Castles and Crochet

This week has marked my last week of ‘unemployment’, and so I’ve been making the most of having my time to myself. The weather has been glorious – gone is the drizzle and grey skies of the last couple of weeks and instead I’ve been treated to day after day of bright sunshine. Admittedly, it’s also absolutely freezing, but I never mind being outside in the cold as long as I’m well wrapped up. I’ve taken the chance to get in some more miles (the current total stands at 77 miles since January 1st) while I can still walk in daylight, and have continued my trend of trying to catch either the sunrise or sunset.108_3040.JPG108_3061.JPGAs well as the walking, I’ve also been making a start on some of my other resolutions this week. Resolution #2 was to learn a new skill, and so last week I headed into Horsham and picked up a crochet hook, some cheap yarn, and a reference book. I can’t exactly say that I’ve been making great progress, but it’s definitely a start. The thing I’m really struggling with at the moment is keeping enough tension in the yarn to catch it with my hook, and as a result my hand is really aching. However, I do like the motion of crocheting, and I think I’ll easily be able to sit and chat while crocheting at the same time (something I never really manage when cross-stitching). It’s slow going for now, but I’ll be sticking with it. Stay tuned for the next half inch of my tiny square being added some time in the not-too-distant future…108_3273.JPGResolution #3 was to plan a day out per month, and this weekend was the first installment. We’ve decided that we’ll take it in turns to plan each month, and as this whole thing was my idea, I went first. Sam had Friday off as he has some carry-over holiday to use, so I thought it would be good to plan two days of activities to really kick things off in style!

On Friday, we took advantage of the weather and walked some of the South Downs Way along Devil’s Dyke. This is one of the most popular spots in the area, partly because it’s quite close to Brighton, partly because you can park at the top of the hill, and partly because the views are spectacular. It’s been a tourist attraction for years; the Victorians built a cable car, funicular, bandstands, and a fairground on/around the Dyke, and although that has all disappeared there is still a very popular pub at the top and at weekends the area is usually covered with people.

The resident Geologist informs me that the Dyke is the longest, widest, and deepest dry chalk valley in the country, formed by snow melt during the last Ice Age. It’s been of interest to humans for thousands of years and is the site of an Iron Age hill fort, as well as a later motte and bailey castle further along the ridge.

After a hearty breakfast of whinberry pancakes with maple syrup, we set off from the village of Fulking and headed towards the Downs.108_3074.JPG108_3076.JPGWe then began the short and steep climb up the Fulking Escarpment which hadn’t seen the sun for days – the path was frozen solid and the frost lay thick on the ground.108_3080.JPG108_3088.JPGOnce at the top, we stopped for lunch at a handily placed bench and enjoy our picnic of homemade quiche and whinberry cakes. The view was stunning, but a very cool breeze meant that we didn’t linger for too long!108_3097.JPG108_3100.JPG108_3135.JPGWe then made our way to the first castle of the weekend, which were the motte and bailey remains on Edburton Hill. There’s not a huge amount to look at, and it’s admittedly not the most impressive of castles, but the view more than makes up for it!108_3110.JPGWe bypassed the pub and the few other people who were around and headed down into the Dyke itself. I think the concrete slab that I’m sitting on in the next picture is the remains of the cable car supports, but otherwise nature has truly reclaimed the land.108_3126.JPGAfter dropping down into the valley, we walked the last few miles through gently sloping fields back to the car at Fulking, ready to go home and make our new meal of the fortnight which was salmon and ginger ‘burgers’ (they were definitely fishcakes, but they tasted great regardless of the name!) with sweet potato wedges. Mmm.108_3155.JPGAfter the great walk of Friday, I’d planned a day out to Pevensey Castle which was the landing place for William the Conqueror in 1066, as well as being an ancient Roman fortress. We’d not been before, and I loved it – it was the perfect blend of crumbling ruin but with enough still standing to make it worth exploring. Entry was a little bit odd as we almost had to go out of our way to find the ticket cabin and buy tickets (a few people just seemed to be wandering in) but I was glad that we did as we were given really good audio-guides which made up for a distinct lack of signage in the grounds.108_3167.JPG108_3179.JPG108_3186.JPG108_3181.JPGWe then headed next door to the Royal Oak and Castle for a warm lunch before setting off to Lewes, our last stop of the day.

I’ve been to Lewes before and love the sheer amount of history contained in a relatively small area. One of the main attractions for me are the ruins of the priory which are fairly substantial despite being a fraction of the size of the original complex. It underwent a pretty thorough demolition thanks to Henry VIII but there’s enough there to be worth looking at, along with a number of good signs (plus it’s all totally free).108_3210.JPG108_3223.JPG108_3232.JPGWe’ve currently got free entry to Lewes Castle for a year after gift-aiding our tickets last May so we decided to take advantage of this and make the most of the abundance of castles in the area. It also proved to be too good of a dressing-up opportunity to miss…108_3241.JPG108_3258.JPG108_3251 (2).JPG108_3253.JPGWell, if they provide a trunk full of costumes for adults, why not?!

We stayed up on the battlements to watch as the sun sank in the hazy sky, enjoying the views above the town.108_3262.JPGI’m so glad that I decided to keep resolution #3; I wasn’t convinced when making it as it seemed a bit too ill-defined, but taking the time to plan something special gave me something to look forward to all week and also had us venturing slightly further afield to explore new places. Definitely a resolution that we’ll be sticking to, and I can’t wait to see what Sam comes up with in February!

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2 thoughts on “Castles and Crochet

    • We just couldn’t resist dressing up – rather worryingly, I think Sam is channeling a bit of Henry VIII with his beard, hat, and robe! It was a really lovely couple of days out, and we were so lucky with the weather as we’ve had continuous freezing fog here since Sunday night. Not much fun!

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