A trip to the coast

In yesterday’s post I wrote that “I am looking forward to Omelette Day tomorrow and the possibility of a courier run next week.” What I didn’t know was that at that very minute a courier run was being planned for today and only learned about it later. Instead of our usual Omelette Day, we are heading south.

Brighton, Polegate, Hailsham and Eastbourne
Map showing Brighton, Polegate, Hailsham and Eastbourne

The delivery address is in Hailsham which is reached from London by a slightly circuitous route, as I shall explain shortly. Thinking that in the Hailsham area there is probably little to occupy us for a whole outing, especially on a dull wet day, we plan instead to continue on to Eastbourne. Tigger has gone on ahead and I am following later when travel is cheaper.

Tigger’s journey is as follows: bus to London Bridge; train to Brighton; train to Polegate; cab to Hailsham; cab to Polegate; train to Eastbourne. (See map above.) I have the easy part: tube to London Bridge, a train to Haywards Heath and another to Eastbourne. It’s a pity to miss the exciting bit – delivering the package – but it is sensible to save money on a cheaper ticket.

Brighton station this morning
Brighton station this morning – Photo by Tigger

Tigger let me know that she had reached Brighton safely at around 8 am and found the town dark and foggy. Let’s hope that the fog will clear as the morning goes on. She sent me a photo of the station which I have posted above.

London Bridge on a dull, wet morning
London Bridge on a dull, wet morning

I took the tube to London Bridge station for the start of my journey. The picture above shows the southern end of London Bridge, the road wet with rain and the atmosphere damp and dark.

The Shard again veiled with mist
The Shard again veiled with mist

London Bridge station is a very busy one, especially on weekday mornings, and also a famous bottleneck, not having enough tracks for the number of trains that have to go through it. Trains arrive and depart every few minutes amid a scramble of passengers. There are delays as trains have to wait for access to platforms.

Charing Cross train, platform 6, London Bridge
Charing Cross train, platform 6, London Bridge

By the time I joined my train at London Bridge, Tigger had made the delivery at Hailsham and returned to Polegate. My second train, from Haywards Heath, passes through Polegate on the way to Eastbourne. All being well, Tigger will join my train there so that we can continue on to Eastbourne together.

My train arriving at Polegate
My train arriving at Polegate – Photo by Tigger

My journey, including the change at Haywards Heath, passed without incident. At Polegate, Tigger came aboard and we travelled on together to Eastbourne.

Wetherspoon's Cornfield Garage
Wetherspoon’s Cornfield Garage

At Eastbourne we went for an early lunch to the Wetherspoon’s pub in Cornfield Road called the Cornfield Garage. This was originally a car showroom opened in 1926 by Robert R. James and run as such until 1976. The family still runs Visick Cars in Eastbourne.

Churchyard, St Mary the Virgin, Westham
Churchyard, St Mary the Virgin, Westham

After lunch, we were happy to see the sun come out and decided to go for a bus ride. Our chosen destination was the village of Westham. I was born here but the family left soon after my birth so I have never lived there.

Westham village green
Westham village green

This is Norman territory and also Roman territory before that. Close by Westham is the village of Pevensey with its big Norman castle or, rather, the ruins thereof. Nonetheless, Pevensey Castle is still impressive and worth a visit.

Within the castle walls
Within the castle walls

Within the outer walls is an area as large as a park, covered with grass and interestingly shaped with hummocks and dips. It seems to be a favourite with dog walkers.

The castle keep
The castle keep

What I take to be the castle keep was closed today so we could only look at it from outside.

A vestigial moat
A vestigial moat

Built around the year 1200, this structure has lasted well, I think, though it is now hard to make out the original structure without the help of an expert.

The castle's inhabitants
The castle’s inhabitants

The castle turned out to be inhabited – by pigeons. I was amused by the way they looked down at us with a mixture of confidence and caution, much as the original inhabitants must have looked on a besieging army.

The Heron, pub and village symbol
The Heron, pub and village symbol

Returning the Westham, we stopped off at the pub for refreshments. We had already noticed that the village sign displayed a heron. It turns out that Westham and the neighbouring parishes each have a symbol and the heron is the symbol of Westham.

I also had a question for the locals. I remembered that my family always pronounced the name of the village as two clear syllables, “West Ham”. On the other hand, railway announcements always refer to it as “West’m”. Which is correct? Everyone in the pub (all three of them) agreed that it is “West Ham” and that the railway has got it wrong. “You’ve made my day,” I said.

Westham Crossroads
Westham Crossroads

Getting to Westham is one thing; getting away from it is another. No one at the pub knew anything about buses. They suggested we take the train. Tigger phoned the travel line and received information that turned out to be incorrect. It did, however, send us to the bus stop at Westham Crossroads where we eventually caught a bus, despite the fact that the timetable posted there was out of date.

