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An enriched lifestyle starts at
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Place yourself perfectly for retirement living, available now for purchase and rental options, call our friendly team today on 01342 870871 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or gradwellparksales@ retirementvillages.co.uk Charters Village, Felcourt Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 2JR Gradwell Park, Gradwell End, Off Mill Lane, South Chailey, BN8 4PX www.chartersvillage.co.uk / www.gradwellpark.co.uk facebook.com/retirementvillages
Well, at last it seems as though spring has sprung, after what has been a long and very wet winter. So, with greenery gracing the trees and fresh new shoots appearing everywhere, this looks like a good time to talk about gardens. In this issue we introduce you to an award-winning garden design and landscaping expert who loves helping people to achieve the garden of their dreams. We also tell you about the upcoming Firle Village Garden Show, a wonderful event for all the family, packed with everything a gardener could need as well as gorgeous artisan crafts and beautiful designs and fun activities for youngsters. You’ll be fascinated to read about the colourful life of a multi-talented artist who recalls her rock ‘n’ roll years when she mingled with the musical greats of the time. We also have a feature on another very resilient lady who has had to rise to several major challenges as a pub manager. Then there’s the tale of a body builder who found that turning vegan transformed his life. Add to that our regular features and the popular historical articles, and it makes for another great issue we know you’ll enjoy. We’re always looking for more people with an exciting story to tell or a beautiful picture to share, so if you know of anyone who deserves to have the spotlight turned on them, please email us at email@example.com
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I N T H I S I SSU E . . .
THIS IS LEWES
We have a brand new section for all amateur photographers. This months pictures are shared by the editor on his many travels over the district.
What a journey Ursuala has been on! We meet the artist who once partied in Beverley Hills, rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous and why art is her first love.
HIGGIDY FAMILY KITCHEN CAMILLA STEPHENS This month on page 36, we introduce to you our new Food Editor, Richard Hedges. He shares with us great recipes from the Higgidy team, which are great for all the family, easy to understand and all are super-tasty.
STAY IN CONTACT LEWES
BEV STEDMAN Meet the No.1 Landlady in Lewes, Bev Stedman, and read exclusively how she overcame PTSD to run one on the town’s oldest drinking establishments, The John Harvey Tavern.
We’d love to hear from you! If you are a local business within the Lewes District or resident with a story to tell and you’d like to be featured, please email: email@example.com To advertise email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01273 033 500
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B E V E R LE Y H I LL S TO RU R A L SUSSEX Ursula Stone reflects on the glamorous rock â€˜nâ€™ roll lifestyle she once led and tells Jo Rothery that she now lives for her art
the big interview
vocative oil paintings with a hint of mystery and exquisite life drawings are at the very heart of multi-talented artist Ursula’s existence nowadays. It’s a far cry from the hedonistic days of the late Sixties and early Seventies when she rubbed shoulders with many legendary figures during the heyday of rock ‘n’ roll. That exciting lifestyle may be in the past, but Ursula has retained her essential glamour, lively sense of fun, and enormous energy, now devoted to her painting. It’s easy to see why famous singer/songwriter Van Morrison was in love with her, and that she was a member of the party-loving set who hung out with the likes of The Kinks, The Trogs, Benny King, The Animals, and Jimmy Hendrix. She was even part of the John and Yoko scene, living in a cottage on their estate in Berkshire and trusted to take care of their domestic arrangements primarily. She is happy to chat about those days, but were they all about ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’? “I think there was a lot of that, but I was married,” Ursula says with a laugh.“There was plenty of rock ‘n’ roll, but it was more about lots of parties, lots of friends. Of course, there were drugs, but I wasn’t into that scene. “It was crazy at times, especially when we were
Main image: Beautiful landscape oil painting by Ursula; Left: Ursula when she was younger; Right: Beverly Hills
living in LA. The fabulous Beverley Hills lifestyle, incredible houses, driving around in limos. That was just the way we all lived. “One day I was buying things in a wholefood store, and some guy came up to me and said ‘that’s a great product.’ He asked me if I was English and told me that he was ‘in a little band.’ He was one of the Beachboys!” Ursula’s life has never been ordinary or conventional, and although rock ‘n’ roll played such a large part for many years, art has been her rock since she was a child, a sound foundation that kept her grounded wherever life took her and is now her main focus. Born into an artistic environment with a long family history of artists and painters, she is the great grand-daughter of the renowned painter Ludwig Fahrenkrog whose work was admired by Hitler. “All my family have been artists, that’s my history, and I have been painting and drawing since I was a child,” she says. “My great grandfather, Ludwig Fahrenkrog, attended the Berlin Royal Art Academy and taught at the School of Arts and Crafts in Bremen from 1898 to 1931. Herr Hitler wanted him to be the state painter, but he refused that and was put on Hitler’s blacklist.
the big interview
Ursula in her studio; Right: John Lennon; Ursula relaxing in her garden; ‘Presence’ by Ursula; Ursula’s admirer Van Morrison
“My grandfather, a politician, was on the same blacklist - they both fell out of favour with Herr Hitler. “My great grandfather, who went on to be a professor in Rome, had five daughters, and they all drew or painted. My mother started as an illustrator but moved on to painting portraits and eventually landscapes, then art restoration. I’m the eldest of six children, and we’ve all been creative. “That’s my history, art came down to me from my mother’s side, and I always drew from my very early days. I went to a new progressive school in Yorkshire, which did lots of art and pottery. I did mostly pottery as that was the only warm place in the whole school!” Ursula’s father was not artistic, and his work as a teacher then psychologist took the family to America before they returned to England, living on the Wirral in Cheshire before moving on again to Ireland. Ursula did a foundation course at Belfast College of Art, and that’s where she met Van Morrison. “I had a different name then, Ursula Graham White, and years later a friend called me to say there was a whole thing about me in a Sunday Times magazine supplement, using that name. It was about part of a book on Van Morrison, and that’s where I discovered he had been in love with me!” 12 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
It wasn’t Van Morrison that Ursula married, though. Her first husband was Mick Cox, a guitarist who was one of Van’s best friends.The couple moved to London, and she studied ceramics at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts. Her talent for drawing came to the fore, and she became a sought-after graphic designer working in London and Dublin. “Meeting up with musicians started when I was at art school in Belfast,” Ursula recalls. “That’s when I became friends with Van Morrison, who was a little bit famous but not well-known at the time. We were great friends and hung out together, and I loved being part of that circle of musicians at that time and made a lot of different friends. Mick Cox, Van’s guitar player, became my first husband. “Just after Mick and I married, he was asked by Van to go to the United States. At the same time, he was asked to play with Eire Apparent, an Irish band he’d played with before, who was going to be the support act on a Jimmy Hendrix tour of America. He went out there, taking the place of a guitarist who had been thrown out of Canada because of drugs, so he couldn’t do the tour. “I followed later, and we lived in the Chelsea Hotel in New York. It was THE rock ‘n’ roll hotel and a lot of people lived there all the time - it was very down at heel!
“I came back to London for a while, but then Mick went on another tour, and I returned to the States where we lived in Los Angeles and dived into that lifestyle.” Eventually, Ursula and Mick split up, and she came back to the UK. After meeting up with her second husband, she didn’t do much art for a while until her second child began attending a progressive Steiner school, and Ursula was offered work there as a teacher on the creative side. Her links to the rock ‘n’ roll glory days were far from over, however. “I was asked if I wanted a little job, helping John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s assistant. It developed from there - John and Yoko’s housekeeper stormed off, and I stepped into her shoes. “They didn’t like having a lot of people around, so I did everything - I rolled the joints, and I cooked the joints for lunch. They were recording Imagine at the time as there was a recording studio in the house and filming for it as well. I think I could be seen several times on the film, but Yoko cut out a lot of the bits where I appeared. “John was very down to earth. The first time I met him, I was so overwhelmed I could hardly speak. But he made me feel at ease straight away. What you saw was what you got with him. “He was an absolute genius, an amazing man. There was a massive library in the house, with books from floor to ceiling, reached by big white ladders. John and Yoko were away quite a lot, so I wasn’t busy when they weren’t there, and one day I found on the top shelves some of his work when he’d been editor of his school magazine. He was incredibly creative, but a regular guy who was so easy to get on with.
