Sunday, September 30, 2007


6th September Southease Bridge and village.

On a beautiful September morning we drove to the south of Lewes.
Our first stop was Southease Bridge, spanning the River Ouse - which has its source near to Ardingly and flows through Lewes down to the sea at Newhaven.

Southease is a part of camp (childhood holidays) really - though some distance from it. We regularly rode our bikes to Newhaven to swim, explore rock pools and play.
There were 2 possible routes and sometimes we would return on the far side of the river, entailing a crossing of the bridge.
It it was always a rickety bridge, I thought. But underneath was much machinery and cogs so that the bridge could be opened to allow for the passing of taller boats using Lewes.

The tide was quite low when we were there - Southease is only about 4 miles from the sea.
In the middle of the bridge you can see the little hut where the bridge keeper would have spent his working life, ready to open the swing bridge when needed.

You can see how the near section sits on a device that can be turned.
It would not be necessary these days - tall ships do not pass up river to Lewes now. In fact I would guess they mostly sailed down to Newhaven for in the last century Lewes had a small ship building industry.

I must have seen this view many times - over the bridge to Iford Hill - the next one to Beddingham Hill - where the tents were sited.
You may have heard of the author Virginia Woolf. I confess I have read none of her work, for it always seemed rather intense and difficult.
She was an intense woman and committed suicide in the river. I somehow always thought that she threw herself from the bridge; maybe her body was found quite near it. She lived in the next village, Rodmell, and when her mental illness became intolerable she filled her coat pockets with heavy stones and walked into The Ouse quite near her home. Her body was not discovered for almost 3 weeks. This was in 1941.

But for us this was a joyful place - look at the brilliant blue sky.
We are looking across the river and the water meadows towards Lewes.
You can just see the white stone castle ruins towering above the town.

Through the gateway is Mount Caburn - a constant view from camp, though at a different angle of course.

The cows were very friendly and came along to greet us as we walked by the river.

Nice creatures cows!

Blackberry bushes along the lane. Those at the top of the bush in this picture don't appear to be large and luscious, but I assure you that lower down were some very good and tasty fruits.

We stopped briefly in the village of Southease - about half a mile from the river.
Note that the church has a round tower.
In childhood, Dad was always keen to help us notice things and learn and so the 3 round towered churches of Sussex are part of my memory. The other 2 are in the adjacent villages of Rodmell, where Virginia Woolf lived at Monk's House, and at Piddinghoe, such a delightful sounding name.

We left Southease after admiring some of the cottages.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


28th September The Gift. Dad's birthday 1993.

In 1993 I wrote a poem as a gift to my Dad on his birthday which recalls a precious gift that he gave to me.

When I was a very little girl he took me for a walk from his Aunty Nelly's house on to The South Downs.

THE GIFT - by Paula, 27th September 1993.

A momentous day
For a little girl,
Proudly holding her Daddy's hand.
He's caring and sharing -
Sharing the bond he has,
Sharing his ties to that beautiful land.

First footsteps on paths
Of the chalky South Downs;
A world to be loved,
So much to be treasured;
An aura of peace -
Away from the towns.
She listens; considers
His every word.
They relish together
The "short springy turf".
She bounces in wonder -
Laughs with each footfall.
The grass grows green from Sussex earth

A day of reverence
For a little girl;
A day to cherish,
As senses experience -
The chalk and the flint,
Flowers, purple and blue,
The sturdy sheep,
Butterflies too.

"Hush! Listen, a lark!"
He guides senses so young -
And kindles a spark.
Breathe now
The scented fresh air -
A mingling of chalk with the flowers.
Look round you,
The valley down there,
See the village,
Flint houses of Firle -

Gazing together for hours.
For both the day lingers -
A magical gift of a day.
A great gift to treasure,
Both remember with pleasure,
Enriching their lives,
Come what may.

Friday, September 28, 2007


28th September My Dad's birthday.

Today my Dad would have been 88.

So here are a few pictures.

This one was taken in December 1919 when he was just a few weeks old.

Here he is as a schoolboy.

His first young family. We seem to be very smartly dressed - not like our usual selves. I know this was taken at Leigh in Kent and we were visiting Dad's very good friend Dick Wood.

Taken Christmas 1990, aged 71. He still looks young and fit and active with dark curly hair.

Dad's 77th birthday - September 1996. This was just a few weeks before he died.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


30th August. Ditchling Beacon.

After our pleasant lunch and stroll in the village of Ditchling we drove in the car to the top of Ditchling Beacon.
It is a popular place for people to stop and admire the view. There is a car park and normally an ice cream van. Bill quite surprised me when he decided to buy an ice cream, which he enjoyed as we set off on our walk.
Sometimes we walk to the west - towards the windmills known locally as Jack and Jill; but this time we went eastwards for a mile or so.

