A new book by Dave Bangs is always good news. The new one is a lifetime of walking and recording nature as only a real committed enthusiast like Dave can. Its nearly A4 in size, and 360 pages long and he calls it a field guide to the middle Sussex and South East Surrey Weald. He started exploring as a young guy, using trains, buses and a bike. More recently its been by car, but the train core is revealed in the area, a few miles east and west of the Brighton to London railway, north of the South Downs up to about Redhill. And the detail is stunning.
I am planning trips to find some of his veteran trees. He says he has logged over a thousand of them, though hes been doing it so long some may have collapsed and gone now. Time to plan a few spring walks and see some whilst they still stand.
This is a huge pollarded beech – over 5 full arm-spans around – with Dave nestled in its folds. He gives 8 figure grid references for the things he cites, which should help me find them. When I heard of his latest publication I phoned him and he brought a copy round. What service!
That was 4th January, so I call it a birthday present to me. On the actual day a group of friends had a fine vegetarian Indian meal in a nearby church hall where Robb Johnson entertained us with his songs after we had eaten food prepared by his partner Meeta. Below there is Jerry, me and Jackie, and over her left shoulder another friend Jim Grozier – what a sociable evening.
Jackie’s birthday is only a few days later, and to mark that she and I had lunch at BomBanes in George Street Brighton. We would have visited in the evening, but it was a themed dinner, with cryptic crossword clues to baffle and stun. As neither of us has any talent in that direction we waited until friends came to stay, and all 4 of us went for dinner on the 19th January.
Whilst the above Viv and Graham were staying with us an eclipse of the moon was due. Though it was rather early in the morning (maximum eclipse at 3.34am) we agreed to have a look if any one of us woke in time. One of us woke, so we were all at the upstairs back windows looking NW towards a moon just coming out of eclipse at 4.30am. Below is my best effort.
At the end of the month I spotted a sad thing – two of Brighton’s taggers had finally decided its OK to spray their scent marking equivalent on a wall supporting a Blue Plaque commemorating the birthplace of a First World War Victoria Cross holder. Ernest Beal was born on the Lewes Road, and we put up the plaque in the summer, where it has been unsullied by graffiti until January.
On the same day I attended the AGM of the Brighton and Hove Way Association, in the Cherub Room of a local private school for girls. I volunteered to act as Secretary of the group which exists to promote a permanent way-marked 18 mile walk around the back of Brighton and Hove, connecting to the coast at both ends, and public transport links at several other points. I have now walked all of it once, and some parts two or three times, so at least its getting me out and about. Here is the small gathering hearing from our Chair, Cllr. Pete West.