Gatepost lion, Westham
Gatepost lion, Westham

Despite this minor irritation, the visit to Westham and to Pevensey Castle was fun and we enjoyed it. There was plenty to see on the bus ride there and back, too. It is quite a beautiful area with airy towns and rolling countryside, not to mention the ever present promise of the sea.

Eastbourne's picturesque station
Eastbourne’s picturesque station

It was time to go back to Eastbourne’s picturesque railway station and prospect for a train to London. We had to change at Haywards Heath but this, in compensation, enabled us to travel all the way to St Pancras for an easy bus ride up the hill to home.

A courier run completed and a good day out in historic Sussex.

Westham village sign

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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9 Responses to A trip to the coast

  1. AEJ says:

    What a beautiful day it appears to have turned out for you two! I’m glad you got to have an impromptu adventure. I can’t tell who the better photographer is: you or Tigger. A very talented duo.

  2. WOL says:

    Granted it’s something like 900+ years old, but I have to say it looks like someone used Pevensy castle for cannon practice. The Westham sign is delightful. Beautiful piece of ironwork. — As I recall, the Romans commenced their invasion at pretty much the same spot as the Normans. Rather a large bailey the castle has, but they’d need grazing land for the cattle/horses/sheep in case of seige, room for the soldiers to bivouac and veggie plots besides. Wouldn’t it be great if someone could invent a “time window” that would allow us to see what places looked like at different times in the past? I’m sure the reality would be quite a bit less romantic than what we imagine.

    • SilverTiger says:

      I don’t know the history of Pevensey Castle but guess that it has been rebuilt and reused several times since the Normans built it. In the grounds is a Tudor gun emplacement so it is quite possible that it has been damaged by gunfire in some war or other.

      There is a plate indicating the position of the west gate of the Roman fort. Presumably, the Normans built on the ruins of the Roman establishment.

      To the people of the past, their life and times were as normal as ours are to us but if we could go back we would find that many things we take for granted were missing and I am not just talking about mobile phones!

  3. BFG says:

    The “local” pronunciation of place names has always interested me. Not far from where friends of mine used to live there is a place called Owlesbury. The locals however pronounce it “Ozzle-bree” – the “s” somehow swaps places with the “l”.

    Similarly, where I live now is next to Mount Cahuenga – pronounced “Co-wang-guh” by locals.

    While it occurs to me, I notice that Tigger’s photos don’t get a copyright notice – maybe that might be an idea if she’s not averse to it? There are just too many thieves about these days…

    • SilverTiger says:

      Place names (and even personal names) always have to be approached with caution. Names evolve in the same way that other words do and when you look into the history of a place you usually find that in ancient documents and maps, its name appears in different forms. This probably means that the way locals pronounce the name has evolved and that the spelling has from time to time been updated to reflect the latest pronunciation. For example, Islington appears in older documents Iseldon and similar variants. I have no idea when it changed to Islington or why.

      Copyright is a fraught issue. I didn’t put a copyright notice on Tigger’s photos because I know she displays them elsewhere online and if I were to put a notice on them that could complicate matters.

      Most personal bloggers seem not to worry much about copyright. I am unusual in that respect. It may be pure coincidence but since I have started putting a copyright notices on both my posts and photos, I have found them copied much less often than before. I suppose that could also mean that I am becoming less interesting! 🙂

      • BFG says:

        Taking the example of Islington, it’s as if locals pronounced it today as Isledon, even though it’s spelled Islington. Makes you wonder how the local pronunciation managed to avoid changing with the times (assuming that Owlesbury did have a different spelling in days gone by).

        About the copyright for Tigger – I wasn’t clear in my comment: I meant to suggest that Tigger’s photos carry a “(c) 2011 Tigger”; that way there would be no issue over who owned the copyright, even if it appeared in your blog.

        Now if I really wanted to stir it, I’d suggest that Tigger should be paid a royalty for each use 🙂

  4. We have a fascinating insight into place name evolution locally. A nearby village is called Regil an pronounced ‘reh-jil’ with the ‘e’ as in egg. Locals smirk at you if you elongate the ‘e’ as in eel. All the modern signposts carry this spelling of the village but to the south there are some very old signs that are certainly pre-war and probably date from the introduction of signs around the Great War. These identify the village as Ridge Hill. Took me a while to click, but it explains why Ree-jil can’t possibly be the right pronunciation.

    • SilverTiger says:

      That is a very interesting example of name-evolution in action.

      It astonishes me that such a big change from Ridge Hill to Regil would be accepted by the local authorities in the modern era when record keeping is so strict. Something odd is going on and it would be interesting to find out what. It might be worth checking with the local history society to see whether they can cast any further light on the issue. Also, the local history section of the public library may have information.

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