Monday, September 21, 2015

As one adventure ends another one begins…...

If I don't get some of this down in print I shall be overwhelmed with updates and end up missing things  out as this is a very busy phase here in Redheadland.

At the weekend there was an 'Unusual Plant Fair' at a place we've never visited before, Fairlight Hall near Hastings. Mike was happy to join me as we were able to have a look round the grounds and there was coffee and cake on offer!

The entrance to the field where the plant fair was being held was down a long and very narrow cinder track. It had rained very heavily the day before and when we arrived at the field they'd designated as the parking area we were told that the surface was treacherous and that they had nearly cancelled as a result. They'd done their best to lay down some gravel to give some grip but I was told to put my foot down to get through the really wet area - and so I did. We parked near to the entrance and boy was I glad we did; more of that later.

Everywhere was absolutely sodden and very muddy and we were very glad we'd donned sensible boots (we saw some ladies wandering down the lane wearing sandals so I suspect they might have had very squelchy feet!). The organisers were busy laying down straw to make it easier to walk on the muddy bits. We had a quick look around the plant stalls but there wasn't anything there to tempt me as I already grow a wide range of unusual plants. I did, however, have a nice chat with a local nurseryman and will be visiting his nursery next Spring as he told me had had an even greater selection than he could bring.

Now for the Hall and grounds. There was a grass track from the lower field up to the rear of the Hall.

Far-reaching views over to Rye and the sea

What an imposing looking building it is. Neo-Gothic and castellated with octagonal turrets.

The rear view

Front view

An interesting bronze sculpture of The Three Graces by St Clair de Cemin

I loved the ornate lights

An imposing entrance doorway

Interesting ornamentation

Dog kennels - there were several large German Shepherds wandering around.

I chuckled at all the wellies hanging inside the porch!

Mike disappearing through the archway to one side of the property.

Side 1, with what looks as if it might be an orangery

Afternoon tea on the lawn anyone?

Side 2, with close-up of the wonderful chimneys (taken whilst partaking of scrummy chocolate cake and coffee in the courtyard area)

Refreshed, we went for a wander around the grounds. I'm not sure how many acres there are but apparently there's a helipad there somewhere and there was certainly plenty to see:

The walled vegetable/fruit garden

Yes, I did have a touch of glasshouse envy!

I loved the cotoneasters and pyracanthas laden with berries

The long border which runs across the length of the rear of the house

Fabulous views over to Rye Harbour and the wind farm

Heleniums brighten the autumnal border

Two Sphinx's guard the entrance to the wilder areas

Some half-hidden steps leading to…...

…….this amazing boat complete with cushions and steps leading down inside for the children to play

Eat your heart out Kate Winslet!

The section that made me really jealous as it's the perfect micro-climate to grow moisture-loving exotics.

My Chusan Palm was shredded by the strong winds we get at home but this has a tall shelter-belt to protect it.


I don't know what this is but the flowers are like Hedychium (the ginger lily)

More mature palms.

The eye-catching blue, sausage-shaped pods of Descaisnea fargesii. I have a young plant at home in a pot but it isn't old enough to produce these spectacular pods yet.

One of many Dicksonia  antartica

Mike standing by a more mature specimen for scale

The obligatory Gunnera!

A juvenile Monkey Puzzle tree

Next to the tennis court, complete with Umpire's chair and gazebo for spectators, we discovered this statue of a dog watching over the players.

Nearby there was an enclosure with 2 beautiful white peacocks.

What a wonderful morning we had there but as we headed back to the car park, aka the field of mud, we noticed that there was a massive line of cars queueing back up the track. Oh oh! This could only mean one thing, cars were getting stuck in the mud. We then sat in a queue of very patient drivers waiting to get out whilst they painstakingly cleared the queue, often having to push the cars across the very rutted bit at the entrance.

The people in charge of parking were in contact with those at the entrance gates to ensure that no other cars were allowed until the queue of us waiting to exit had been cleared. Finally, after about 15 minutes (which felt like an hour!) the last car was parked safely in the field and we were able to exit fairly quickly - which is why I was glad we'd parked near the entrance!

The next day I had a little jaunt to Bexhill-on-Sea to take part in a 10k race along the new road linking the town to Hastings. The road is as yet unfinished with parts of it tarmaced but other sections still unmade.

This road has been the subject of a lot of controversy, not least because it cuts across the place where some historians/archaeologists believe the Battle of Hastings took place as opposed to nearby Battle Abbey. The route has been designed to Avoid Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is due to open in Autumn this year but it looks a fair way off opening just yet.

I wasn't treating this as a race as my next marathon is just 2 days away, quickly followed by and ultra marathon, so I just trotted along and enjoyed the scenery which was stunning. It was rather hot though and the organisers had not put on enough water stations with just one at the turnaround point positioned    so that it blocked the way of the runners coming around the marker. I heard lots of grumbling about that but even more about the route which they had described as "undulating" which in my view was accurate although there was a bit of a slog up towards the turnaround point. I suspect that anyone who's familiar with the Hastings 1/2 marathon would not have been surprised by the course. Anyway, flat routes are boring!

My time was around 59 minutes which is a personal worst time for 10k (my pb's 52 minutes) but at least I scraped in under the hour and I got another nice horse brass to add to my collection (7 from the Hastings 1/2 marathon, 1 from the Hastings centenary marathon and 1 from the Dartford 1/2 marathon).

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