Bruce and Angus spent part of the school holidays going on a few adventures around East Sussex.
First, we went to the Bluebell Railway which runs from East Grinstead to Sheffield Park using a vintage steam train and similar-era carriages. This is a very pleasant 9-mile journey through the rolling countryside and we were fortunate to have sunny weather on the day. Sheffield Park station was built in 1882 specifically as a stop for a local “great estate” belonging to Lord Sheffield and it has been faithfully restored to its original splendour. We travelled from Hove to East Grinstead by train via East Croydon, changing there for a slow train which stopped at all the villages on the way with such memorable and evocative names as Riddlesdown, Upper Warlingham, Woldingham. These days, going by the number of Range Rovers and Audis in the station carparks, they are probably more just upmarket London commuter suburbs than English villages, but the names still take one back to childhood story books of sixty years ago.
Our next trip was much shorter, just on the bus to the Brighton Pier and surrounding area. Although this structure is comparatively recent, the original having been burnt down, it still retains the style of the typical English seaside pier for holidaymakers in the 1950s and 1960s (although the saucy postcards seem to have gone, Granddad noted). There are free deckchairs, funfair rides and shops selling icecreams, doughnuts, chips, and other such healthy fare. Angus wanted doughnuts so we bought a “value” pack of 4 at a stall which made them while you wait, a process that actually diminished the appetite somewhat as the thick balls of gluggy dough were put on a conveyor, immersed in hot, murky fat then dunked into a sugar bin. Granddad had one, Angus had one, and the rest were discreetly recycled. Then at the end of the pier were the amusement arcades. Angus went through about two quid’s worth of pennies in a vain attempt to win more pennies in those machines which always look as if the piles of coins are just millimetres away from dropping into the collection shute but somehow never quite get there. As he was showing all the signs of a tendency to gambling addiction just in that short time (and if it’s hereditary, I know just which great uncle to blame) Granddad found an excuse to leave: it’s lunchtime, so what would you like to eat? “McDonalds?” a hopeful voice queried. Well, it has to be an improvement on doughnuts.
Our third adventure was to Arundel Castle, again by train, although a relatively short journey from Hove. The castle was closed for a private function but the Keep and the grounds were open and there were displays of archery and other medieval pursuits by local hobbyists.