Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce.

Miss Benson's Beetle

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Miss Benson’s search for a Golden Beetle in New Caledonia had me running to the atlas and searching Google images for pictures of shiny beetles. This is a book about being different, about everything not being as it might seem on the surface. It’s about gender difference and class difference. Most of all it is about striving for your dreams and not giving up. Life is for living and going out there and living it, whatever struggle that might entail. And it is about Golden beetles.

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Death Comes Knocking by Graham Bartlett.

Death Comes Knocking: Policing Roy Grace's Brighton

Death Comes Knocking: Policing Roy Grace’s Brighton by Graham Bartlett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I haven’t yet read any of Peter James’s Roy Grace series- set around Brighton and East Sussex. I will do now. James’s books draw on in-depth research into the lives of Brighton and Hove police. His friend Graham Bartlett was a long-serving detective in the city once described as Britain’s ‘crime capital’. Together, in Death Comes Knocking, they have written a gripping account of the city’s most challenging cases. I really enjoyed these real life vignettes of the crime world in and around Brighton, as told by Graham Bartlett- especially fascinated with the chapter on Brighton and Hove Football Club and the policing involved on match days. Looking forward to making my way through the fictional series now.



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Winchelsea, East Sussex.

Today’s walk involved a mini road trip down to Winchelsea in East Sussex, about twenty miles up the coast from my home town in Eastbourne.

The ancient town of Winchelsea, about one and a half miles inland from Winchelsea Beach was once a busy harbour-part of the Cinque-Port alliance. The old town was destroyed by floods in the 13th century, and today the sea has receded some distance from the town.

Parking by the recreation ground we followed an adjacent path to the seafront, taking in quirky homes and proper English countryside. The geese flew over, as did lots of small bi-planes- we were close to Lid airport- and the cuckoo sang loud and long:

What do you do?

In April, I open my bill
In May, I sing night and day
In June, I change my tune
In July, far off I fly
In August, away
I must…

Sang to me as a child in the 1970s by my mother.

Leamington Spa and the Regent Hotel.

Last weekend involved a road trip up to the West Midlands

Wet trip up to Middle England.

And an overnight stay in the Regent Hotel Leamington Spa, now a travel lodge.

It is a beautiful grand old lady of a building and had me wondering about it’s history. Wikipedia told me this:

In 1809, a plot of land was purchased to build the hotel on, which cost £1,000. The foundation stone was laid eight years later, on 18 July 1818 by the granddaughter of the original landowner. The hotel was officially opened on 19 August 1819. The hotel opened as Williams Hotel, but 3 weeks later was renamed The Regent by permission of the then Prince Regent (George IV). In 1830 Princess Victoria, then aged 11, apparently stayed overnight at the hotel with her father. Eight years later from the balcony of the hotel it was announced that Victoria, now Queen, had allowed the prefix Royal on its name, which the town still bears to the day. Moving to more modern times, the cast and crew of the British comedy Keeping Up Appearances stayed at the hotel whilst filming in Leamington. For some years now the hotel has been a Grade II listed building and in 1998 the hotel closed its doors. In 2003 however it was decided that the hotel was to be extensively redecorated and refurbished as part of a scheme to regenerate the surrounding area.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regent_Hotel

Leamington was also beautiful on a chilly May Sunday morning. I love the architecture and the wide tree- lined avenues.

Couldn’t live in the Midlands. The draw of the coast is too strong, not to mention the warmer climes in the South East of England. However there is still something magical about the Shires- historical and literary.

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!