Thursday 4 January 2024

Peppering Roads

[Image from Pixabay]

Potholes predate the car as the potters used to dig holes in the roads in the search for easily accessible clay. Other road users had to learn to look out for them even back then. Now Winter is upon us once again the little blighters have woken from their summer slumber. For many months they have snoozed beneath the tarmac blankets the council roadmenders popped over them, but now they've cast off their layers and have emerged hungrily smacking their lips at the prospect of their first taste of car tyre. How do I know social media feed is full of those who have fallen foul of their night time antics when they fill up with water and pretend to be puddles, now desperately in search of those who can replace their shredded rubber wheels at short notice. To avoid the same pitfall I must be mindful when driving over the next few months then. 

However, bad road conditions in Sussex are not a new thing.  Thick clay can be challenging when wet and the county was infamous for its oft impassable routes. Edward Lear visited the county in  1829 and whilst staying at Peppering House he  recorded his experiences in this witty poem below😄 

Peppering Roads

If you wish to see roads in perfection
A climax of cart-ruts and stones
Or if you've the least predilection 
For breaking your neck or your bones
If descents and ascents are inviting
If your ankles are strangers to sprains
If you'd ever a penchant for sliding
Then, to Peppering go, by all means.

Take a coach some dark night in November
A party of four with inside
Ah! I once had that jaunt, I remember
And really I pretty near died!
First across to my neighbour I tumbled
Then into the next lady's lap
For at ev'ry fresh rut we were jumbled
And jolted at ev'ry new gap!

So that when we had finished our journey
The coachman who opened the door
Found us tangled so very topturvy
We rolled out all in one bundle all four
And then we were so whisped together
Legs dresses caps arms blacks and whites
That some minutes elapsed before ever
They got us completely to rights!

If you go in a gig you are sure to
Get lost in a mist on the hills
There's a gibbeted thief on the moor too
Your mem'ry with murder that fills
And besides if you ride in what fashion
You will you are sure to get splashed
Till you get quite incensed in a passion
And peppery like mutton that's hashed.

Or if on some fine frosty morning
You make up your mind for a walk
Oh! ere such be your project take warning
For sunbeams will liquify chalk
Step by step you get clogged so for sartin
With chalk round your shoes like a rope
For to comfort eke Day and Martin
You might as well walk upon soap!

From one end of the walk to the other
It's one awful bootjack to feel
One mighty pedestrial slither
For Christian like progress unmeet!
Oh! The peppering roads! Sure 'tis fit there
Should be some requital at last
So the inmates you find when you get there
Amply pay you for all you have passed.

Have a great weekend folks.


  1. Our pots holes have become organised and have a plan..... and more and more keep turning up for duty! Driving to work is akin to doing the slalom with the added frisson of losing a tyre in to what appears to be a harmless puddle.

  2. At least he had good things to say about his hosts at the end of all that mud and potholing.

  3. Given our temperature extremes in the American Midwest, ideal growing conditions for potholes, the rainy season means hazardous driving conditions for tires and rims! Entering a suburban housing estate can mean ruin unless one knows which puddles are ponds, and which ponds could accommodate a U-boat. (Tip: If a vehicle enters the front drive at a normal speed and begins a zig-zag path, entering some puddles and skirting others, follow it closely! This is a native who knows the terrain!) * Thanks for "...pedestrial slither". I may borrow that phrase.

  4. Lear's poem could apply here, as well, although we have no Peppering house, no residents to make up for the trip!


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