“I had a different relationship with Yoko. She came from a very wealthy Japanese family where she had been treated a bit like a princess, so she was used to giving orders. “I lived in a little cottage on their estate, and I was with them until they moved to New York. They asked me to go with them, but I decided it wasn’t right for me.” Ursula’s links to rock ‘n’ roll legends were to continue for a while longer. “I was asked to be the personal chef to Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, so I lived with him and his wife for several years at their magnificent historic Oxfordshire home in Thame,” she says. Although Ursula’s passion for art had been put on the back burner during her years mixing with the rich and famous, it had never waned and was to become the main focus of her life once more, as it remains today. Her stunning work made a significant impact when it was exhibited at galleries in Lewes and Forest Row, and she has also exhibited extensively in London and the South-East since the mid-1990s. “When the children were older, I met my third husband, and once the children were a certain age, I trained in art therapy and did a placement. I then worked as an art therapist, which involved painting and drawing every day, and that led to a deepening of the artistic process for me,” she says. “Now, all I want to do is paint. I have two streams - my life drawings and my landscapes, which I think of as moodscapes. In essence, my work is about feeling, feeling through my senses, and discovering TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK | 13
what lies beyond and below the surface of what I wish to express visually. “I endeavour to seek visual harmony, beauty and balance, and a new perception of the inner and outer world through painting, drawing, and poetry. I work with simple themes that are deeply worked through to find new images often abstract and sometimes finding familiar forms. “I’ve worked with all the elements now. First was water, then fire and earth and, more recently, the air. I like to work really big with my ‘inert’ landscapes, or moodscapes. A friend said recently that they made you want to ‘get in them and walkabout’. I want to give people something lovely to live with and that they can put themselves into, imagine themselves in that scene. “It can be quite a chaotic process. I never know beforehand what I am going to paint, so I use big palette knives and big brushes to start with and wait for something to happen. I like my work to have a sense of mystery, mysticism, and the titles of each painting are very important to me as I believe they enhance the image. “My life drawings are just as important to me, and I tend to keep them minimal. I draw very quickly, often using moving models, and I believe
one beautiful line is better than ten, which don’t quite make it. Some have just been bought for a big project at a hotel in Miami, where they’re being used to line the walls of its Crystal Spa.” Ursula’s life has undoubtedly rocked, and she has a wealth of fond memories of her days with some of the music world’s most celebrated personalities. Still, she is entirely contented with the peace she finds with a paintbrush in her hand amid the beauty of the Sussex countryside. •
Images: Ursula Stone, Shutterstock.com
the big interview
Images: Ursula Stone, Shutterstock.com
Ursula in her studio; Above: ‘The call of the horizon’ painting by Ursula
14 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
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Car boot, April 5 & 19
The Rotary car boot sale will be held at Martello Field, Seaford on Sunday, April 5 and Sunday, April 19.
D I A RY
Market day, April 4
Family events throughout April,
Forest Row Village Market, winner of Britain’s Best Small Community Market in 2017, is one of the finest gatherings in Sussex of suppliers of good food and handmade crafts. It was also grand finalist in the Sussex Food and Drink Awards Best Farmers Market for 2017, 2019 and 2020 and is the first market in the UK to become plastic-free, zero-waste and dementiafriendly. You can sample and buy the wares on Saturday, April 4.
There’s a whole host of events over the next few weeks at Drusillas Park, near Alfriston. Peter Rabbit will be there on Tuesday, April 8 and on April 9 and again on April 16, Hello Kitty will be making a welcome return where you can visit her in her beautiful themed house. You can get nose to nose with birds of prey on Easter Monday, April 13 when Sussex Falconry bring alone some of these magnificent creatures, including owls, hawks and more. New event this year, the incredible birds will spend the day in the events arena, where visitors will be able to see and learn all about them being safely held by falconry experts. More details drusillas.co.uk
On the right track, for this April There’s lots happening at the Bluebell Railway in April. Over the weekend of April 3-5, the railway will host a fun-packed branch line weekend, showcasing its small locomotives. A busy timetable will recreate the branch line feel of the railway in its heyday by focusing on the use of the small but mighty Bluebell engines at their best and there will be some special visitors. There’ll be lots of fun for youngsters at the railway over the whole of the Easter bank holiday weekend, April 10-13, with a springtime themed bunny hunt and nature trails. One of the highlights of the
upcoming events will be the evening of Murder and Mystery on Friday, April 17, when passengers will witness the events leading up to and including a dastardly murder before taking their seats on the Golden Arrow where detective packs, clues and three-course silver service meal await. During a journey through the Sussex countryside amid the splendour of your traditional carriage, you will have opportunities to cross-examine the surviving characters, played by professional actors, and sift through the clues, keeping out for tricky red herrings as the murder will lie to protect themselves. Pre-booking for the murder mystery evening is essential. bluebell-railway.com
TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK | 17
D I A RY
Apr 17-19 POSTPONED UNTIL OCT 16 - 18
Springtime show, April 17-19 One of the highlights on the spring calendar is the superb Firle Garden Show that this year takes place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 17-19. This great family-friendly three-day event in a beautiful setting has something for everyone, not just gardeners, as it hosts a stunning array of unique crafts produced by local artisans and lively activities for children.
The beautiful 9-acre garden at Banks Farm, Lewes, will be open for the NGS charity on Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26. Set in rural countryside, extensive lawns and shrub beds merge with the more naturalistic woodland garden set around the lake. An orchard, vegetable garden, ponds and a wide variety of plant species add to this interesting and very tranquil setting. On Sunday, April 26 the romantic garden at Offham House will be welcoming visitors to see its fountains, flowering trees, arboretum, herbaceous border and long peony bed. Thereâ€™s also a herb garden and walled kitchen garden, as well as chickens, guinea fowl, sheep and ducks. 18 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
Street story, April 20 The history of Mill Road, Malling is the topic for Lewes History Groupâ€™s meeting on Monday, April 20, told by Chris Taylor who has researched the development of its industries and buildings alongside uncovering the story of a few of the people who have lived and worked there since the 16th century. Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start at Kings Church, Brooks Road, Lewes. More details leweshistory.org.uk
Images: Ian Lee, nigel Menzies/Flickr, Shutterstock.com
Lewes open gardens, April 25-26
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THIS IS LEWES: IN PICTURES Every month we will be devoting our This is Lewes pages to views from across the district. If you would like your images published all you need to do is send to email@example.com
‘Evening stroll’ By S Kane, Lewes 20 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
‘Shadows’ By S Kane, Lewes
‘Emptiness’ By R Judd, Lewes
‘Flea market’ By S Kane, Lewes TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK | 21
TH E Y C A LLE D IT A NC I E NT S L AUG HTE R TH E B LOO DY H I S TO RY O F H A LL A N D Where Alfred took on the Vikings is called Terrible Down Words: Keith Hayes
hen the editor of this magazine starts rampaging, it’s best to duck below the parapet and wait it out. When I popped into the magazine last week, I had no idea he was on a rampage. Why would I? I hadn’t seen him in a couple of weeks. So cheerfully I led with my chin, then realised immediately my mistake. ‘Hayes.’ He was growling now. ‘. Hayes’. The second time was a snarl. “what the hell has got into your stories? ‘ This wasn’t a question; he was winding himself up like a baseball pitcher, ready to hurl missiles, albeit verbal, at a hundred miles an hour towards any living soul stupid enough to get in the firing line. I was the stupid soul. ‘Hayes’. A third time and the time to duck. ‘There’s been no blood and guts, no stabbing and
22 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
killing, no knees wobbling in terror for some time now,’ he yelled. ‘I told you at the start. Bloodshed. I made it clear lots of slaughter. Blood running in the streets.’ Thank the Lord that is what was upsetting him. I pounced with the perfect response. ‘Well guv,’ I began. We keep the old Fleet Street term of endearment in the T&C office. We’re very traditional. ‘Well, Guv, I’m just bringing you a story called ‘Ancient Slaughter’. If his expression can soften, for a moment it did. Then the snarl. ‘Laughter. Will it make me laugh?’ That’s always the Guv’s second condition. Make me laugh. ‘Well it has a bit about royalty keeping an eye on dinner and letting it burn.’ Now there’s a gleam in his eye. ‘Tell me more’ at this point I have no idea how I’m going to make burning dinner amusing, so I have to shut down the conversation quickly. ‘It won’t surprise you if I tell you now,’ I blustered, expecting a flurry of further queries. But his face had mellowed. I was safe, at least for the moment. The story of Ancient Slaughter is largely unknown. In fact, it’s only archaeologists who poke around on the ground, who are slowly gathering firm evidence of a major English battle site from the time when Saxons ruled the roost in the ninth century. The burned supper gives the game away, though. The tale is about King Alfred and his thoughts of fighting off Vikings, when he was supposed to be
watching savory cakes for an old lady who had offered him shelter. Ancient Slaughter is the old Saxon name for Halland, a small straggling village in the heart of East Sussex, about six miles from Lewes. But itâ€™s an apt name, because two fierce battles key to the destiny of England, were fought here. Four hundred years apart, according to legend, both battles spilled huge amounts of blood, both were fought to the death, both have dissolved into legend, leaving scant evidence that they ever took place. But the evidence that does exist, leans strongly towards supporting unwritten history that these two battles were real enough and very fierce. Alfred was a warrior scholar. His older siblings who should have become king, all died young, leaving a youthful Alfred to assume the throne, when Viking power was in the ascendant. It was a tough introduction to leadership for the young royal. The Vikings were fierce fighters, ambitious colonists and shrewd tacticians. Alfred fought these intrepid foes in eight separate battles. It was after one of these that he took refuge in a house run by an old woman. A defeated Alfred was in fact disguised and on the run. He was soundly berated by the old lady for burning her cakes as the King plotted his comeback. Several villages have claimed they were the site of this famous scene, albeit non recorded moment in history. The tale appeals to the English sense of fun. A busy and crabby old woman scolding and berating a king, not knowing who she was yelling at. But does it have more significance than at first appears? One village that claims Alfred burned the cakes there, is Alfriston, another ancient settlement only about eleven miles from Halland. The name given to the actual battlefield where Alfred took on the Vikings is called Terrible Down. The verbal reports of this fight say that the slaughter was so horrific that the streams ran red with the blood of the slain.
