people on the route; a plane passed overhead, a mountain biker whizzed past and I stopped to ask directions from a lady with a dog. Beautiful run through fields with the spire of Berwick church on the horizon.

IMG_4593

A few thoughts of serial killers flitted through as I passed through the jungle area at the foot if the Downs, but were soon replaced with elation as I took in the breathtaking views.

IMG_4569

Machetes at the ready!

Berwick church was a treat. A painting group were milling around the churchyard and inside, which emboldened me to go in and see the wonderful murals of Duncan Grant, Quentin Bell and Vanessa Bell.

The farm

From there I drove onward to Polegate. It’s funny as I grew up in Scotland near places called Polegate and Berwick. I headed up a windy track to Chilley Farm Shop for refreshments. There I found a wonderful little farm shop, cafe and dog grooming parlour and I immediately ordered my second breakfast! I was starving after the run and hadn’t had a snack and flask of coffee as usual.

Second breakfast

Second breakfast

Sitting in the beautiful sunshine at one of the outside picnic tables I was amused by a troupe of cheeky sparrows all egging each other on who could go on the table and beg a crumb or two.

After my delicious breakfast I wandered around the farm where they had a few goats, pigs and chickens on display and a small children’s playground.

IMG_4607 IMG_4608 IMG_4610

In the farm shop itself, all was industry – a butcher worked at the back while two women made pies behind the serving counter. A good meat counter, selection of vegetables and a freezer of pies, breads and scones as well as all the usual jams, chutneys and sauces. I decided to buy three small frozen pies for the freezer and a couple of fruit scones.

Back, and arriving a little early to the Offham farm shop (all roads lead to Offham!) for a cup of tea and a slice of (the biggest piece of) Millionaire shortbread (ever).

IMG_4618

 

 

 

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…

Clayton and Offham Farm Shop

11 Oct

The run

This is a run I know well, most notably from participating in the Dewpond 7 (Sunday 22nd July 2012). This was my first race and I set off too hard (the encouragement of the marshall’s ringing in my ears “You’re doing great, first lady through”) only to fade later and be overtaken –  here’s a pic of me toiling through it – a truly horrible experience on a very hot day!

Dewpond 7 July 2012

Anyway, thankfully today’s run was nothing like that – it wasn’t exactly the same route either: the plan was to run from Clayton to Ditchling Beacon and back.

2013-10-11 11.29.37

It starts with a punishing uphill from Clayton Rec – within seconds you are out of breath and fighting to keep going, but once up on the Downs it becomes a pleasant off-road route on well-worn tracks surrounded by beautiful scenery. Saw several walkers and dog walkers: always mindful to greet them with a big cheery ‘hello’ (those serial killers are never far from my mind) so they would remember me.

IMG_3022

Straight up the hill to the Jack and Jill windmills

IMG_3029

Autumn colour in the hedgerows

IMG_3030

Why do bullocks congregate near the gate?

I am 47-years-old. I am scared of cattle. There, I’ve said it. Nervously entered the field with the bullocks and lightly jogged past them so as to not startle them. Always with my eye on an escape route, should I need it: a hedge or fence to dive over – maybe all that training for Warrior Run would pay off after all! On reaching the car park at Ditchling Beacon I looked for the ice cream van (wasn’t there – why would it be?) did a circuit of the car park and headed back to Clayton – bit easier with a nice pelt downhill at the end! Was tempted to do a victory lap of the recreation field as I had at Dewpond 7 but felt slightly self-conscious with the dog walker looking on!

The farm

I had high expectations for Offham Farm Shop as their roadside advertising is very good; along the lines of: “You are passing an excellent farm shop” so it had been on my radar since week 1. Therefore, when I walked in (having allowed plenty of time) I was a little disappointed to see a cold counter, a fridge, and a table of produce – not much here to while away a couple of hours, I thought. I had time to peruse the baked goods on offer and study the menu as no-one seemed in a rush to serve me. A fairly ordinary selection of lunchtime fayre such as soup, sandwiches, pies and sausage rolls. The cakes looked more interesting (don’t they always!): almond slices, homemade cookies, rocky road fridge cake etc. This felt more like a working farm with a small cafe and shop rather than some of the more ‘attraction’ led farms I had been to. The butcher was seen out back chopping up the meat while his wife (she says presumptuously) bustled around the cafe and made the pies and cakes. The speciality here being: good honest, plain food, largely consisting of meat and pastry. For my purchase this week I chose a beef and venison pie which was delicious and chock full of good quality meat. I was tempted by the pork and marmite sausages but they will have to wait for another occasion.

Beef and venison pie, Offham Farm Shop

The lunch

As it was too early for lunch,  I settled on an apricot and almond slice and a mug of coffee before finding a seat in the cafe where a man sat at a table, napping quietly, threatening to slide off his chair. I sat reading the newspaper for an hour enjoying the slow trade of truck-stop clientele and the grandmother with her grandson who chanted incessantly “I want a baby ‘cino with a marshmallow” – “you won’t get that here, son” I thought as she distracted him with a toasted muffin. Time passed and I decided to order the soup and crusty bread from the uninspiring menu. The soup was reasonable but the bread was clearly supermarket wholemeal sliced which was a disappointment, especially as they had some fine-looking crusty bread for sale in their shop. In the yard outside they had a few of their animals on show: pigs and piglets, sheep and chickens as well as three black-and-white sheepdogs who hunkered down and looked as though they would like to round you up as you passed by.

piglets at Offham Farm

Next week’s sausages?

The freebie

Our erstwhile hitchhiker, Simon has suggested next week’s run, so that shall be our freebie of the day.

Streat and Middle Farm

9 Oct

The run

My friends, who live locally, recommended this route through Streat and past the Half Moon Pub. The run began at the corner of Streat Lane and was mainly on quiet-ish country roads. I passed through the pretty village of Streat before heading off past Plumpton racecourse where I needed to ask a fellow runner – the only one I saw – to check I was going in the right direction. Fairly flat and circular, my only criticism of this route is that it is mainly on roads and when a car does come along you feel the need to dive into the hedge!

Streat circular run

The farm

I headed off to Middle Farm in Firle for lunch and to buy some produce from the farm shop, this is a farm I know pretty well from visits with children and stopovers from the A27. The shop is really excellent and sells a wide range of goods from fresh meat, bread, pies and pasties to jams and chutneys made on the farm. They also do a great line in cider, so I am told. I bought some of their Strawberry and Gooseberry Jam which I enjoyed with my friend Margaret on some homemade scones at the weekend.

Homemade scones with Strawberry and Gooseberry Jam from Middle Farm, Firle

The lunch

I ummed and aawed about whether I had time for lunch in the cafe, it was a nice day so to sit in the car eating a pastie wasn’t really appealing. I decided to order one of the specials: a roast squash quiche with salad. I took a seat outside and amused myself watching the toddlers run around, listening to the Mums discussing their off springs latest feats. 15 minutes passed. 20 minutes passed. I was beginning to get twitchy as I had to collect my daughter from Plumpton College and I was running out of time. I prompted the staff who assured me it wouldn’t be long, however it was rushed when it finally came and spoiled the enjoyment. Didn’t quite understand it because they weren’t particularly busy…perhaps I just have to adjust to a slower pace..

The freebie

My friend, Mustak gave me a big box of cooking apples from his garden, so far we have made crumble, chutney, an apple cake, and there’s even talk of a strudel…

Cooking apples

I have a few takers for this already:

Spiced apple chutney