My birthday rarely passes without the Vet proposing a family get together. This year we found ourselves in the heart of the Sussex countryside, in Cuckfield. This place is what gives the word ‘quaint’ it’s reason to exist. Every buildings appears to have been built in the tortured twist style with a kind of ingrained architectural arthritis that in humans needs a Baltic of back rub but hereabouts generates cosy images of winter hearths and scalp-scrapes from the low beams. It’s gorgeous.
Our hotel, the grandly named Ockendon Manor meets all these expectations which, coupled with good food and a warm welcome made us very welcome.
Naturally all this was splendid but what we really wanted was a winter walk.
The leaflet from reception promised much: an ancient church,
ancient woods and views over the rolling Sussex downs. It even included that most ubiquitous example of the urbanising of remote villages: the sewage works. What could be better?
This autumn hasn’t been too wet, nor too cold but the family pack wrapped up warm as we gathered in the churchyard. We tried a family picture but there is a generational difference when it comes to enthusiasm in front of the camera.
Mind you, later in the day at a local art gallery and after a glass of complimentary prosecco the pervious inhibitions seemed to have diminished somewhat.
At this time of year, of course, with the trees pretty leafless, the joy is in the moss and lichen.
Oh and the company, of course.
For those of your concerned at the absence of Dog, he was staying with the Gardener and Wife and having a splendid time.
Cue gratuitous picture of Dog
before settling in for the evening…