King Alfred statue erected in 1899 in Winchester; Far left: Alfriston
Now I’m no historian, as critics of my tall tales in this magazine hasten to point out. But I’m also not a fake news aficionado, so seeing little pointers and drawing inconclusive conclusions, is often my trademark. Alfred had a good win record against the Vikings. But history does suggest that he lost the odd encounter. If he was retreating from a defeat when burning the cakes at Alfriston, then the Halland encounter might well have been one of those rare instances. The name Terrible Down seems to indicate a negative outcome of the battle for the Saxons. Fierce it might have been, but did the moniker mean that Alfred lost this one, hence the name? The Saxon name for Halland of Ancient Slaughter, along with some archaeological evidence is firm enough. Some huge battle took place here. The historic mark of Alfred as a great King was that he was also a scholar, translating documents from Latin to English, collecting a library and developing teaching institutions. His biggest literary work was the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a sort of annual report from the time of the Roman departure until the advent of the Norman Conquest. So why no mention of this battle in official records? Perhaps, as with the French sacking of Lewes in the 100 Years War, there is no English reference because Alfred lost. The defeated rarely talk about their losses and record mostly only triumphs. These tales generally come from the victor. No original Anglo-Saxon Chronicle exists, only rewrites mostly 24 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
edited by monks. Scholars recognise that this tome, while an extremely important document, was altered considerably, so parts were erased, and other inaccuracies found their way into its pages. So its quite possible, even likely that Terrible Down was ignored for political reasons. Perhaps Alfred’s musings as he let the cakes burn in Alfriston, were along the lines of, “Better forget this one, chaps. We’ll draw up a new team sheet for tomorrow.” Incursions by the Vikings lasted for almost three centuries. Over this period, in England, at least 50 pitched battles took place with numerous other raids, sieges and naval encounters. Most have been forgotten over the centuries. A description of a Viking Saxon battle tells of the “clashed shields, wielded swords, and shook greatly the spear in either hand”. When one side or the other broke and ran, they threw aside their shields and weapons in their desperation to get away; they would have slipped and fallen, trampled on the ground, drowning in mud and floundering through waterlogged bogs and fens to disaster. Almost all the lords of the home team were usually slain. There is one major flaw in this scenario. 400 years later, another slaughter took place on exactly the same spot, as retreating royalist troops were caught and slaughtered to a man by the Barons in 1264. That battle will have to wait for another time. There’s already blood spread across the newsroom floor. Hopefully, it will not mingle with mine. I hope I’ve given The Guv enough blood and guts to last for at least this issue. Yes indeed. •
Images: eGuide, Shutterstock.com
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C H ANG E D F OR TH E
B E T TE R
Time out for George at Hixon Green Lewes
George Fyffe tells Jo Rothery how becoming a vegan has transformed his life
he best thing I’ve ever done,” is how George describes his decision to give up all meat and dairy products. Little more than a year ago he weighed 21 stone 7lbs. Today he tips the scales at 15 stone 7lbs after a shock revelation that he needed to do something about his weight. A better diet and more exercise put him on the path to a leaner self, but his switch to veganism just over a month ago not only completed the transformation but also gave him a much healthier outlook on life. Thirty-seven-year-old George, a true Lewesian born and bred in the town, works as a maintenance supervisor, looking after the roofs at Gatwick and Heathrow airports. Five years ago he took up bodybuilding in a big way which led to him piling up an impressive amount of muscle. However, his busy working schedule meant that after a while he had to cut back on his hours at the gym and as a result he lost muscle tone, though he retained his bulk and 21 stone-plus weight. Standing at six foot three, he carried the weight well and was not aware that being so heavy was a problem, until he woke with a shock one night, suffering from a severe anxiety attack. “With the bodybuilding I’d put on a lot of muscle and I was quite an extensive size,” he says. “But you have to maintain muscle otherwise it can quickly turn to fat.
Kaydee and family celebrating success of half marathon
“I love my food and my beer, but because of my work, I’d more or less stopped going to the gym and my weight got out of control. Something had to be done and it came to a head one night when I woke up with an attack of anxiety. “It was surreal and really scary. I was breathless and sweating heavily, just didn’t know what was happening to me. I instantly thought I was having a heart attack. It lasted for half an hour or 45 minutes and was a real eye-opener - my mind was telling my body to calm down but that seemed to make it worse. “After that nothing similar happened for a good couple of months, but then I had another attack, the same symptoms.” George felt that being overweight could be the cause and in November 2018, he decided he’d reached the point where he had to tackle the problem and go on a diet. “Because of my experience in the gym, I knew what had to be done, the regimes and diets I needed to follow, so I took it upon myself to shed the weight.” George’s wife, Kaydee was very supportive and decided she would join him in his efforts to slim down. “It was nice to have someone with me,
‘ I love my f ood a n d my be e r, b ut be c a u se o f wo r k , I ’d m o re o f le ss st o p pe d going t o t h e g y m a n d my we ig h t got o ut o f c o n t rol .’ TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK | 27
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interview supporting what I was doing, and she has been with me right through that journey,” he says. “I had to lose a lot of weight and knew dieting alone wouldn’t be enough so I took out gym membership again and started going three or four evenings a week and at weekends when I could. I kept away from the weights and concentrated on cardio vascular. “Within three or four months I’d got down to 17 stone and last year I did dry January, which helped. “The difference losing that amount of weight made was immense and I didn’t have any more anxiety attacks. I got down to 15 stone 7lb and was very toned, but there was always that stubborn bit of weight I just couldn’t quite shift.” Kaydee meanwhile had done equally well thanks to the family’s new diet regime. She lost four-and-ahalf stone and was down to just under ten stone as well as feeling much fitter and healthier. “Her sister had been training to run the Brighton Half Marathon but just beforehand she suffered an ankle fracture,” George says. “She had raised quite a lot of money in sponsorship and didn’t want
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to lose that so she asked if Kaydee would take her place at just four days’ notice. “With no training at all, my wife didn’t think she could do it, but she didn’t want to let her sister or the sponsors down. In fact she ran it in an incredible one hour 58 minutes - a lot of people who had been training for months couldn’t get anything like under two hours. “She has come a long way with me on my journey to losing weight, taking on the whole new lifestyle. We’ve done that journey together and our whole lifestyle changed dramatically. “We have four children - 16-year-old George, Ruby who is 13, Ollie, 9 and Joseph, 8. As a family we cut down on sugar and bread and just generally ate a much healthier diet.” George did Dry January again this year and not long after came his decision to become a vegan. “I’m someone who likes to change myself at times, always looking for the next thing to change and setting myself goals. I was watching the TV programme Gamechangers, about vegan athletes, when I decided to go a step further and told my wife I was going to go vegan in February. She laughed but I was determined to do it. “It’s been five weeks now and I have no desire whatsoever to go back to meat or dairy.” It was a massive change for George, who had always been a great meat eater. “I used to eat nine or ten eggs a day, boiled or poached. And I loved steaks, chicken kebabs, lamb. But giving them up has been surprisingly easy, I’d expected it to be much harder. “I find preparation is the key. On a Sunday I prepare things for lunches all through the week ahead. It’s also a help that you can now find a good range of plant-based products in the supermarkets, with some aisles devoted just to vegetarian or vegan items. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by that, the only thing that disappoints me is that the shops slap higher prices on these products which are good for you. Our shopping bill has definitely gone up.”
