Cuckmere Valley to Birling Gap.

Last Sunday saw us walking another stretch of the South Downs from the Cuckmere Valley to Birling Gap.

Cuckmere Valley is a civil parish in the Wealden District of East Sussex, England. As its name suggests, the parish consists of a number of small settlements in the lower reaches of the River Cuckmere.

Birling Gap is an idyllic coastal hamlet nestled between the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head. It is famous for its Coastguard Cottages and Cliff Falls.

It was a tough but exhilarating walk across four of the Seven Sisters, helped along with a flask of sweet tea and a Mars Bar in a sheltered spot.

Pevensey Roman Fort and Castle

A Sunday morning walk around Pevensey Castle this morning. Pevensey in East Sussex played a role in some of the most important events in history from the Norman invasion and ‘the Anarchy’ to the Peasants Revolt and the Second World War.

A Roman fort it was built in the 290s, sacked by raiders in 471 and left abandoned for a century, then re-inhabited in the 6th century. The Normans built a castle in the Roman fort and over the next few centuries it was held by Royal favourites. It then again fell into ruin, but was used by soldiers in World War 2, when Sussex prepared for invasion.

Currently the Castle is closed due to the pandemic, but opens again late spring. Check out the English Heritage website for more information:

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/pevensey-castle/

South Downs Smugglers and Coastguards.

I walked a National Trust section of the South Downs this morning, from Went Hill to Brass Point.

Walking, my mind was full of mariners tales, coastguards, forgotten villages and smugglers- all fighting to survive in the rugged and wild conditions.

I will never tire of this landscape and its rich history!

A Smuggler’s Song.

If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse’s feet,
Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street;
Them that ask no questions isn’t told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark —
Brandy for the Parson,
Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, 
While the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don’t you shout to come and look, nor use ’em for your play.
Put the brishwood back again — and they’ll be gone next day!

If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining’s wet and warm — don’t you ask no more!

If you meet King George’s men, dressed in blue and red,
You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you “pretty maid,” and chuck you ‘neath the chin,
Don’t you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one’s been!

Knocks and footsteps round the house — whistles after dark —
You’ve no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty’s here, and Pincher’s here, and see how dumb they lie —
They don’t fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!

If you do as you’ve been told, ‘likely there’s a chance,
You’ll be given a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood —
A present from the Gentlemen, along o’ being good!

Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark —
Brandy for the Parson,
‘Baccy for the Clerk;
Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie —
Watch the wall, my darling,
While the Gentlemen go by!

By Rudyard Kipling.

Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team

Chaplaincy Headquarters

A shout out to these amazing guys.

‘…a valued search and rescue charity that seeks to save lives at Beachy Head, East Sussex.

We patrol on foot and by car and respond to emergency calls locating anyone at risk.

Using our skills in crisis intervention we offer supportive listening, to start a dialogue and to encourage more hopeful solutions than suicide.

We work alongside local services helping people to access support. All our chaplains are Christians and are members of local churches.’

https://bhct.org.uk/

Eastbourne Carpet Gardens.

Carpet Gardens early 1900s

The famous Carpet Gardens are the centrepiece of Eastbourne’s Promenade with vibrant displays of bedding plants and special planting features. It was around 1904 that they first appeared on the Grand Parade near the pier. It is not known who first thought of adorning the sea front with some such a gorgeous display of horticulture but Eastbourne Borough Council do a fantastic job in creating year round displays to reflect the seasons.

Above is an early postcard of the gardens. Make a future date to come and see them how they are now in our beautiful town.

Storm Ciara and Spring Tides

Storm Ciara hit the UK with a vengeance today 9th February. Billed as the Storm of the Century, gales reaching over 70 mph in places have disrupted air, sea, rail and road travel.

Met office weather forecast

It’s not been all bad though. A British Airways flight made the fastest subsonic New York to London journey. The Boeing 747-436 reached speeds of 825 mph (1,327 km/h) as it rode a jet stream accelerated by Storm Ciara.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7983919/British-Airways-records-fastest-transatlantic-flight-Storm-Ciara-blows-jet-US.htmlMore info about AMP

It’s been spectacular on Eastbourne Seafront, where Ciara combined with a full moon and spring tides to give a pretty amazing weather picture.

Eastbourne Pier

A spring tide is a tide after a new or full moon, when there is the greatest difference between high and low water. A spring tide or ‘King Tide’ refers to the ‘springing forth’ of the tide during new and full moon.

High waters

The Fisherman.

Eastbourne, East Sussex January 2020.

The Fisherman

By W. B. Yeats

Although I can see him still.
The freckled man who goes
To a grey place on a hill
In grey Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies,
It’s long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.
All day I’d looked in the face
What I had hoped ‘twould be
To write for my own race
And the reality;
The living men that I hate,
The dead man that I loved,
The craven man in his seat,
The insolent unreproved,
And no knave brought to book
Who has won a drunken cheer,
The witty man and his joke
Aimed at the commonest ear,
The clever man who cries
The catch-cries of the clown,
The beating down of the wise
And great Art beaten down.

Maybe a twelvemonth since
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face,
And grey Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark under froth,
And the down-turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream;
A man who does not exist,
A man who is but a dream;
And cried, ‘Before I am old
I shall have written him one
poem maybe as cold
And passionate as the dawn.’

“The Fisherman”, published in 1916, depicts Yeats’ considerations into the loss of Irish tradition through the persona of a fisherman.

This image, caught on my Eastbourne seafront run last Sunday morning, made me think of The Fisherman by W. B Yeats.

English Seaside Saturday.

I often think that there is nothing more depressing than an English seaside town in January, however I quite enjoyed a winter Eastbourne Pier this afternoon.

So a little information about the pier:

Work began on Eastbourne pier with a working capital of £15,000 in April 1866 and was completed in 1872. The pier is 300 meters long and built on stilts, which rest in cups on the seabed allowing the whole structure to move during rough weather. During the Second World War decking was removed to host machine guns to provide a useful advantage point to repel enemy landings. In December 1942, an exploding mine caused considerable damage to the pier and nearby hotels. It’s 1000 seat theatre was then destroyed by a fire in 1970 and was replaced with an evening entertainment venue that has since become home to Atlantis Nightclub, The Waterfront Cafe/Bar. In 2014 the pier caught fire again, this time destroying the large arcade and saloons in the midway. Mr Sheikh Abid Gulzar a local hotelier, brought the pier in November 2015.

All the fun of the Pier.?

The pier also used to have a Paddle Steamer service, (wish I had been around to see this) operated by P and A Campbell, who ran trips from the pier along the south coast and across the English Channel to Bolougne, France from 1906 until the outbreak of World War Two. The service was resumed after the war, but then gradually withdrawn. Culturally the Pier has appeared in various Agatha Christie ‘Poirot’ episodes, the 2001 film Last Orders and the 2008 film Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging. In addition the 2010 version of Brighton Rock used Eastbourne Pier to stand in for Brighton’s Palace Pier.

Looking out from the pier west towards Brighton.

A wander on it passed a grey January afternoon nicely.