During this past week I've been watching the weather forecast on my phone like a hawk. It's paid dividends because we've been able to have two small outings. These are from yesterday's amble starting from the small Sussex village of Plaistow [or Plasto as we pronounce it round here]. I did look to see if there were any juicy tidbits to share. The only small crumb I could winkle out was that at one time there was a small hill with a tree on top which was known as Nell Ball's tree. Who Nell might have been remains obscured by folkloric tales, but the rumours have here as either it having been Nell Gwynne who planted the tree when she stayed at Plaistow Place [possibly] or a local lady called Ellen Ball who died by her own hand on the hill. Again highly unlikely, but it all makes for a good story doesn't it. Nowadays the memory is preserved in one of the road names.
The route I'd chosen promised farms, woodland, glimpses of Blackdown Hill [the highest point in the South Downs] and a series of 12 meadows. I would say it delivered on all fronts and what we got was a series of quintessentially and very familiar Sussex sights. In a bid to make his weekends back as different as possible from his working week in London TYM joined us once again [motivated by a step challenge he's doing at work] as now he's older he's really enjoying the landscapes he's grown up with. He often joins my Dad on hikes too so probably has a better working knowledge of the local countryside than either of us!
Plaistow is a place where time has stood still. It's remained small and has retained both its pub and its rather quaint shop [the church is Victorian and didn't float my boat] shown below. There is something rather appealing about the mysterious black door next to it with the peeling paint.
As we were starting out I had a quick chat with a friendly gentleman who told me that the dwelling below is the oldest property....it's deceptive because it's got modern windows, but if you enlarge it you can just glimpse much older ones on the side which gives the game away. The grassy area in the front is what remains of Todhurst Meadow and is owned by the National Trust.
I never know what odd items I'm going to encounter in the woods. We pondered what this might have started out life as. Perhaps some sort of brazier or maybe leftover from WWII. Whatever it is it's looks like it's been there a long time!
Tea and [King Alfred] cakes anyone? Maybe not eh!
As elsewhere in other parts of the country the past few days have seen temperatures plummet, but we have been treated so wonderful clear skies and bright sunlight. All the ponds were frozen and the conditions made for interesting patterns in the iced puddles we crossed.
One of my favourite aspects of this time of year is how the bare forms of the trees are in full view. If the branches are draped in lichen such as this it is an indicator of good air quality.
You know me...what would an Aril walk be without at least one photo of something out of the usual. We were almost back at the car before I glimpsed this over the school fence.
I came back reinvigorated by the magical calm in the woods. Always my happy place and one of the reasons I love living here.