Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bonfire Tour Days Twenty-six to Twenty-eight:Lewes, East Sussex

Day Twenty-six, Sunday November 12, 2006
Only place for breakfast in Lewes early on Sunday morning is Caffe Nero where we have yogurt, croissants and coffee. To Saint John's Southover for Remembrance Day service. The names of four family members are read out in the Roll of Honour. The service and the vibrant church community do them proud.
Quick grocery shop at Tesco before picking up Julian at the Trevor Arms in Glynde before a drive to Brightling - home of Mad Jack Fuller. Take photos of the obelisk, pyramid and church. Pleased to see that they now have postcards of the church, one of which shows Fuller's pyramid tomb. Pop in to the Swan Inn at Woods Corner, Dallington for beverages.
Back in Lewes I meet my sister and family at Caffe Nero for coffee before going to their place for dinner. Photo: many birds perching on St John's basking shark weather vane.
Day Twenty-Seven, Monday November 13, 2006
Our last day in Lewes and there are many loose ends to tie up. I visit the library to use the internet, return a book and make photocopies. We drive out to Hamsey to look for Willmett's Farm and the Old Rectory which is now Hamsey Manor. On to the Bluebell Railway's Sheffield Park station where get platform tickets and have coffee. Quite a crowd is gathered there as this is the final day of the Terrier Gala - A gathering of five of these popular locomotives dating back as far as 1872.
Lunch at the Chalk Pit Inn on the Offham Road, just outside of Lewes. I am surprised to read about the Shiffner connection to the chalk pit and its tramway which idocumenteded on the pub's walls.
"During the early 1800s the owner of the chalk pit decided to build a tramway to transport the lime and chalk from the quarry down to the barges on the river Ouse, as the steep slope was dangerous and costly in both horse and carts and men. In 1809 William Jessop opened the tramway which had a large wheel at the top with a brake, the weight of full trucks of lime and chalk travelling down pulled the empty ones back up the 60% sloped track. This method of transport was used until 1870 when the pit was closed."
Visited my grandmother's cousin Mabel who will be 101 year young on December 15th, 2006. She is as alert and chipper as ever. I told her that her brother Fred's name was read out on the Roll of Honour at Southover Church during the Remembrance Service and she was moved to tears.
Met up with various folk at the Brewers Arms including Kim Fuller whose branch of the family has been traced back to Waldron, Sussex and may be connected to Mad Jack's tree.
Day Twenty-Seven, Monday November 13, 2006
Sorting and packing to go home before quick breakfast. I have acquired at least 25 books on various subjects from Frida Kahlo to Michael Faraday. Many thanks to our chauffeur Michel who drove us to Gatwick airport. No problems checking in and the flight is uneventful. Landing at Pearson is the usual nightmare - no we don't have a $2 coin for a luggage trolley, how many people landing there off international flights would? We opt to take a limo and are glad to be back home after a month away.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Bonfire Tour Days Eighteen to Twenty-five:Lewes, East Sussex; Caterham,Surrey; Clenchwarton, Norfolk

Day Eighteen, Saturday November 4, 2006
To the farmer's market which is held on the first Saturday of every month,9 amm-1pm in the Cliffe Pedestrian Precinct. Rupert was doing "vox pops" live on Rocket FM (getting folk to speak to Dino Bishop in the studio via mobile phone.
Lunch at my sister's with the crew, then of to the temporary Rocket studio at real estate agent Fox & Sons on the High Street which overlooks the War Memorial.
There is no possible way that words can do justice to the sheer scale and magnificence of the Lewes Bonfire Grand Procession - even pictures can't capture the intense atmosphere. Suffice it to say, they did themselves proud and we had arguably the best view in town.
On to the uptown studio after the procession as the Bonfire Societies moved on to their fire sites. The whole thing is surreal and dreamlike. Traffic is blocked off from the town. Torchlight, flares and fireworks give the medieval streets an eerie glow. Being dressed in "normal" clothing makes you feel a freak.

Day Nineteen, Sunday November 5, 2006
Excellent family church service at Saint John Southover. Chris Staynor led the congregation in a quiz which led nicely into his sermon on A Day in the Life of Solomon.
Amazing trek up Kingston Ridge with Clive, Doug and Rob. The view of Lewes from there was superb. Dinner of insalate caprese - a personal favourite- and tortellini chez Helen. Good time had by all.

Day Twenty, Monday November 6, 2006
Another lovely day for a walk on the South Downs with Clive, the McBeans and the hobbits. This time up the Cliffe to the golf course and over the hills to Glynde. Tasty lunch at the Trevor Arms
and return to Lewes by train.
Dinner at sister-in-law Ursula's where she has made my favourite cheese pie.

Day Twenty-one, Tuesday November 7, 2006

Picked up rental car, a Nissan Primera, at Chailey Motors. Drove up to Kew to visit the National Archives where Ru had requested some papers.
On to mother and father-in-law's at Caterham for dinner and the best night's sleep I'd had in about a week.

Day Twenty-two, Wednesday November 8, 2006
To Caterham town centre for grocery shopping and lunch at the Coffee Bay which is in the railway station.
Amazed that roses are still blooming in the garden. Quiet and restful time getting caught up with family and looking at postcards in Stella's collection.
Watched a TV program called Flog it! which is somewhere between Bargain Hunt and Cash in the Attic.

Day Twenty-three, Thursday November 9, 2006
Northward to Clenchwarton, which is just outside of King's Lynn, Norfolk, to stay with my mom's cousin and her husband. Stopped in Ely, Cambridgeshire to look at the Cathedral and Oliver Cromwell's house which is now a museum/tourist information office.
Lovely dinner and good chats with Auntie Jean and Uncle Ed about what it was like to live in Lewes during the war and various points of family history.

