Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Tents, Old Farming Relics and Motorbikes

Now that summer is well and truly here, we felt the need last week-end to get out into the great outdoors and took ourselves off on a camping and biking trip.  This was actually prompted by an invitation to an afternoon barbeque in East Sussex about 30 miles away.  We thought that rather than driving home again (meaning that one of us couldn't enjoy a drink at the barbie) it would be nicer to camp after the barbeque and go cycling the next day and we were lucky enough to find a campsite 8 miles away from our host's barbeque - but a pleasant and easy cycle along a flat, trafffic-free reclaimed railway line known as The Cuckoo Trail 

Having camped at this site before (albeit about 8 years ago), we roughly new what to expect - a quiet, clean, well-run site with farm museum, lake and cafe on site. 

The only aspect which had changed was that last time we visited, the then famous Merrydown Cider brewery was at that time located next to the campsite with its own visitor shop.  The company was bought out though a few years ago and manufacturing relocated.  Sadly there is now derelict ground where the brewery used to be and the cider doesn't quite taste the same as it used to (we have memories of it being very light and zingy and almost champagne-like).

We kept our camping trip simple and took no cooking utensils or food with us because we new there were good catering facilities close by.  The next morning we set ourselves up for a days' cycling with a cooked breakfast at Wessons Cafe just a 5 minute walk into the village.  Its a brilliant cafe and has an excellent reputation, particularly for its breakfasts.  It has a reputation as a biker's cafe as it is choc full of motorcycle paraphernalia and motorcyclists come from near and far to meet up for sunday breakfast.  However, it is a very friendly and welcoming place to be and, in fact, everyone is welcome be they bikers, cyclists, walkers, workmen or whoever.

Now I don't usually eat a full cooked English breakfast as never feel hungry enough, but not having eaten since the barbeque the afternoon before, I did have an appetite.  I had the veggie breakfast which was beautifully cooked and very satisfying and I particularly liked the inclusion of bubble 'n squeak.  Mr Cocopopia had the standard non-veggie breakfast and he too was suitably impressed.

If you ever find yourself in Horam in West Sussex, Wessons Cafe is a must!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Beetles in the Air

Sometime between mid May and early June, depending on the weather, we see the emergence of the local stag beetles.  In some parts of the UK the stag beetle is very rare although in other parts (mainly the south east, where it tends to be warmer and drier) they are more common - although their numbers are still in decline.

Following 5 - 6 years of living underground and undergoing various transformations, the stag bettle eventually emerges to mate.

They seem to be more common at dusk and you can sometimes hear them in the air or rustling in vegetation.  Not all of them make it and if they end up on their back, they struggle to get back on their feet again and this makes them vulnerable to predators - such as our cats.  Unfortunately, here's Mr P with his latest catch - it was still alive so I managed to scoop it up and put it outside to the front of the house where the cats don't usually go.

If you're interested in learning more about stag beetles, here's a link: stag beetles

Friday, 13 June 2014

Hello Again

Hello, and yes, I'm still here!  Currently not managing to blog as much as I'd like as still a few technical hitches with the computer but that's getting closer to being sorted.

In the meantime, the summer weather has really kicked in and things have been pretty busy, so I've been building up a stack of photos for future posts.

People have been asking me how I'm getting on without my little chicken friends and yes, the garden is not the same without them.  


But I have been supporting The Mac's Farm and buying my eggs from this fantastic chicken friendly family business in West Sussex.  This family business has been pioneering in producing free range and organic eggs since 1985.  They firmly believe in doing the best for their chickens and so the welfare of the hens is at the heart of what they do.  

The farm is open daily to the public so that people can learn more about chicken farming and to respect the principles of organic farming.  Even when the chickens are "retired" they are re-homed locally so that nature rather than man decides how long their life will be (and there aren't many chicken farms that will take the time to do that).

The farm also supports local community projects and the Watoto project in Uganda.  Its well worth having a look at their website .  Hopefully, one day, all egg producing farms will be run like this!