‘ I h a d t o lose a lot o f we ig h t a n d k n ew d ie t ing a lo n e wo uld n’t be e n o ug h .’
Does George ever find himself tempted to go back to eating meat? “Not at all,” he insists. “I go with my friend Gary and some other lads to Kilkenny for a few days every February and this year was the first time I went as a vegan. I thought it might be difficult to be with a group who like their food and their alcohol, but it was a breeze. “I did some research before we went and discovered Guinness is vegan and so are some other drinks like Budweiser. Everywhere we went for a meal or a drink, there was a vegan alternative.” George is the only vegan in the family but he doesn’t impose it on his wife or children. “I’ve tried to persuade them to introduce it into their life, to take the best parts of it. We now don’t use cow’s milk at all, only soya or almond milk, we don’t have sugar in the house and we use a lot of products like soya and tofu. “Kaydee only has meat as a treat now and then. She loves my potato and spinach curry and my soya bean burritos have become a family favourite.”
How big a difference has becoming vegan made for George? “The difference for me has been spectacular,” he says. “I haven’t had a six pack since I was 15 but I have one now. “The most significant things are that my energy levels have soared and it’s also changed my outlook on life. My wife thinks my whole attitude is different. With four kids running around the house, I used to sometimes get stressed and a bit bad-tempered. Now that doesn’t happen, I’m much calmer. Kaydee says I’m like a completely different person. “I have quite a big presence on social media with lots of people following my journey into veganism and I get so many questions on that, asking for advice, as well as lots of support. I know of three or four people who have signed up at the gym after seeing what a dramatic change it has made to my life. Some have asked if they can go along to the gym with me. “I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It wouldn’t be right for everyone but it has literally transformed my life.” •
‘ I h ave q uit e a big p re se nc e o n soc i a l m e d i a wit h lot s o f pe o ple f ollowing my jo u r n ey in t o veg a n is m .’ 30 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
Images: © Town & County magazine
George’s weekly shop
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BY RICHARD HEDGES
FOOD FOR THOUGHT Dear Readers...
ust a little bit about me …I’m a proud Yorkshireman who loves his food and now living in Lewes. I’ve two passions in life, these are country living and all things surrounding food and drink. I never forget how grateful I’ve been to have a 20 year career working in food that’s been absolutely delicious… Well, most of the time! I’m a passionate foodie and love everything that goes with it from discovering new flavour combinations whilst perusing foodie markets & pop-ups or cooking with weird and wonderful ingredients at home for family & friends. It’s great to be the new food writer at Town & County and I hope that you enjoy our foodie journey together over the coming months as much as I will ! Finally, I hope you all have a Happy Easter or ‘Joyeuses Pâques’ as they say in Blois, (Lewes is twinned with the small French town Blois, read on for more Blois news)!
Veg in the spotlight: Beetroot (Beta Vulgaris) I adore beetroot and even though it’s not strictly in season, I’ve been stocking up on beetroot this month from the Lewes high street markets and if you’re an avid ‘pickler’ as I am, I can recommend a Spicey coriander seed recipe which allows you to enjoy Beetroot all year round! (foodie@ townandcountymag.co.uk.) Alternatively you could boil, peel and blitz
My Easter pick for 2020 Is it a freshly picked lemon or is it … An Easter Egg? Yes you’ve got this one right it’s an Easter egg! Looking like a lemon this lemon zest flavoured chocolate, complete with a green chocolate leaf costs £3 and is a welcome replacement for the more conventional
the beetroot in a blender with chick peas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice (cumin seeds - optional) and seasoning to give you a bright red nutritious beetroot hummus. Did you know that Beetroot is a great source of fibre, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. • Folate. A B vitamin, important for normal tissue growth and cell function. • Manganese. An essential trace element, manganese is found in high amounts in whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. • Potassium. A diet high in potassium can lead to reduced blood pressure levels and positive effects on heart • Iron. An essential mineral, iron has many important functions in your body. It’s necessary for the transport of oxygen in red blood cells. • Vitamin C. This well-known vitamin is an antioxidant that is important for immune function and skin health. TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK | 33
Innovation from Bill’s Café CBD Latte Most of you will be aware of the recent changes in the law around the use of CBD in food, beverage and pharmaceutical products lately. Bill’s has utilised this and has become one of the first restaurant brands in the UK to launch their own CBD lattes. Their flavours are CBD Golden Latte with turmeric, agave, ginger root, cinnamon & coconut milk and a second CBD Latte Espresso with oat milk & agave.
Pretend the internet does not exist.. Time for a bit of fun, can you identify this vegetable and where does it grow? There is no prize for this except for bragging rights to your friends and family or if you bump into me on the streets of Lewes! The answer will be given in next months issue of Town & County – Good luck!
International Restaurant news The Michelin Guide launched a new sustainability symbol, all restaurants which have been awarded the symbol in the 2020 French guide have shown ‘commendable environmental practises’. Restaurants in the new Sustainable Gastronomy section are marked with a green icon and feature a quote from their chef on its restaurant page. 34 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
Eating Local Pestle & Mortar If South East Asian cuisines take your fancy then pop down to Pestle & Mortar in Lewes. Ed and Honey the owners are warm and welcoming, Honey is also the amazing house chef. If noodles are your thing, their clear Asian broth is delicious, with a protein of your choice and an array of extra seasonings and spices to suit everyone’s palate. They also retail Asian groceries allowing customers to buy ingredients that have been used in their dishes – Perfect for any aspiring Asian chef! Honey also makes delicious cakes such as her Chocolate & Raspberry muffins – Yummy!
Foodie news from Lewes’s Twinned Town of Blois in France Did you know there are four Michelin starred restaurants in Lewes’s twinned town of Blois? Unfortunately none of the four have been awarded the new Michelin sustainability symbol to date but watch this space for more exciting reports on these restaurants.
