Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Freezing fog to heatwave – 26 June 2011

We set off north after breakfast, and came out of the fog just a few miles north of Eastbourne. We had planned a circular drive, which finished up back at Eastbourne, so hoped it might have cleared by the time we returned.

First stop was Wilmington, to check out the Long Man on the hillside. He is apparently elongated when seen from above, but the artist(s) back in prehistoric times had designed him so well, he is perfectly proportioned from the town at the bottom of the hill.

Next stop was Alfriston, a really lovely small town, where the NT own the Clergy House, the first property they bought, and one of the first we visited, nearly 10 years ago.

From here we drove down to the South Coast and walked along the South Downs trail to watch in fascination as the fog rolled up and over the cliffs to evaporate in the warm sunshine above. We stopped at a viewpoint overlooking Eastbourne, to discover it was still shrouded in fog, so instead of walking the waterfront, we returned to walk along the
Cuckmere to Cuckmere Haven where it flows into the sea. The fog was not far off shore here, but on the beach in the sunshine it was getting really hot, and when we returned to our closed up car, the thermometer said 42deg in the car.

It was a pleasure to put the top down and drive inland to Charleston Farmhouse. This was the country retreat of Virginia Woolf's sister, among others. They painted the house throughout in decorative patterns – walls furniture, cupboards, fireplaces etc. This was never changed, and after Duncan Grant's death in 1978, a trust was formed in 1981 to preserve it.
Sadly, unlike Virginia Woolf's house yesterday, they do not allow photography, but the effect was a fun way of brightening up a shabby old farmhouse. The studio is still there, and it was easy to imagine the bohemian atmosphere of this 'Bloomsbury set'.

From here we wound our way home, stopping at several lovely villages – Fletchling, Diching and Ardingly. Along the way we discovered a marvellous Victorian viaduct over the Oose Valley. This is now a Grade II listed monument, and certainly a magnificent sight.

The evening was still so beautiful, we stopped for a lovely dinner at the Gardners Arms, which we stumbled over on the B2028. It was the first evening it has been almost too hot to sit outside to eat – a lovely end to a great weekend away from all the pressures of work.

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