Slogged out to the very edge of Brighton for an exceptionally early hour to stand on a freezing unmade road waiting for a coach to pick us up. The trip was with the South Downs Society, which has a common problem in established societies – it has an aging membership. Jackie and I were amongst the youngest, being only in our early sixties.
Like the best castles its on a hill overlooking the town, and its been a popular hill since at least the Iron Age, having the remnants of a hill fort of that age, then a Roman lighthouse and a Saxon church (well a bit may be, but the Victorians remodelled out of all recognition) and the grand Norman keep (well – everybody’s had a go at improving it since then)
After exploring the keep, especially the reconstruction of how parts might have looked during the time of Henry II in the 12th century, especially the newly comissioned Mapa Mundi, and the Napoleonic scratched graffiti in the stone walls done by French prisoners.
After a suitable time I suggested we went into town for lunch at a bar/B&B called Blakes, which features in the CAMRA guide. It is a long way downhill to the town, but the peaceful basement bar, with good beers and excellent food made up for the walk back up hill.
On the way back into the castle we saw the latest group of invaders.
Don’t rush to try the bar, it may just change too much. The owners have sold a 15 year lease to a Bulgarian who has been here since the fall of the Berlin wall. Kathryn and Peter Gaston (said owners) told us he doesn’t want to change anything, but he is getting Fosters on tap!!
Had great lunch on a clean table with no trace of stickiness. Purity Gold from Warwickshire (cascade hops) and Kingswood Cider (local and “a little honey in it makes it a real hit with the ladies” said the barmaid).