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Because every life is unique
S E A SO N A LLY DE LIC I O U S The recipes I’ve chosen for this month are from The ‘Higgidy’ cook books. The recipes are easy to understand with great food photography. By Richard Hedges SPRING VEG WITH ROASTED FETA SERVES: 4 Every now and then I make a culinary discovery and it’s everything I could wish for all at once. One such revelation is roasted feta, so promise me you’ll try this recipe. Equipment: 3 large shallow roasting tins Ingredients: • 1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges • 250g asparagus spears, woody ends snapped off (see tip) • 150g mangetout • 150g small green peppers (padron peppers work well) • 150g radishes • 400g can artichoke hearts, drained and halved • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 8 wedges • 1 small bunch of spring onions, trimmed • 1 lemon, halved • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling • 1 tablespoon pul biber (Turkish dried chilli flakes), or 1½ teaspoons dried chilli flakes • 200g feta cheese • 400g can butter beans or cannellini beans, drained • 1 teaspoon za’atar • Salt and freshly ground black pepper For the dressing: • 1 bunch of mixed soft herbs (I like mint, flat leaf parsley and dill), leaves picked • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar • 2 teaspoons clear honey
Method 1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/Gas Mark 7. 2. Divide all the vegetables between 2 large shallow roasting tins. Place a lemon half in the centre of each tin and drizzle enough olive oil over the vegetables to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper and sprinkle the chilli flakes evenly over the vegetables. 3. Place the feta in the centre of a separate shallow roasting tin and tumble the butter or cannellini beans around the cheese. Sprinkle over the za’atar and drizzle over some olive oil. 4. Place the vegetable tins on the
36 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
top 2 shelves of the oven with the feta and beans underneath. Roast for 30 minutes until everything is softened and catching in places, turning the vegetables twice during this time. 5. While the vegetables are roasting, prepare dressing. Finely chop the herb leaves, then whisk with the oil, vinegar and honey 6. Remove the tins from the oven and leave all the ingredients to cool for 5 minutes before squeezing over the juice from the roasted lemon halves – use tongs to hold them and squeeze the juice out with a fork. 7. Arrange the roasted vegetables on a platter, break the roasted feta over the top. Scatter over the beans, which should have popped and crisped up in the oven, then drizzle the dressing over.
recipes • 100g or 4 large banana shallots, peeled and quartered • 350ml chicken stock • 200g ham hock, pulled or shredded into finger-length pieces • 250g mascarpone For the mash: SERVES: 4-6 • 1 tbsp olive oil Not only is this pie quick to throw • 25g butter together, it’s gluten free, too. If • 2 garlic cloves, crushed you don’t have butterbeans, you • 75g curly kale can use any white bean such as • 2 x 400g tins of butterbeans cannellini or gigante. • Zest and juice of 1 lemon Equipment: 1 x 2-litre ceramic • Salt and freshly ground black ovenproof dish pepper
CHICKEN AND HAM HOCK PIE WITH GARLICKY BUTTERBEAN AND K ALE MASH
For the filling: • 2-3 tbsp chickpea flour • 2 tsp mustard powder • 1 tsp cayenne pepper • 500g chicken thighs • 2 tbsp olive oil
Method 1. Preheat your oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/gas mark 6. 2. Start off by combining the chickpea flour, mustard powder and cayenne in a large bowl. Then
slice the chicken thighs into large bite-sized chunks and toss them in the flour mixture. 3. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large, shallow casserole or a large frying pan. Over a medium heat, fry the shallots for 3-4 minutes or until they have just begun to caramelise. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add a further tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and, over a high heat, fry the chicken for 2-3 minutes before turning the pieces over and cooking for 2-3 minutes more. The chicken should be nice and golden. 4. Lower the heat slightly, return the shallots to the pan, add the hot chicken stock and give the mixture a good stir. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 6-7 minutes.You may need to stir the sauce halfway through to stop the mixture ‘catching’ on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat, stir in the ham and 100g of the mascarpone (saving 150g for the mash). Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, tip into an ovenproof dish. 5. To make the mash: heat the oil and butter in a nonstick pan until sizzling. Add the garlic, kale and 50ml of water.Turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 8 minutes or until the kale has wilted and is tender. Meanwhile, drain the beans and rinse well under the tap.Then, with a fork or potato masher, squish the beans to a nobbly mush. Stir the beans into the kale and garlic mixture, add the zest and juice of the lemon and remaining mascarpone cheese. Season with salt and black pepper. 6. Spoon the mash over the chicken pie filling and cook for 25-30 minutes in your preheated oven. Serve piping hot. TOWNANDCOUNTY | 37
As Rhubarb is coming into season try this roasted rhubarb recipe, you’ll never look back! ROASTED RHUBARB SERVES 6–8 Realizing you have a batch of roasted rhubarb squirrelled away at the back of the fridge is a most comforting thought. Not only is it super-handy for impromptu puds with the addition of custard, whipped cream or ice cream, it will take your breakfasts up a notch too, served with a dollop or two of thick Greek yogurt and a generous sprinkling of crunchy granola. Ingredients: • 1kg rhubarb, forced if available (see tip) • 100g caster sugar • Juice of ½ lemon Flavour boosters (optional): • Rind of ½ unwaxed orange, pared in strips • Rind of ½ unwaxed lemon, pared in strips • 1cm piece of stem ginger, finely chopped • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways • 2 teaspoons orange blossom water • A few sprigs of thyme • 2 tablespoons clear honey (use 30g less sugar) • 6 cardamom pods • 1 cinnamon stick
Method 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas Mark 6. 2. Rinse the rhubarb stalks and shake off any excess water, then cut them into 3cm pieces. Toss
in a large shallow roasting tin with the sugar and lemon juice to coat each piece evenly with sugar. Mix through any optional flavour boosters before covering the tin tightly with foil. Roast on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 minutes. 3. Remove from the oven and lift away the foil. By now the sugar should have melted. Roast the rhubarb, uncovered, for a final 15 minutes until it’s completely soft but still holds its shape. 4. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Transfer the rhubarb with all its syrup to a bowl or other container, cover and store in the fridge for up to a week.
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TIP forced rhubarb is usually available from winter to early spring, although some supermarkets have started to stock it throughout the year. do try and get hold of it if you can; its brilliant jewellike pink colour looks almost unnatural, but it’s a pure pleasure to cook with.
The Higgidy Cookbook by Camilla Stephens Hardback £16 amazon.co.uk
likE drinking your firsT day of Holiday Tequila evangelist Cleo Rocos created AquaRiva® Premium Tequila and Organic Agave Syrup in 2011 after working with a Master Blender in Mexico for 10 months. Being featured in the Virgin Atlantic inaugural flight to Mexico in 2012 with Richard Branson, we are proud that AquaRiva® is now available in Virgin Clubhouses. AquaRiva® Tequila is a double gold medal winner in the UK and voted ‘Best of the Best’ in the USA. Available in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, on-line; DrinkUpNY, thedrinkshop.com, Amazon and in clubs and bars nationwide.
THE PErfEcT MargariTa rEciPE:
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25 mls fresh squeezed lime juice (juice of one lime)
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Shake with plenty of ice and serve in a rocks glass with more ice. Garnish with an orange zest.
