Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Adventures in Sussex

The mercury is going through the roof round these 'ere parts at the moment...31 degrees C and climbing...the continuing heatwave causing many to seek out the coolest possible spot, while freezers work triple time as the demand for ice cream goes mental.

Yesterday I wandered to Hotham park once more, found a sunny spot and basked the day away...moving location only to visit the nearby kiosk for sustenance of the ice lolly persuasion...I soon realised my choice in ice lolly (a Ribena push up) is fairly difficult to eat without a.) creating a complete numbness of the lips, b.) looking fairly obscene while consuming and c.) leaving both lips and mouth purple for the following half hour....anyhoo, today father offered me a lift out of town and suggested Kingley Vale as an ideal location to spend the day.

It's a particular favourite of mine and has some of the most spectacular views in the area. I don't get there often enough though as it's a bit of a pig to get to if you don't have a car, such is the British transport system. So, sticking two fingers up to the cautionary advisement of the weather folk to seek shade during the heat of the day, I made a picnic grabbed several litres of water and instead took on a mini hike.

There's various reasons why this is a favourite place of mine...beside the amazing views from the top it's far enough from roads to be peaceful, so much so that you get the feeling that may have been some kind of mass disaster and you actually may be the last person on the planet. The place is steeped in history and folklore, home to the largest Yew tree forest in Europe...no one knows just how old but we're talking years into the thousands here, so.....old. Like most woodland there's the obligatory ghostly legends and it's a site once (and possibly still) used by Druids and Wiccans....when you walk through the Yews, branches and trunks bent and twisted by hundreds of years of growth, it's very easy to believe the stories of unearthly figures and fallen Viking soldiers who have apparently been seen here.

Which brings me to the name 'Kingley Vale'...Legend has it many, many moons ago, during one of various invasions of England, those pesky Viking forces were making their way north. A motley crew of Sussex farmers took umbridge to all the fracas, pillaging and funny accents and so, armed with pitchforks, ripped the Scandinavian troublemakers a new one...the fallen Kings were buried in the chalk mounds which sit at the top of the hill.

During WWII the area was used as a firing range and various devices were used to blow the crap out of the trees and land....the forest also had a couple of under ground bunkers in case of invasion the entrance of which is apparently still visable....somewhere.

The area now stands as a nature preserve and they ain't kidding as today alone I saw Buzzards, Woodpeckers (amongst dozens of other birds), rabbits, a grass frog (that's it's name not apperance), butterflies (pretty much every type) and a couple of deer (for about 2 seconds...sprightly little buggers).

As I'm a good blogger I was sure to take my camera along:

Grass Frog in a hole in the dried up 'hidden' pond....

Where did you have lunch today, I had mine overlooking this.....

The Tumuli at the top where legend has it the Vikings are buried

The only thing which scuppered my day was, after reaching the top, I promptly slipped on some loose soil and did my favourite party trick of twisting my ankle (yes, the same one as before...for the third time) I fell to the ground with all the elegance of a sack of spuds.....after a period of intense pain, mass cussing and a flash of coastguard rescue having to swoop in to save the day going through my mind (I was up a bloody great hill in the middle of nowhere afterall)...I managed to suck it up and hobble the couple of miles back down the track to the car park to meet dear 'ol dad who I'd called for assistance. I'm now ice packing the injury, hoping that it'll heal by Sunday which is when I'm off to Wales for a few days...grrr arrg!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Yes, I know I've been absent again and I haven't even anything constructive to show for it either...though in a case of blatant bribery I have a few pics to make up for content.

I'm off to Wales in a week so hopefully I'll have something vastly more interesting to add to this 'ere corner of cyberspace...though I am somewhat disgruntled that the Beeb have just announced that Torchwood is due to air the same week I'm away...grr arrg, bloody typical!

Until then:

This li'l Bluetit was nesting in our garden and happened to take it's first flight while I was catching some rays.

Time for lunch

We're having another heatwave, and during Wimbledon too which is unheard of, so this is where I spent yesterday afternoon...not bad huh

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot

Heat and wave are quite possible my two favourite words at the moment (along with ice and cream....and Jensen and Ackles for that matter.....and strictly speaking 'heatwave'...one word, but.....meh ), since last Friday it's been a rather respectable 24-27 degrees round these 'ere parts and Bognor has been living up to its reputation of being the sunniest place in the UK...unblemished blue skies, coastal breeze and sunshine from dawn till dusk...no doubt this will soon be a distant memory since the forecast doesn't look too favourable for the coming few days...a drop by 10+ degrees will see me dig out my jeans once more...but the last few days have been relaxing, stress free and with a couple of ambles along the prom, quite enjoyable.

I decided, in my wisdom, it was about time I gave a tour of my little town....the aesthetically pleasing parts anyway and mainly just along the prom and back which is about a 6 mile round trip from my house...and worthy of the bowl of strawberries and ice cream I chowed down on yesterday evening.....So I present to you....Emma's virtual tour of (the pretty bits of) Bognor:

The reason Bognor has the suffix Regis attached is because it was a favourite of King George V for convalescing...notoriously (although largely legend) quoted as saying 'Bugger Bognor' upon his deathbed.....apparently, however, everyone's a critic.....

