“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” Eleanor Roosevelt
I was very lucky to spend a great deal of my weekends in the UK down by the sea in East Sussex with friends who have a lovely little retreat in Hove. The great thing about Hove weekends is the ‘The No Plan, Plan’, everyone just goes with the flow, wander past a bar and stop for a drink, people watch on the promenade, grab a bite wherever we fancy, amble through the Lanes and things just happen. The thing that’s always guaranteed is copious amounts of alcohol, plenty of yummy food and a lot of laughs, ideal recipe for a perfect weekend.
One of these trips coincided with the colourful annual Gay Pride (Brighton Pride) that takes over the town on the first weekend of August every year. Pride is a marvellous sight, packed with partygoers in all sorts of attire (and I mean all sorts!) and practically everywhere is adorned with the rainbow flag in support of the weekends activities.
We were just onlookers enjoying the party vibe of the town assisted by a rather dubious jug of Long Island Ice Tea, masses of hilarity and a visit to The Regency Tavern, the pub with a full-on pink camp interior, leopard print thrones, a grand piano and toilets decked out like a West End theatre. It was kind of like a grown-up version of a Barbie house but with a bar!
The Hove No Plan, Plan always starts with a visit to Small Batch Coffee Company in one of their locations across Hove and Brighton. This particular Sunday morning we visited the Seven Dials branch, a perfect spot to enjoy a sunny morning coffee and a spot of people watching. This coffee shop is located in an old Barclay’s Bank branch complete with the coffee training lab and bathrooms in the old vaults, very quirky.
Small Batch is a locally owned coffee roasting company, with seven locations across Hove and Brighton, who roast all their coffee bought from farmers at sustainable prices at Goldstone Villas in Hove. The coffee blows high street chain coffee out the window and the food is tasty too, especially the Banana Bread with chocolate….delicious!
Whilst sitting watching the world go by and discussing where to have a Sunday Roast, first world problem right there, an open top bus went by and a plan was formed, a trip up to Devil’s Dyke on the aforementioned bus to the pub at the top of the hill. A quick stroll round Brighton and a stop for a cheeky cider in the Sussex Yeoman Pub to wet the whistle and we boarded the bus at the seafront. The bus went through Brighton and along the Devil’s Dyke road through Hove, the top deck a perfect place to nose into all the stunning large houses on the way out to the countryside.
The Devil’s Dyke pub is a charming rustic affair and a mecca for visitors on a summery Sunday afternoon with its enviable position as the only pub/restaurant at top of the Devil’s Dyke always ensuring a constant trade. The Sunday Roast was mouth-wateringly delicious as was the lovely bottle of red from the extensive wine selection, just what was needed after a blustery open-top bus ride! The only very minor downside was the slightly slow service but it seems we were lucky considering some of the reviews I’ve read on Trip-advisor which absolutely slate the service, maybe the pub is just a victim of its own success.
Local legend has it that the Devil’s Dyke valley (longest, deepest and widest ‘dry valley’ in the UK) was the work of Lucifer. This farfetched tale says that the devil was digging a trench so the sea would flood the churches and drown all the parishioners in the Weald of Sussex, which disturbed an old woman who then lit a candle, angering a rooster causing it to crow, making the devil believe it was nearly morning so he fled, leaving his trench unfinished. He allegedly threw his last shovel of earth over his shoulder which fell into the sea and formed the Isle of Wight. Hmmmm…totally believable, right?
Other variations of how Devil’s Dyke came into existence also cite the Devil as the creator and are all equally as bizarre, but however it came to being nothing can change the fact that it’s a stunning area of natural beauty and offers the most amazing panoramic views across the surrounding countryside for miles. A more believable explanation comes from scientists who believe Devil’s Dyke was formed naturally just over 10,000 years ago in the last ice age.
The site is now owned by the National Trust and part of the defensive wall of an Iron Age hill fort can be seen over the hill on one side. The site is popular with hikers, cyclists, hand gliders and perfect for kite flying and there were many brightly coloured kites of all shapes and sizes flying high in the sky when we were there. Painter John Constable described the panoramic views from Devil’s Dyke as ‘the grandest view in the world‘
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.