C H E E RS FOR BEV
A remarkable landlady tells Jo Rothery that running a pub isn’t just a job, for her it’s a way of life
Bev working in her pub
ev Stedman has seen a lot of ups and downs over the 40 years she has worked in the pub trade, but she still has a broad smile on her face when she talks about how much she loves her work. Some of the incidents she has encountered in the past would have been enough to deter many people from being behind a busy bar. Not Bev, though. Despite having suffered PTSD after one of the more unpleasant experiences, she has risen to every challenge and come through them with an even stronger commitment to the career she chose as a youngster. Now the popular landlady of the John Harvey Tavern in Lewes, life is a lot quieter than in some of the establishments she has managed. But her inimitable no-nonsense style remains the same friendly and caring but firm. As unflappable as ever, she ensures her customers always receive a friendly welcome and feel safe and relaxed, a great draw to the many loyal regulars who now enjoy a leisurely drink at the traditional pub in Bear Yard on Cliffe High Street which she took over in 2018. Bev’s life behind the bar was mapped out for her from the tender age of just 14. “I idolised my mum, who had always worked in pubs,” she says. “When I was 14 she let me help at a big function, walking round collecting glasses and talking to people. I loved it, thought what a buzz. “I’d never been in a pub environment before - in those days children used to get left outside with a bag of crisps and a lemonade. Helping out at that function made me feel so grown-up - I got lots of attention which I loved. It was in a safe environment and I absolutely adored it. “I couldn’t wait until I was 18 and could get a part-time job in a pub - it was like going out for an evening but without having to spend any money.” Bev married in 1994 and after her daughter was born, continued to work part-time in several pubs as well as becoming a cash collector, driving around
and picking up the money from fruit machines installed in pubs. Among those she visited to collect money was the Prince of Wales in Hampton Court and one day the manager there asked if she would like a job as assistant manager. She declined, saying she had a mortgage and a young daughter, so she couldn’t afford to take a job with lower pay. The landlord persuaded her by saying she could live at the pub and rent out her house to make it affordable for her to take the job, so in 1999, she moved in and took up her new role. “I absolutely loved it, but in 2000 the manager decided to leave and I was asked to consider taking over. It was a very busy pub and with a small child I felt it was too much for me to take on. The brewery, Greene King, also thought it was too big a place to be the first pub I managed.” The brewery offered Bev a smaller pub in the area, but it was quite a challenge for someone making her debut as a manager. “It was horrific,” she says. “When I went there the first time, the first thing I noticed through the window was a pool table. The pub was close to a Marks and Spencer store but as women walked past to the shop, a bunch of men hanging around beside the pool table didn’t encourage them to want TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK | 41
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interview to come in. And as I walked in to look round, some guy pinched my bottom. But I decided to take it on. I had the pool table taken out, put flowers on the tables, and turned the place around. I won the prestigious award of Best Development Pub, awarded by Greene King Brewery.” Two years later, with that success under her belt, Bev was offered another, larger pub which was going to undergo a major £400k refurbishment and again she made a great success of it. As a result, she was given the chance to take the helm at The Argyl in Henley. “That was fantastic, by then my daughter was eight years old, it was a beautiful part of the world and the pub was right on the market place. There was the regatta coming along, and it was terribly popular every day of week. “Sadly it turned out to be a bit of a bad time for me as a male customer started stalking me, so much that eventually the police were called in.. There was also a problem with a lot of drugs. I’d seen deals going on and got the police involved and they were watching the pub which made me some enemies. “It was the first day of summer holidays and my daughter popped across the road to Woolworths, came back and later that day someone called the pub, using a word muffler and stated not once but many times during that day they had seen her walk across the market place and the final time they said my daughter’s names and that’s when I called it a day. “Someone threatened to kill my daughter, said her name and that they would see her when she was out and about. I decided that was the final straw, packed my bags straight away and left, vowing I would never run a pub again. “I rang the company I used to work for as a cash collector and got a job with them, rented a little flat and was adamant about never going back to the pub trade.” The temptation of returning to a way of life she loved proved too much, however, as Bev’s 40th birthday approached. “In 2004 Mark, the manager at the Prince of Wales asked me if I’d like to go back as assistant manager, telling me I was a natural. I agreed to do just one shift for him and as I walked behind the bar, I felt a shiver, almost like a bolt of electricity, it was like coming home. People I’d known before were coming in and saying ‘Bev’s back!’ I had a smile back on my face. “I was still feeling I never wanted to run a pub again but I agreed to do two days and the manager
told me ‘you have to work here’. He asked would I hold the fort for him for a few days while he went away - he never came back. Sadly, Mark suffered a dreadful fall of a ladder, had a brain haemorrhage and didn’t return. After Mark’s accident I was asked to take it on and that led to a wonderful spell for me. “I made it the best pub in the town, doing really well, put on Hampton Court Flower Show specials and we won lots of awards - I even won a trip to Cuba as a reward. But then the smoking ban came in and I knew it was going to hit that pub badly. I was really worried about it and felt that I didn’t want to be there if the pub started to go downhill. It was a bittersweet time as I’d put so much into it, but I decided to leave.” Bev moved to another inn, thinking it could be make or break time over whether she continued to be a landlady. There she again successfully tackled a drugs issue but a much more unpleasant situation arose. “The barman, who had worked there for about 35 years, lived in at the pub. He was a heavy drinker and just before Christmas he fell down in his room and was badly injured - he had to have one arm amputated. “Although it wasn’t my fault in any way, some of the regulars blamed me and one of them spat at me. I’d put a lot of time and effort in and thought the pub was really going places, but they didn’t want me there.” Bev returned to one of her former pubs but it was there she experienced the most traumatic experience of all. “Something horrific happened when a man who was very drunk was refused service,” she recalls with a shudder. “He attacked some of my regulars, TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK | 43
Bev in the beer garden
I got him on the floor with his arm behind his back. He got a glass, broke it and tried to stab me in the neck. Then he went outside and stabbed two men, one of them was in hospital for nearly a month because of his injuries. “It was a horrible experience and I was sick as a dog at the time, had to scrape blood off the walls outside. I thought I was okay afterwards but we were doing a champagne breakfast on the day William and Kate got married. I was in the kitchen when someone came in and asked if he could have his eggs done a certain way. I just lost it, threw pans around, I was in a dreadful state. “It turned out I had PTSD, something I’d never even heard of before, and I had to go for counselling and was signed off sick for four months. It was a horrific time and I knew I didn’t want to stay at that pub. I’m absolutely fine now but it was a very bad time for me.” “During that time my parents had upped sticks and moved to Selsey and bought a leasehold pub called The Fisherman’s Joy. After a shocking fire destroyed the pub we had a blank canvas to refurb in November ready for launch in December 2011. “After successfully launching and with the pub running well, I felt it was time to spread wings and we moved to quirky pub in Southwater, The Lintot, where I was very happy but by then my daughter was 18 and found West Sussex too quiet for her and too far from her friends. She wanted to return to Surrey.” So Bev moved to a pub in Ashstead where again she worked her magic as a manager and made it a 44 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
massive success. She had been there for five years when she had a phone call from a landlady in East Grinstead, saying a great little pub in Lewes was coming up, with a cottage to live in, and she thought it could be just the right place for Bev. That proved to be the case, and in 2018 Bev came to Lewes and took over the John Harvey Tavern. “I wanted something I could really get stuck into again but at the same time slow down just a little bit,” she says. “This pub is perfect for me, a proper traditional ‘boozer’ with lots of character. I love Lewes and I love the customers who come here I’ve always been a people person and it’s the people who make a pub. “I’ve gone through a lot of things that could have put me off running a pub - I think a lot of people would never have gone back to it. But it’s made me what I am and I love the trade, every bit of it, from the rubbish jobs to the really good times. It isn’t a job, it’s a life.” “I’ve been part of people’s lives, I have a front row seat to their lives, though the highs from wonderful wedding receptions, to christenings to funerals. I am well known in the trade to some as Auntie Bev, what a privilege that is. “Nothing is more important to me than greeting people with a smile, after all we never know what is going on in their lives and it’s so important that not just me but also the staff have a warm smile and an open ear and a shoulder if needed. In the words of Caroline Flack, #BeKind it costs nothing.” •
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S E A SON E D TO TA STE
ore and more people who live, work or shop in Lewes are discovering the delights of the very best organic food, drawn like a magnet to The Seasons, that fantastic organic wholefoods store on Cliffe High Street. The shop opened in October last year and quickly established itself as THE place to go for a fantastic range of carefully selected products and the wealth of knowledge about how best to use them, in a warm and welcoming environment. As well as attracting vegetarians and vegans, it appeals to a diverse clientele who want to enjoy top-class healthy food. Owner Robin Walden ensures that it reflects the well-established philosophy of the original Seasons store in Forest Row, founded many years ago by a local Quaker, Diana Phillips, who recognised a real need in the community for healthy, organic foods. Robin’s father, John, became a director of the
Forest Row shop and from the age of two, Robin grew up with a real awareness of the importance of a proper diet. This deep-rooted commitment remains just as strong and is reinforced by his appointment of a new manager, Portia, at the Lewes store who shares the same beliefs and took up the post there at the beginning of March. “We were cautious about choosing the right person for such an important role,” says Robin. “Portia has worked with us for seven or eight years at the Forest Row shop, so she knows the business very well and understands our ethos. She is the perfect fit for the job. “She will be handling the day-to-day running of the shop in Lewes, and her product knowledge is already first-rate and growing all the time. We constantly try to bring in new products that can’t be bought elsewhere. “Portia is someone who understands that we want The Seasons to be part of the community,
just as it is in Forest Row. We have people coming into the shop all the time with questions, and it gives them confidence when there’s someone there who can answer them straight away. “Customers appreciate that they can get all the information they need on products they might not be familiar with - Portia is happy to spend time advising them and making suggestions on how to use and prepare the items we stock. That gives people confidence in what they’re buying or trying for the first time. “We like our shops to be a social hub where people can come in and have a chat with likeminded customers and staff, talking about the products, perhaps sharing recipes and getting all the information or advice they need.” Robin says the Lewes shop is getting busier and busier week after week with a large number of regular customers thanks to the fact that the town has many residents who are both eager to follow a healthy diet and are also concerned about the environment. “We have an excellent cross-section of customers - children come in every day after school to get some of our healthy sweets and treats. A lot of parents who want their family to eat well and healthily come here, as well as business people and more mature shoppers. “There’s a considerable focus on plasticfree in Lewes so we have over 110 products in dispensers so that people can fill up their containers from them. We can dispense
everything from pulses, rice, oats, nuts and seeds to coffee and salt. “The newest addition is nutritional yeast flakes which are very important if you are following a plant-based diet as they contain the B12 vitamin. “Dispensers are also very popular as customers can buy just a small amount of something they want to try, or only want a small amount for a particular recipe. “We’re passionate about being organic but appreciate that not everyone can be organic, and we would never try to push them into it. But we do believe that every little helps and that no-one should be daunted from trying something new. “We believe strongly in biodiversity and offering customers the very best quality and ethically-sourced items that don’t cost the earth. We work only with like-minded suppliers - our two main ones are both workers’ co-operatives. We check virtually every product ourselves and don’t buy from big multi-nationals.”