Looking to the north we can look across The Weald (where Crawley is) towards The North Downs.

Below us is the village of Ditchling.

Now we are looking south eastwards to the valley of The Ouse and its little tributary Glynde Reach to another range of South Downs.
It is on those hills that my family's camp was set up each summer.

Bill poses for a photograph on the path. If we had carried on walking in that direction we would have dropped down to the town of Lewes.

Bill again. We keep some walking poles in the car and then usually forget to take them out with us. After all, our walks are neither very long nor very hard.
But they are useful to me on uneven and sloping ground.
Look above Bill's head and you will see Seaford Head far in the distance - white chalk cliffs.

This view shows the Eastern end of Brighton and the sea. The Marina is at sea level to the left of the picture - you can't see it though.

Harebells. These pale blue delicate flowers grow well on the chalk. My real favourites are the other pale blue chalkland flowers - scabious, but they were all gone at this stage of August.

Bill propped his camera on a gate post for this picture.

I asked Bill to pose for me - and he did. At first I was a bit cross that he should look so silly. But once I had seen the picture I loved it. It captures the essence of Bill!

Sunday, September 23, 2007


30th August. Ditchling. The Twitten.

Our stroll round Ditchling took us to a path or alleyway which we had not seen before.
It takes its name from the old Sussex word for pathway - The Twitten.

Half way along The Twitten we discovered the Unitarian Chapel, built alongside some lovely cottages.

The graves date back to the 1700s. Across the pathway was a separate small grvaeyard where the Browne family have been buried for centuries.

Roses round the door.

To one side of the cottages a new garden had been constructed in memory of a stalwart of the Unitarian Church.

Cottage in The Twitten.

Victorian "stink pipe" or sewer odour outlet.

Bill has always like to take photographs of windows.
He was amused by these 2 windows.
This window is actually in Hurstpierpoint, which we had briefly visited first.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


30th August. Day out in Ditchling. Sussex.

One day at the end of August we had a day out in Ditchling.
Ditchling has always been popular with visitors and residents fight fiercely to conserve the old looks of the village.
It has always attracted artists and there was once a thriving community of creative people, somewhat unconventional, including Eric Gill. Some people will remeber that I have a picture by Betty Gill who may or may not be connected to Eric. He certainly had a daughter named Betty, but the man who contacted me seemed to be sure that my picture was not painted by his mother.
These days perhaps the most famous resident is Dame Vera Lynn.
We explored parts of the village we had visited before and then found interesting bits that we had never seen before.
Finally we walked at the top of The South Downs above the village.

We decided to have some lunch in Dolly's Pantry - we have eaten there before.

The next table was set up for a family birthday celebration. The picture shows the old beams.

Bill enjoying a cup of tea whilst waiting for our meal - tasty jacket potatoes and salad.

After lunch we walked to the parish church. The church is built on a mound above the village. We could look back down at Dolly's Pantry.

The church is dedicated to St. Margaret. It has sturdy walls made of flint.
Opposite the church is an old house, known as Ann of Cleves House; but it is assumed that she never actually stayed there.
Nowadays the house is called Wings Place.

This shows the old house and The South Downs beyond.

Another view of Ann of Cleves House.

Detail of the old house.

Very old lock on the door.
Next time I will share with you the Unitarian Chapel and cottages.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


25th August Birthday treat. Worthing buildings.

Before strolling on the prom to reach the beach cafe for lunch we went to look at the shopping streets.
There are of course the usual chain stores in abundance, but there are also lots of little shops and small cafes with tables and chairs out on the pedestrianised streets.
There is a small indoor shopping mall which we didn't bother to explore.
We didn't look at shops, that was not our purpose - but enjoyed the buildings and the wonderful floral displays.

This building and attractive street lamp are on the sea front, almost opposite the pier.

Much of Worthing has a 1930s look to it, though this building might be much newer than that.

I think this is an old building that has been renovated - and seems to be awaiting a new use.

In shopping streets it is worthwhile looking up from the shop windows which are the same in almost every town, to enjoy some of the quirky aspects of the original buildings. These gables look quite Dutch in character.

Just beyond the main shopping streets was a lovely square lined with lovely bow fronted terraced houses - dating from the 1830s.

On one side of the square were sculpted heads high on the wall. The sculptor was Dame Elizabeth Frink - a sculptor of some renown.

When we got home it was time to relax and for the birthday girl to pose with the lovely birthday cards which I received.

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