On Friday 29th May we heard that the weather was forecast to be warm and sunny for the next four days so we did what anyone would do under the circumstances; we booked to go to Lewes or, if you want to be pedantic, to Offham which is two miles from Lewes town centre.

We picked Offham because The Blacksmiths Arms had accomodation available and it's not easy to get accommodation in Lewes with its own parking without paying for very expensive hotels. There was also a bus into Lewes which stopped right outside the Blacksmiths Arms. So that was settled then and we were due to go on Sunday 31st May.

Sunday arrived warm and sunny. We left home about 10:00 AM and arrived in Offham at about 12:15 PM after a relatively stress free journey.

Sunday 31st May

After unpacking we immediately left again for Ditchling Beacon on the South Downs which was an easy 9 mile drive. There is a car park on top of Ditchling Beacon which was very handy and this is the view that greeted us when we got out of the car.

We were planning to walk along the ridge to see Jack and Jill and so we set off together with numerous other people. This was a sunny Sunday remember and everyone was out and about. Jack and Jill must be along there somewhere.

After a very picturesque walk in the sunshine of some two miles or so we caught our first glimpse of Jack.

Jack as you can see is a tower mill. Very soon after seeing Jack we arrived at Jill which you can see is a post mill.

Jill was actually working, although you can't see that in the still photographs, and occasionally the little vane on wheels would start to rotate as the direction of the wind changed and the wheels would start to move along their track keeping the mill pointed into the wind.

We went inside right up to the top floor where we could feel the mill swaying. It is after all a whole building pivoting on a single post so there is bound to be some movement.

Here are Jack and Jill together with the moon showing above Jack (the black mill).

We shall leave you with this view from the windmills showing Ditchling village at the bottom of the hill.

As a matter of interest that white blob in the distance is yet another post mill. We now have another two miles to walk back to the car but we do get a second look at all that lovely scenery on the way. Along part of the ridge we could see the sea and part of Brighton and a small patch of white chalk cliff further east. Back to the hotel at the end of the day but will the weather last?

Monday 1st June.

Today is another sunny day and after breakfast we catch the bus outside the Blacksmiths Arms arriving in Lewes High Street about ten minutes later.

Our trip to Lewes, as with the other places, will all appear on the main web site in detail sometime later so I'm only going to give a brief account here.

A little way from where we got off the bus is the medieval castle entrance in the High Street. It had been closed the whole of the winter for maintenance and was still closed so we couldn't go inside. It apparently opened later in the week that we were there but we were too early. It looks moderately impressive but nowhere near as impressive as Bodiam or Conwy.

This is the view through the Barbican Gatehouse.

What's left of the Keep stands on a separate mound within the castle boundary and I believe visitors can go up both the Barbican Tower and the Keep.

After looking around the outside of the castle we arrived back in High Street and spotted an old timber-framed building which we went to look at. It turned out to be on the corner of Keere Street which is one of those quaint, steep and narrow cobbled streets – rather picturesque.

We had to walk down Keere Street, of course, and found ourselves by Southover Grange Gardens – a beautiful little oasis in the middle of the town. As we were now at the bottom of the hill we made our way to Anne of Cleeves House which is another fine old timber-framed building which is open to the public but we didn't go in.

A little further is the ruined Lewes Priory.

You can see how lumpy it is around here from the view of the hills in the background.

We went from the Priory back towards the lower part of the town centre by the river. One thing I will say for Lewes is that it has a lot of nice places to eat. We spotted Chapel Lane which gives access to a footpath up onto the Downs but more of that later and we also saw English's Passage which is supposed to be one of the narrowest Twittens in the country and there are houses along both sides.

We were both getting tired by this time but I was determined to get up onto the Downs so Amanda decided to potter round the shops whilst I did the heroic climb. I set off for Chapel Lane which is pretty steep and found the public footpath going up onto the downs. I set off up the path but crikey, puff, wheeze, hang on a minute, gasp – now that WAS steep. After numerous rests the path became, thankfully, less steep and after about one and a half miles I took this picture.

Lewes is somewhere down there in the valley. I managed another half mile and decided I didn't have time, or the energy, to continue so I went back into Lewes and met up with Amanda again. I had walked just over 10 miles in Lewes today. It was now getting late in the day so we decided to get the bus back to the Blacksmiths Arms. We will see what the weather brings tomorrow.

Tuesday 2nd June.

Another fine sunny day so we put Plan 'A' into action which was to travel the short distance north to a place called Sheffield Park. We chose that for two reasons. It was one end of the Bluebell Line, a heritage steam railway, and it was home to the National Trust's Sheffield Park Garden.

The Bluebell Line was a few hundred yards nearer than the gardens so we stopped there first and we were in luck as there was a steam train in the station waiting to go. We weren't going for a ride as that would take too much time but we were hoping to see one.

After the train had gone we had a look in the engine shed. It was a very large shed packed with locomotives on three lines and standing next to some of these on the same level as the bottom of their wheels they looked gigantic! In the yard behind the shed were other numerous locomotives of which these rather cute tank engines were just two.

So now on to our main reason for this trip – Sheffield Park Gardens. This garden, at this time of year, was a revelation and we thought it to be the best garden of its kind that we had yet seen. A detailed report will appear on the web site sometime so I'll give just a flavour of what we saw here.

What a riot of colour and not just the flowers. There were even red, green, grey and yellow foliage on the trees. This garden was indeed blooming marvellous. Needless to say we spend most of the day here and finally went back to our accommodation tired but happy. More good weather tomorrow (the day we leave for home)?

Wednesday 3rd June.

Yet another warm sunny morning but today we go home. However before we do that we decide to go to Devil's Dyke which would also allow Amanda to call in on a plant nursery nearby that specialises in Pinks for some particular varieties that she wants.

Devil's Dyke is a well known beauty spot but shouldn't be too crowded mid-week in early june and that proved to be the case. There is a road up the hill and a car park on top which is fortuitous as we both feel somewhat knackered after the exertions of the last few days.

This is what we saw when we got out of the car.

That view does not include the actual dyke itself but this next view does. The dyke is the deep valley seen from the top looking down. Dyke is another term for ditch and it is said that this 'ditch' was created by the devil.

This view is from the bottom looking up.

So we did that and now it's time to go to the nursery for Amanda to buy her plants. Then we head home. The interesting thing is that after we'd left the nursery around lunchtime it started to cloud up and within an hour there was no blue sky to be seen. How's that for timing?

A rather good trip and wonderful weather.

P.S. By Friday it was too cold for a short sleeve shirt and even with a long sleeve shirt another layer was required to be comfortable. That's English weather for you. :???: