Tag Archives: Offham Farm Shop

The Chalk Pits and Offham Farm Shop

28 Jan

The walk

Attempting today a walk I was going to do a few weeks ago, which I didn’t manage due to issues of finding parking. Today, I was better prepared – there are three parking lay-bys but all on the wrong side of a very fast road, so as I drove past I noted which one was nearest my walk’s starting point and then continued on the road until it was safe to turn round.

This walk starts from the Jubilee bus stop at Offham and heads straight up the hill to the chalk pits.

Offham Chalk Pits

I was expecting a brighter start to the day, yesterday had been beautiful, sunny and frosty for our run in Bramber, but today was damp, grey, albeit warmer.

Protected Wildlife Site

This area has been designated a protected wildlife site due to its habitat, probably due to the chalky terrain.

So, a grey Monday morning and a fierce walk uphill all the way to the top of Treacle Mines, (I have been trying to find out where the name ‘Treacle Mines’ comes from but the nearest I can find is in this article about the Battle of Lewes where the troops were said to ‘come to a sticky end’) and on to a wonderful view towards Lewes and the spectacular Offham chalk pit.

View towards lewes

Chalk pits, Offham

Chalk mining was a big industry between 1809–1890, where the chalk was used to make lime for fertiliser. In order to get the chalk down from the quarry for transportation on the River Ouse, a funicular railway was built. You can read the full story here.

There was a good information board which had some augmented reality features but unfortunately my phone did not pick up the content.

Chalk Pits information board

From there I walked a little further on to a gate to a field with a sign which said ‘NO SHEEP IN THIS FIELD’ and, yes, you guessed it, it was full of sheep. Dropped down through the field and crossed a main road, then followed a Tarmac path down to Offham Road and on through a housing estate.

Offham

By this time I was about ready for a coffee break, and, spotting an empty bus shelter, decided it would make a good stop. Within a few minutes people began arriving at the bus stop, first an older woman, smartly dressed in black with bright pink lipstick, and then a younger girl. I felt obliged to explain to my audience that I was not, in fact, waiting for a bus but just having a break in my walk.

Bus stop coffee break

The older lady was very chatty and heartily approved of my breakfast stop, warned me to be careful out there – you youngsters she said, going off on your own – youngster! Well I am nearly 48 but I readily accepted the compliment. We also discussed ‘cardiac hill’ (which apparently is School Hill in Lewes), Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (which she had seen at Eastbourne cinema when it came out) before I bade them farewell and completed the walk, along the Old Coach Road – extremely churned up and muddy – and back to Hamsey and the Jubilee bus stop.

Hamsey church

The farm

I decided to keep local today and so I decided to revisit Offham Farm Shop, which I knew would be quiet and I could possibly get some work done in the café. 

Offham Farm Shop

It is not a big shop or an extensive café, mainly focusing on their meat counter, good value meat boxes and a range of home made pies. There is also a small selection of vegetables, cheese, ready meals and ice cream. For lunch there are sandwiches, soup, and sausage rolls. Generously sized cakes are also an option!

Offham Farm

Next week’s sausage rolls?

 I bought some lovely honey with nuts – it is expensive but a spoonful of that on some Greek yoghurt and breakfast is sorted!

English honey

The lunch

From the menu, I chose the soup of the day which was tomato. It came served with some fresh crusty bread and both were of generous proportions – quite a bargain for £4.50!

Offham Tea Room

 

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

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…