Tel: 01273 359 200 the Seasons 16-17 Cliffe High Street, Lewes, BN7 2AH seasonsforestrow.co.uk
DE S TI N E D TO
Nigel Philips tells Jo Rothery how creating beautiful gardens became an unexpected and awardwinning lifelong career
t just sort of happened,” said Nigel when I asked him why he had chosen to go into garden design. “I was pushed into it by an employer for whom I’d been doing some casual work in his nursery. He suggested I should go and study horticulture so I went to Merriot Wood College and did a course on landscape construction,” he says. “The last half of the last term of the course was about design.When it came to them teaching design, that just suddenly clicked with me and as soon as I left college, I knew I wanted to start my own business.” Nigel’s career in the garden design and landscaping business got off to a flying start in 1981. “While I was still at college, the third year students designed a garden to be built by the students in the second year that I was in then. “Next year, when I was in my third and final year, the students in the year below built the roof garden I designed. It won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show, the top award you can get there. “At the show, it was fascinating to stand and listen to people who were looking at my garden. I’d put a chimney pot in and I heard one lady talking who was absolutely absorbed in the garden and thought the chimney was real. “That was a great way to start my garden design career and after freelancing for a while, I set up my own business.” More success was to follow. A couple of years later Nigel designed another garden for the Chelsea Flower Show, built by a constructor, and it won silver-gilt. “It ticked all the boxes for the judges, especially sustainability as we weren’t sponsored but managed to sell on the garden to a client.” His Nigel Philips Landscape and Garden Design business blossomed further from 1985 onwards and at that stage he focused on a large number of projects he both designed and was responsible for the construction.
“I think I got into garden design before it was fashionable, until it came to television in the mid-1980s and more and more people became interested,” he says. “That was fine until the recession hit in 1991 and people didn’t have the money for big designs. That’s when I decided to restrict myself to designonly and got into education. “After I did a talk at Plumpton College, the head of horticulture there asked me to lecture on the City and Guilds design course. I found that really useful, I could use the designs I had created in real life as a tool for teaching.” Nigel also helped to establish the educational element at the lovely Denmans Gardens near Arundel and he is a Fellow of the Society of Garden Designers, the only professional association for garden designers in the UK and a designer member of BALI, the British Association of Landscape Industries. He has lectured at the Royal Horticultural Society and given talks at the Hampton Court Flower Show, for the Countryside Living Association, and House and Garden Show, as well as a number of local horticultural societies.
TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK | 49
interview The next step for Nigel was a novel idea that sowed the seeds for a pioneering concept which now enables owners of ‘average’ gardens to have the garden of their dreams designed for them by an expert at an affordable cost. “The business, with its 1-2-1 project, is the culmination of all my years in garden design,” he explains. “You can do some amazing work for people who have lots of land and lots of money and many students start up their own business, as I did, but they’re always chasing the big jobs. “I feel that many people with more modest gardens get left behind and I believe my design skills can serve those people just as well. I put together an easily-understood package that can help them make a rational decision, a modular way of looking at it. “It’s made up of four units, two of which are the core design. Clients can choose to use just the first two if they have a relatively small space and are savvy enough to do the measuring-up themselves and are happy to do the detailing.” The process starts with Nigel visiting a client and hearing about the wish list for their garden. “The design for your garden is completed on the day I come to visit,” he says. “I will talk to you about what it is you wish to get from your garden and then we’ll design it together. ”Once we’re happy with the concept I will draw it up on a piece of paper for you to be able to use. That is the core design and then you can choose whether or not to use the other two modules for measuring-up and detailing. Each module is priced to be affordable, so you know beforehand precisely what the cost to you will be.” Nigel is certain that having the garden they long for can make a huge difference to people’s lives. “I think a lot of people are living with a garden they’re not entirely happy with, in fact some of them might have been putting up with a disappointing garden for as long as 20 years, but the thought of redesigning it can be quite scary. They don’t know where to start and they think it might be too expensive. “They’re at an impasse, but a fresh pair of eyes can come up with a creative but practical design that can be life-changing. The garden is an extension of your living space, but it is often a neglected space. The possibility of opening it up so that it’s both 50 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
beautiful and useful is really exciting and can add a new dimension to their home. The garden becomes somewhere to include in their every-day life. “Every garden I design with a client is completely individual, whether it’s for a single person, a couple, a family with children, their kind of lifestyle, a very small space or a more extensive area. The day spent discussing it with them can release all the pent-up frustration they might have been feeling over not knowing what to do with it and by showing them how all the various elements can be rearranged and their ideas incorporated, organising how to use the space in the best way, it builds up a real momentum and can be great fun. “It fires up their imagination and they know they will get what they want and the design is affordable - everyone wants good value for money. The design is the core element and that’s the skilled bit of the whole piece of work. When I visit them, I have to get on their wavelength to come up with the right design for them.” Nigel’s passion for garden design is evident in every project he tackles, large or small, and he has built up a long list of delighted clients across Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, London and further afield. How lucky that the nurseryman he worked for almost 40 years ago steered him towards the right garden path! •
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A B LOO M I N G GOO D S H OW Jane Sterck tells Jo Rothery about the superb spring event at Firle which makes a fantastic day out for all the family
happy day, happy shopping and happy planting are at the heart of the annual Garden Show at Firle Place, now in its 13th year at this beautiful venue. The family-friendly three-day event brings together a hugely talented band of growers, speakers, artisans, exhibitors and stallholders, offering a stunning array of art and design as well as everything the keen gardener could wish for. It also ensures that the hundreds of visitors who flock to Firle each year enjoy a wonderful time spent in a beautiful place. It’s a philosophy which has stood the test of time since it was originally launched by Jane Sterck and Lizzie Dymock 25 years ago at Stansted Park as a forum for smaller businesses to display and sell their wares. Sadly Lizzie passed away in 2015 but in many ways the Firle show, and others organised by Jane and her daughter Emily, are a lasting legacy to someone who did so much to help create a very special event which not only holds an important place on local gardeners’ calendars but for those
who want a colourful and lively family day out. “We continue to follow the ethos and principles which Lizzie and I began the show with supporting the smaller business, growers and nurseries as well as giving good space to artisan work and supporting specific charities at each show plus many others who take pitches to promote and fundraise,” says Jane. “This would not be possible without the amazingly creative, talented and fun people who make up the great team of growers, speakers, exhibitors and stallholders. They are without a doubt the essence of the event and we are forever grateful to them for their enterprise and flare, without them the show wouldn’t exist. “That ethos is still maintained as Lizzie would have wanted and now my lovely daughter, Emily believes in it too. Lizzie trained up Emily in the design and marketing world and so the legacy continues with her and I in partnership - I am very lucky to work with my daughter.” This year’s Firle Garden Show has been moved to 16-18 October 2020, perfect timing for the gardening community as they can take their pick from a huge selection of healthy, bright, vigorous and very special plants to take home and enjoy, brought along by experienced and knowledgeable TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK | 53
