The No Plan, Plan

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.

IMG_6446Brighton Pride in full colourful swing.

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.

rt006Subtlety was not on the list when the Regency Tavern was decorated, it’s all OTT Pink and leopard print, such fun! (source:www.shepherdneame.co.uk)

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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!

SunSeatsSmall Batch Coffee Company at Seven Dials (source:www.smallbatchcoffee.co.uk)

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.

IMG_0120The quirky Small Batch Coffee branch at Seven Dials

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!

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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.

IMG_6451All aboard the Open Top Bus to Devil’s Dyke

IMG_6453Great views from the top floor of the bus back across towards Hove and the sea

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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.  

DSC09941The Devil’s Dyke Pub sits at the top of the hill at the end of the bus route  

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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?

DSC09937Was it the work of the Devil or was mother nature its creator? Who knows, but it makes a great story.

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.

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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

DSC09930Amazing views across the beautiful countryside known as the South Downs

DSC09934Couple of wannabe tourists meandering around the countryside after a fantastic Sunday Roast and a bottle of red  

DSC09942Waiting at the Bus Stop for our ride back to Hove

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DSC09932Sunset views across Devil’s Dyke and the South Downs

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Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.