This is the Aldwick duck pond, positioned just a few yards across the road (where apparently all the ducks were hiding)

Oh, wait there they (all two of em) are

This little patch of greenery is called The Pound, a popular shortcut on the way to the beach and for dog walkers to foul up the path (their dogs that is not the walkers)

Marine Park Gardens run parallel to the beach just before the start of the prom....it's been around since about the 1930's and is a popular place for the cotton tops to take their afternoon snooze. It's also the place in which I met Mike Reid (a then moderately famous radio DJ) at a teddy bears picnic when I was a nipper.....I mainly remember having to be rescued by my dad from a crush of cotton tops who, obviously overdosing on their HRT, went completely loopy for the bespeckled, mulleted DJ.....*shudders*

The 18 hole pitch and putt where many summers of my youth were spent....although any type of golfing is not my forte.

Ahh, the beach...would be nicer if there were less shingle, kinder to the bare foot also cause holy crap does it pinch, alas, way back when, the groynes where placed wrongly and the sand was covered by the irritating little stones.

The Royal Norfolk Hotel...actually quite old....has been around for at least 150 years (so older than the popular entertainer Bruce Forsythe....just) and at one point was run by members of my family....should have paid attention more in class since my own mother recently wrote a book about the history of this place.

This here be the infamous Bognor pier.....any decent British seaside resort wouldn't be seen dead without a pier...in its day it was a hub of activity with amusement arcade, an entertainment pavilion, docking area for a paddle steamer and home to the world renowned Bognor Regis Birdman Rally (people in silly costumes hurling themselves into the freezing water in the name of charity....more likely insanity) .......these days however......

not so much...years of neglect and some heavy duty storms have serious dilapidated the town piers' ability to be....well.....a pier.

Even as a kid in the 80's the pier was much longer, though largely cordoned off due to it's collapsing into sea potential....

now at low tide you can walk right past the end of the dang thing....doesn't stop kids jumping off it at high tide...though the Birdman, for the first time in 29 years, was moved to a nearby town last year.

The view looking West
The view looking East
The crazy golf opposite the pier....one of the few family entertainment activities the town has to offer, along with.....

various ex-fairground tosh, a bouncy castle and....

The seafront train...ahh yes, because donkey's are so 1970's (concerns of PC-ness and the growing child obesity epidemic notwithstanding)....Eco the Engine is mainly used by the folk at Butlins who find the half mile walk along the prom into town too strenuous.

The bandstand...in which I don't think I've ever seen an actual band

This is progress....two brand spankin' new apartment blocks have been built...a snip at a £150,000+ (although I would love me one of the penthouse suites ta very much...expectin' that lotto win any day now)

As mentioned just now.....Butlins...formerly South Coast World...which was also known some years ago as....erm....Butlins....It's the main reason folk visit Bognor Regis. A chap by the name of Billy Butlin invented the holiday camp...the structured way to have a holiday (I refer you to the TV series Hi-De-Hi to get an idea) and figured Bognor and ideal location to stick one in 1960...and so it was, bringing with it chalets, Redcoats, swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), an oddly shaped pavilion, fun fair and thousands of tourists from up north with their spawn.....easily identified by men with beer guts in regional football shirts drinking Stella and gorging on Fish 'n' chips, women in ill fitting strappy tops with lobster red shoulders drinking Stella and gorging on fish 'n' chips and usually accompanied by half a dozen miniature versions of said adults, but with added snotty noses and ice cream smothered faces....going by the name on Tiffany, Britney, Courtney, Alfie, Harry and Jack

Below the oddly shaped pavilion where the Redcoats perform as well as the latest X-Factor rejects...oh yeah...Butlins is one classy place....There was once a Stargate convention here, but no advertising in the town itself meant I missed out, specifically on meeting Paul McGillion, Rachel Lutrell, Gary Jones and Dan Payne, amongst others...grrr, arrg

Anyhoo, next up Hotham Park...without which there would probably be no Bognor Regis...It's a humble park created way back in the 1780's by Sir Richard Hotham who hoped to create a space for folk to relax and visit whilst taking in the healthy sea air....It worked and thereafter Bognor became quite the tourist attraction.

Home to various scenic paths, a play area, miniature railway and boating lake (see above, though neither was in action yesterday), the park has seen some changes over the years...it was closed to the public for much of the 1940's, took a hit in the Great Storm of 1987 and at one point had a fun little theme park Rainbows End (of which I remember very little.....bar a Snow White and Seven Dwarfs singing model thing....like I said 'very little') and pets corner (my mothers generation) ...these stood disused and overgrown for many, many years until recently when a £2.2 million rejuvenation has once more opened up the park....though, it is still a work in progress, but a pleasant enough way to spend a summers afternoon.

This brings me to my toughest challenge of the day......

And fyi second row, far left...aka lemon/lime squeeze-up.....so there you go...my virtual tour of my humble abode of the past 29 years....and after all this pounding of the pavements the only thing left to do was head back to the beach for a very non-virtual paddle in the pleasantly warm sea.