Day Twenty-four, Friday November 10, 2006
Drove into Spalding, Lincolnshire for a look around and some shopping. Coffee and browsing at the Bookmark book shop & cafe then fish and chips for lunch at Turners Fish Restaurant, 20 Red Lion Street. On to a massive, interesting garden centre called Baytree. We spot aTrabant lurking in a garage there.
Treated to Uncle Ed's long standing specialty Welsh Rarebit for dinner. I watch and take careful notes as he's cooking.

Day Twenty-five, Saturday November 11, 2006
Across East Anglia to Martham, near Great Yarmouth, to visit more of my mother's relatives and find out more about the Moore family genealogy. Weather glorious and scenery interesting.
Stop in to have tea with the in-laws at Caterham before heading home to Lewes.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Bonfire Tour Days Sixteen & Seventeen:Lewes, East Sussex

Day Seventeen, Friday November 3, 2006
To Eastbourne to meet Alan Bennett, curator of the Eastbourne Lifeboat Museum for Jack Fuller research. Lunch at Station Fish Bar a reasonably priced cafe across the road from the railway station.
Rocket fm guests include: Club Motor Sport's Pete Webber, phone interview with Blues singer Kyla Brox, Brian Hart of the Wealden Line Campaign.
The Wealden Line Campaign "is independent, non-profit-making organisation founded in 1986, whose aim is to secure the restoration of Uckfield line train services to Lewes and Tunbridge Wells, creating a new Wealden Line which would: 1) Provide new travel opportunities across East Sussex and Kent2) Stimulate the local economy3) Benefit the environment by relieving road congestion."

Day Sixteen, Thursday November 2, 2006
Met up with my cousin Doug, who's here from Canada, at the Riverside for coffee. Decided to explore the Lewes Priory Ruins, seen above. Next to Lewes Castle where we had fun taking photos - the view was supurb. Took the required picture (with timer on) of us sitting in the stocks.
Our guests at the rocket fm studio were: Roz Bedwell who talked about preparing pets for the noise of bonfire fireworks; Commercial Square Bonfire boys who were by far the rowdiest crew; Chaplin Clive Anderson (also visiting from Canada).Stopped at Efes Kebab House, 205 High Street for a veggie burger on the way home.
Met up with June Eade, Empress of the Cliffe, and watched the Cliffe bonfire banners being put up.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Day Fifteen: Lewes, East Sussex

Tea at the Runaway, a cafe in Lewes railway station, and chatted with owner, the ever entertaining Vic Elsie. To Eastbourne where a walk along the sea front emphasized the fact that it is now November. Gone are the holiday crowds and as I walk along the beach I have only the sea gulls for companionship.
To the Eastbourne Lifeboat Museum & Shop to do some research.
"The Eastbourne Lifeboat Museum is housed in the RNLI boathouse, King Edwards Parade. Built in 1898 to commemorate the assassination of the well known actor William Terris outside the Adelphi Theatre in 1897. A display of newspaper cuttings of the time are in the museum. The building housed an active lifeboat until 1924, when an exhibition lifeboat was put on display."
They have done an excellent job of crediting John "Mad Jack" Fuller with providing the town's first lifeboat in 1822. There are two silver medals on display which were, "presented to each of the lifeboatmen for the rescue of the crew of the Dutch East Indiaman the "Twee Cornelissen" in December 1845. These medals are very simillar to Fuller's funeral medallions.
Had lunch at a Favo'Loso 19-25 Carlisle Road, Eastbourne which was very retro. Three young guys showed up with a video camera - one in a superman suit and another dressed as spiderman. They politely asked permission to take photos inthe cafe and then went on their way.
Guests in the studio today were Bexhill Banjo musician Paul Bishop and his son Ethan who runs the Laughing Gravy website. Next up was Rick Newth, chairman of the Cliffe Bonfire Society.
Pioneer front:Vikings
Second pioneer front:Moors
Smuggler colours:Black and white jumper, red cap
Area of town represented:The Cliffe and Malling
Firesite location:Ham Lane (access via Pinwell Lane). Please note that admission is by ticket only; these are on sale every Saturday in October in the Pedestrian Precinct or during October from Cliffe Bookshop, the Dorset Arms, the Lewes Arms and the Gardeners Arms, as well as the Tourist Information Centre.
What makes us different from the others:Tradition is very important to the Cliffe. In 2003 we celebrated our 150th anniversary and, for that year only, declared our First Pioneer costume to be the ancient smugglers rather than our famous vikings.
View source.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Day Fourteen: Lewes, East Sussex

Intense buildup towards Bonfire Night, this year celebrated on Saturday November 4 as the 5th falls on a Sunday. The town of Lewes is positively humming.
To the butcher's shop - Frank Richards & Sons 25 Western Road, Lewes - to buy a stock of Fyers Original Sussex Blend Tea.
Today's guests for the "Get Smart" show are Rocket fm's Director General Andy Thomas (my brother-in-law) and local author and free thinker Andy Thomas who kindly autographs my copy of his book "Streets of Fire: A hymn to Lewes and the Bonfire Celebrations". The later has come to talk about changing times - "an organisation dedicated to the stimulation of new thinking, challenging accepted ‘official' beliefs or propaganda with thought-provoking presentations on a variety of topics, ranging from political debate to scientific or metaphysical investigation."
Richard Todd arrives to talk about South Street Bonfire Society's preparations for the big night.

South Street Bonfire Society
Pioneer front:English Civil War
Second pioneer front: Siamese Dancers
Smuggler colours:Brown and white jumper, red cap
Area of town represented:South Street area
Firesite location:Railway Land (off Railway Lane)
What makes us different from the others:
South Street was originally a juvenile bonfire society, and although we are now an adult society we maintain a strong junior membership.