Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The South Downs Way meets Django Reinhardt

OK, so what are we gonna do now that the Festival is over? Hmm, well, apart from the fact that Brighton is literally bursting at the seams with things to do, one option is to take a hike up to the South Downs. Never much one for walking in the country as a child, now that i'm firmly ensconced in my 30s I seem to have found myself walking the South Downs Way. Not exactly the beer swilling, late night Marmite toast munching, EMF blaring shennanigans of my 20s, admittedly, but, look, its a lot more healthy OK.

And I managed to pick up a rare collection of Django Reinhardt tunes on the way too, so there. No really, I did. Here's how. I started the South Downs Way a few weeks ago and did the Cuckmere Haven to Beachy Head stretch (arguably the best bit) and was really taken in by how much countryside there is right on Brighton's doorstep. So on Saturday I decided to hurl my best foot forward and catch the Newhaven train to Southease, jump off and head on to Alfriston for the 8 mile trek across the Downs, complete with fantastic views down to Newhaven Harbour and across to Mount Caburn. I'll ignore the fact I got lost and ended up in a field of annoyed looking cattle, looking at one another with raised cow eyebrows(and its almost impossible to get lost on the SDW as there are big green arrows everywhere), as in my world I was trying to get away from the man who seemed to be following me (he wasn't!).

It was blowing a force 9 gale up there but it was brilliant. Everyone chirrups hello as they pass you (most of my neighbours don't do that) and the views on a good day really are lovely. Right on the top there are these birds that make a noise akin to a really fast gabba track (a subgenre of hardcore techno don't you know). Really, its true - go and have a listen if you don't believe me - its near the 2 big pylons.

Its not a difficult walk to Alfriston (sans wind that is) and when you get there, there's a lovely choice of quaint tea shops to settle into if you're looking quite as unkempt as I was. Curly hair and force 9 gales never did mix. I looked like a mad Kevin Keegan/Mika hybrid. There's even a little shop that sells old and rare recordings of 1900+ recording stars. Which is where Django comes in. I'd been looking for a CD of the 4 fingered guitar extrordinaire for ages but I didn't expect to find it half way along the South Downs Way!

There's actually over 14,000 acres of countryside in Brighton and the surrounding areas, so if you fancy a walk or a rest from the buzz of Brighton, you know where to go...


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