Sunday saw me on a bus at 9.40am heading for Patcham and a 4 mile walk over the Downs for lunch. Walked away from hundreds of children playing football at Patcham Recreation Ground at 10am climbing the slippery track between the gardens of houses and the roar of the bypass. The noise peaked as I took the footbridge across four lanes of traffic to find a fairly newly designated piece of Access Land, complete with interpretation board and map beside a new gate. So new that the grass showed no signs of wear on the direct routes between gates – I felt I was pioneering a new trail, an odd feeling in such well used countryside.
After three fields I approached the rifle range. Its marked on the OS map as that, but I have never previously seen it (and heard it ) in use. This day the crack crack crackle of rifle shots and the red warning flags made it very clear it was in use. At the top of this field I left open access land and had to follow the public rights of way. Not easy when the only obvious route turned out to be a cul-de-sac leading to pheasant rearing pens. So a barbed wire fence had to be climbed. Turns out this was the right of way – according to my map, but it simply stopped at a fence. But the start of that section was rewarded with a misty view into the sun, across to the Ditchling Road:
Soon I reached the South Downs Way, looking left and right, then right again I waited for a gap in the streams of walkers, runners and cyclists until it was safe to cross this busy highway and make my way down the unnamed ridge which doubles as an RSPB reserve. A mile further and I was in Keymer early enough to pop into the Greyhound for a pint of Longman Brewery Long Blonde ale before heading for our vegetarian lunchtime venue Mama Ganoush.
Mine had sprouted mung beans, cauliflower, squash, pomegranate and rocket served with beetroot, carrot and spinach salad. It was tasty, as were the two large glasses of Rioja and the black coffee. All six of us headed for Ditchling Museum and Art Gallery afterwards where I was keen to see the notebooks of the illustrator John Lord.
The chap on the museum till was apologetic that a public catalogue was getting tatty, and then he refused my offer of payment to enter the museum, saying that he felt it would be unreasonable to take money from me. This odd behaviour became clear when he said I was John Lord. At that point I remembered being mistaken for him a few times way back in the 1980s when we both worked in the Art College part of Brighton Polytechnic. The drawings are great – the one above is from one of his ’90s notebooks, when The Hitchhikers Guide was so popular.