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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 journey, including the change at Haywards Heath, passed without incident. At Polegate, Tigger came aboard and we travelled on together to Eastbourne.
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.
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.
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 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.
What I take to be the castle keep was closed today so we could only look at it from outside.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.