Lewes Racecourse.

Lewes racecourse, South Downs.

A gorgeous sunny walk up on Lewes racecourse on the South Downs in East Sussex on the first warm day in May.

Lewes Racecourse shut its doors for the final time in 1964, bringing an end to more than 200 years of history. However it is still an active training centre today and pedestrians and cyclists need to be mindful of racing horses.

The ‘pop up’ Paddock Bar was an unexpected treat and a real pleasure. A bar in a horse box with straw bales for seats. A pint of Sussex cider in the sunshine on the South Downs was a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Hire a mountain bike from Blackcap Bikes: https://www.blackcapbikes.co.uk/

Blackcap Mountain Bike tours and bike hire.

Check out the National Trust walking trail in the Racecourse area; A secluded gem with sunken bostals, a hidden woodland, views over the Weald and fascinating history: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blackcap/trails/a-walk-at-blackcap

Finally have a look at the The Old Racecourse Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/theoldracecourse/ to keep up to date with the area.

The views were amazing and the warm weather and lambs made it feel like Spring had truly arrived. It is definitely a hidden gem and my new favourite place in East Sussex.

Nymans. West Sussex.

Nymans’s-National Trust property in West Sussex- dramatic architecture is part Regency, part pseudo-medieval – and now part ruin, following a fire in 1947. Nothing is quite as it seems…

Been there a few times but last weeks visit had added interest after watching Netflix’s drama The Crown and realising it was the ancestral home of Anthony Armstrong Jones, lord Snowden, husband of Princess Margaret.

It’s beautiful!

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare.

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amusing romantic gossip and goings on in Messina- women trying to snare their men; men trying to escape, then succumbing:

‘When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married’
-Much Ado About Nothing, Act 2 Scene 3

The BBC Radio dramatisation of this Shakespeare comedy , with David Tennant and Emilia Fox is excellent.

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Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book will stay with me for a long time. We hear about freedom fighters on the news- young British Muslims going off to fight the jihad and the horrors this involves, but the huge reality of the consequences and the devastation on themselves and their families is often not comprehended . Kamila Shamsie goes right to the heart of this in succinct, no-nonsense prose. Direct, matter of fact and hard hitting. The words smacked you in the face before you realised what had happened. Enjoyed it? Maybe not. However I was deeply moved.

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The House Share by Kate Helm

The House Share: Seven housemates. Seven lies. Would you dare to join?

The House Share: Seven housemates. Seven lies. Would you dare to join? by Kate Helm

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Always been a bit nervous of house shares with strangers. You never know the hidden depths of your house mates. Now I know I was right to be cautious. Who is your friend and who don’t you trust? Dark secrets and a social experiment keep the pace moving in this psychological narrative.

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England and St. George.

‘…Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

William Shakespeare (from Henry V)

Happy St. George’s Day 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

A Very English Scandal by John Preston.

A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies, and a Murder Plot at the Heart of the Establishment by John Preston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot at the Heart of the Establishment

I grew up in the seventies and remember hearing about the Jeremy Thorpe trial on the six 0’clock news. Liberal politician Jeremy Thorpe was accused of hiring Andrew Newton to murder Norman Scott, whom Jeremy Thorpe had been having a sexual relationship with, when homosexuality was still illegal. Scott had spent many years trying to reveal his sexual relationship with Mr Thorpe, contributing to Mr Thorpe’s loss of leadership of the Liberal party. The case came to trial at the Old Bailey in 1979, where Thorpe was eventually acquitted of conspiracy to murder.
The British Establishment at it’s worst, portrayed very well by John Preston.

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Hellingly, East Sussex.

This Sunday’s walk was part of the Wealdway walk around the Wealden village of Hellingly in East Sussex.

First point of interest was Horse Lunges Manor. This moated manor house, built in 1450 AD was the former home of Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant. He is buried in nearby Hellingly cemetery.

Horse Lunges Manor.

Next up was Horsebridge flour milk, once a thriving, working mill, but now derelict.

This Grade Two Listed old flour mill was built circa 1900, but its history is sketchy, there was a fire between 1908 and 1910, when the mill was rebuilt as a large roller mill. McDougall’s (the flour company)had interests in it at some point.

We also passed a Bow Bells Milestone.

Bow Bells Milestone.

The milestone is one of a series stretching along the A22 and on the A26 giving the distance of miles to Bow Bells Church, in the City of London- erected by Turnpike Trusts that were formed in the 18th Century to improve roads.

It was a beautiful Wealden village walk in the spring sunshine. I had to include a picture of this abandoned outbuilding. It looked like it should be on a film set.

Adrift! A little boat adrift!

Photograph by Emily Dudley

Adrift! A little boat adrift!
And night is coming down!
Will no one guide a little boat
Unto the nearest town?

So Sailors say – on yesterday –
Just as the dusk was brown
One little boat gave up its strife
And gurgled down and down.

So angels say – on yesterday –
Just as the dawn was red
One little boat – o’erspent with gales –
Retrimmed its masts – redecked its sails –
And shot – exultant on!

Emily Dickinson (1830- 1886).

Prevailing Winds.

Loved these trees on our walk this morning. Guess which way the wind blows…!

In the UK the most common winds (known as the prevailing winds) are from the west or south-west. These winds arrive in Britain after crossing the Atlantic Ocean, from which they pick up moisture.

‘O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing…’

Ode to the West Wind, Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792- 1822.