Bank Holiday Adventures in Sussex

Gandalf the VW is officially down South, in Sunny Sussex.

We drove down on Friday morning and met up with Keith’s dad and stepmother for lunch and a wander at the National Trust’s ‘Sheffield Park and Gardens’ just off the A22. After a nice lunch we continued our catch up whilst doing a circuit of the spectacular gardens- in full spring bloom right now. The colours were just breathtaking- it really was beautiful. The grounds are vast and I can see us returning in Autumn to enjoy the autumnal displays. Highly recommend a visit.

From here we nipped a mile down the road to the 360 degree brewery, to pick up some carry outs for later, we always like to try the local tipple where we can. Keefy went for the pilsner whilst I had the sour, both were delicious.

Supplies loaded into the fridge, we made the short journey to the campsite- Lone Oak Farm CL- a basic (no electric / facilities etc) field site on the outskirts of Ditching. We decided to pick a no frills or facilities site with the assumption it would be nice and quiet. We got it wrong. The site itself was nice enough, as were the owners. At £12 a night it was perhaps a little pricey considering there was a water tap and a loo disposal and a bin. The field was not the biggest we’ve stayed at but probably in normal circumstances we would have been happy here. The location is very convenient for the Bluebell railway.

However. Unfortunately this weekend, 3 out of the 5 vans on this site were all together. And therefore took over the field, resulting in noise noise and more noise and a not very tranquil experience for the two remaining vans, us being one of those. We tried to grin and bare it, but when Gandalf starting getting hit by rogue footballs, kids (and adults) totally invading our privacy by circling us on bikes, scooters, etc as they played noisily way too close to our van and thus upsetting our dog and my ears- the screaming, screaming and more screaming and shouting and total disregard for the others on the site. The final straw was the 7am wake up call we so happily (not!) received as they played tag around our van! By 8am we decided enough was enough, we were leaving. We spoke to the owner who said they’d have a word, but their words were ‘it is a peak weekend’.

So we left Lone oaks farm around 9am, a little unsure of what to do next. Our plan had been to walk from the site to the Jack and Jill windmills on the outskirts of Hassocks. So we decided to drive there instead, have some breakfast and reevaluate what to do.

The view from the car park of Jack and Jill windmills is tremendous. It does have a height barrier (2.1M) so we managed to squeeze under but anything taller would struggle. I’d have been quite happy to just sit there all day and admire the wonderful scenery of the South Downs, but we hit the phones and managed to find another campsite to head to once we’d finished here. We also enjoyed breakfast here before donning our walking boots and taking a 3m stroll along the South Downs way.

The scenery was breathtaking. We were lucky with the weather and could see for miles.

This is the second time we’ve walked here – the first being possibly 12 years ago, but I remember the effects of that walk were the same. Sheer joy.

The windmills here are over 200 years old. Jack is in private ownership and doesn’t sails on, but Jill is run by a group of volunteers who carefully look after and maintain this beautiful mill.

We were lucky as although not technically open to the public as it was a work day, we were allowed up for a peek inside. The stairs are step, but the views make up for it. It was a real treat to go inside.

We decided to have an early lunch of a pizza cooked on our ridge monkey, enjoying the views for one last time before it was time to hop back across to East Sussex from West.

Our new home for the next two nights was Oakside Farm, Ringmer on the outskirts of Lewis. This was another C&CC certified site with no facilities other than water and emptying point for loo. This site was about 3 times bigger than the previous night, and from the moment we pulled on we relaxed.

Although the site was full, the 3 acre field, and no set pitches as there were no hookup points, meant we could take lots of space away from others. It was glorious. We had an afternoon sunbathing outside whilst reading, and a nice chat with the very friendly owners – who had just flown into the grass airstrip in the next field. This site was only £10pn and felt like great value for money.

The whole time we’re were there we heard not a peep out of anyone. It was the quietest site we’ve ever been on- so going back to the previous site owner saying about it being a peak weekend. Sorry, we don’t buy that.

We enjoyed a nice chilli con carne for dinner, our first al fresco camping dinner of the year. Before settling in for a chilled evening.

Gandalf was coping brilliantly with no electric, the solar panel is working a treat.

Sunday dawned – it was glorious to be woken up by the natures alarm clock, the birds cheeping rather than screams and shouting from outside our van. We took our time in waking up, but eventually cracked on with a cooked breakfast on the cadac. Seeing as we didn’t have to drive we indulged with a glass of fizz to wash down the breakfast too.

After doing some chores – filling and emptying mainly- we walked a mile down the road to the bus stop, and caught a bus to nearby Lewes- pronounced Lewis. The bus also comities to Brighton so this would be a good base of exploration and is dog friendly.

We enjoyed a mooch around some of the historical areas of Lewes, including the castle- although it’s not dog friendly we managed a walk around its perimeter. There are some fabulous nooks and crannies around Lewes, its an interesting place to spend some time wandering.

We admired Virginia Wolfe’s octagonal house, along with Thomas Paine’s home, and a delightful 15th century bookshop.

Keith managed to incorporate a battlefield into the day too. The battle of Lewes was an important one although so important there are barely any signs on their battlefield tour. Something that really hacked me off. We also got tremendously … not lost, but incorrectly diverted 😉 because of the horrendous town map, trying to find the blasted battlefield, so my mood when we did find the field and the housing estate wasn’t the best let me say!

I did however enjoy the ridge walk taking in the main battlefield area once we were on the right but and I’m sure on a clear day the views would be terrific. Of course we found the muck shorter route back to the town so that was better and my mood improved for the rest of the day!

Just before our return bus we went down the brewery end of the town, well we couldn’t come to Lewes and not have a pint of Harvey’s, could we?! We went in the brewery owned pub and enjoyed a Harvey’s pilsner as we’d got a bit hot for an ale.

We re caught the bus from near Aldi before making our way back to Gandalf along Green lane.

The rest of the day was spent chilling – and I made a delicious dinner of Spanish meatball and butter bean stew. Recipe here– it’s a one pot wonder so great for cooler days when not on electric and did a great job in warming us up.

The rest of the evening was spent chilling- I finished my book and Keith finished ozark and before we knew it, Monday morning had arrived and it was time to go home. We’d turned the annoyingness and disappointment of the opening night around and were coming home really rested.

Gandalf went a treat with no electric. We got by by charging our power packs

before leaving home and these allowed us to charge our phones and Keith’s iPad each day.

before leaving home and these allowed us to charge our phones and Keith’s iPad each day.

We showered in our tailgate awning, by filling one kettle up and topping with cool water.

It was a lovey break and we look forward to being out again in a couple of weeks.

Until next time

Lx

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