gardening growers and plants people. “They understand plants so well and are always happy to offer a wealth of advice and share their knowledge, offering invaluable tips and guiding your choice to plants which are right for your particular garden,” says Jane. “Spring is the ideal time of year to get new plants into the ground so that they will be well-established and provide a riot of colour come summertime or a wealth of fresh vegetables. “We’re very excited that next year we’re adding a fourth show, a new Autumn Garden Show, on October 1-3, 2021 at the Broadlands Estate, Romsey, home of the Mountbatten family. Autumn is also a good time for planting so they establish good roots for the year ahead.” Jane is delighted that many growers take part at the Firle show year after year, like Richard Flint of East Ashling Nursery who supported it from the very beginning. Now Lisa, who learnt the trade from him, is bringing alpines from her own nursery to the Firle event. “Being a grower is a hard business, a long slog during the winter and then bringing their plants to a show like this, but I would love to see more young people getting involved,” says Jane. “That’s why I am so keen on the local charity we are specifically supporting at the Firle event, Hands of Hope. Based in Peasmarsh, it works in and for the local community with two main aims - to tackle social isolation in the elderly (loneliness) and childhood obesity, through the production of locally-grown organic food. “Many of the growers who come to our shows have been with us for years and we do have concerns, as they retire, that there is a shortage of new nurseries. It’s a tough job, but how rewarding and also how very necessary to grow as much as we can. We’re trying to spread the word and encourage people to take up the challenge and make a career in the world of plants, and help keep this land great and pleasant.” The ‘gardening doctors’, Steve and Val Bradley will also be on hand at Firle to give plenty of free advice. “The show has expanded and blossomed over the years but keeping it fresh and vibrant has always been part of the remit, welcoming new companies which all fit in very well within the varied elements that make up the show,” says Jane. “But as always, we are delighted to have ‘old’ friends returning - both exhibitors and visitors, providing continuity to the event.” 54 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
Another major attraction at the show is the multi-talented band of artisan stallholders. “I am always in awe of the crafts people who work so hard to produce beautiful and unique items,” says Lizzie. “We have everything from a wonderful wildlife photographer who focuses on British wildlife, to ceramics and pet portraits. New this year are incredible sculptures made out of cuttlefish. “Also new this year is a studio shop where craftspeople will be making their wares and giving demonstrations. The idea is to encourage young people in particular to understand the hard work that goes into designing and making something original, as well as giving visitors the chance to buy something unique for their home or garden. “We make sure the show is very family-friendly with lots of activities for children. There’s an oldfashioned fun fair, face painting and even a juggler who will teach youngsters how to juggle. “Firle is a wonderful place to hold a show, the village is quite unique, evocative of a typical English village. It’s also very artisan-led as Lord Gage at Firle Place is very keen to let houses to people who work locally. It’s an incredible local community we feel very proud to be part of. “Charity is part of the show and the village church holds a flower festival during the show. The vicar, Peter Owen-Jones also organises a pirate treasure hunt.” Other charities which will be taking part at Firle are the Woodland Trust, Guide Dogs, Sussex Wildlife Trust, the National Gardens Scheme, Plantlife, WWF and Chestnut Tree House. “The show grows and evolves every year and we really appreciate the encouragement and support from all the wonderful visitors,” says Jane. “We thank them and the marvellous exhibitors who are without a doubt the essence of our event and we are forever grateful to them for their enterprise and flare, helping us make the show what it is.” •
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DRU N K IN CHARG E To cover her tracks she sent packet of sweets laced with strychnine to several acquaintances Words: Keith Hayes
runk drivers are the scourge of modern highways.The courts show little mercy in the worst cases, but whipping isn’t among the present day punishments, as far as I’m aware. But two centuries and a quarter ago, whipping was a common punishment, used sometimes for drink drivers. I’ve looked into my family tree and found that although at least one of my forebears drove a BMW in the late 1700s, none were charged with drunk driving, nor were any recorded as being whipped. That’s not to say the love of a bottle or two of claret isn’t a characteristic missing from the ancestral line. Indeed I would be disappointed in the great, great grandfathers and uncles if it was. But being hauled before the judge for drunk driving, certainly doesn’t appear in the family’s recent records. The closest I came to besmirching the family name was during the ‘troubles” in Northern Ireland. Officers of the former Royal Ulster Constabulary, (the visionary Chris Patten took that name away, huh) were loath to put their heads through the window of a car door in case it was shot off. So the laws on drink driving were not as fastidiously adhered to as in other parts of the country. So it was that one evening after a particularly enjoyable dinner party, I opted to drive a guest home. No sooner had I driven a hundred yards down the Main Street of the small North Down town of Holywood, than I was stopped by an army patrol. The group of soldiers in fact were from the Ulster Defence Regiment, usually commanded by a British Army Officer. And indeed it was a young lieutenant who snapped a salute, enquired where I was going and was Prince making obvious attempts Augustus to sniff without putting his Frederick nostrils into danger. A little the worse for wear, I stammered ‘Holywood’. As we were smack in the middle of Holywood it was a less than satisfactory answer. Whereupon the young officer asked me to wait while he put my vehicle number through the computer. It so happened that because I was involved in news and crime
history programmes, I went in and out of Police HQ and army camps regularly. So I quipped ‘The computer will light up like a Christmas Tree.” He returned within minutes, snapped another salute and barked ‘Like a Christmas tree sir. On you go.” Family honour was respected. I was not to be it’s first offspring with a points deduction on my licence. No such luck for a footman in 1790 or thereabouts. He fell off his master’s carriage and lay motionless in the road near Ashcombe. Passers by looked after him until a doctor arrived and pronounced him dead drunk, but otherwise unharmed. Drunk while driving. He received a whipping for his behaviour, Oh my. It was not uncommon back then. Diarist Thomas Turner kept minutely detailed records of his trips between Lewes and East Hoathly around 1750, in which he regularly fell off his horse because he’d had too much to drink at the White Hart. The footman received a whipping, Turner got off Scot free. And indeed the lash was liberally used around then. Public beatings were administered for the slightest of crimes. Two young petty thieves were whipped in the centre of Lewes in 1792. A similar fate awaited an Uckfield man for abandoning his family. But the most notorious use of flogging was handed out by Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex. It started in Seaford and ended in Hove. The military were stationed in Seaford in 1795 but because of a failed harvest, were starving. They mutinied and raided several mills and depots to get some basic foodstuffs. The mutiny was quelled but the ringleaders were sentenced to death and their supporters to a flogging. Both sentences were carried out in Hove in front of an estimated crowd of 8000, including Henry Thomas Austen, brother of novelist Jane. Six ringleaders were flogged until doctors stepped in, fearing the men would die. Then two were executed, shot by their fellow mutineers and their bodies put on show while the entire regiment marched past to view the corpses. The country was horrified but the authorities were convinced the harsher the sentence, the less likely criminals were to reoffend. TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK | 57
history And so it was almost 100 years later when a lovelorn lady murdered dozens across the region and although sentenced to death at Lewes Assizes in 1872, escaped the noose by firstly claiming she was pregnant, then that she was mentally ill. Christiana Edmunds began some sort of affair with a neighbour around 1870. The neighbour, a married doctor claimed the relationship was no more than mild flirting. Whatever the truth of the matter, the obsessed Christiana tried to poison the good doctor’s wife. She gave her rival a box of white chocolates, which she had laced with strychnine. But she was a little parsimonious of nature and didn’t put enough poison into the candies, making the doctor’s wife ill but not fatally so. But the suspicion of her medical paramour, if that’s what he was, were aroused. To cover her tracks, Edmunds sent poisoned sweets to several acquaintances and then posted some to herself, trying to divert suspicion from the original crime. The authorities remained unconvinced that she was guilty of even attempted murder, so Edmunds carried on her evil activities.
‘ So f ro m a ge n t le c a n ing t o a m a ss m u rd e r, Lewe s h a s se e n it a ll .’
58 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
Later, her defence based on insanity made use of this extended murderous activity to claim a mental obsession with killing. Though found guilty and sentenced to death, the court determined she was indeed mentally ill and her sentence commuted to life. Edmunds might well have got away with it but one of her last victims was a four year old boy, in Brighton for a day out. Initially ruled accidental, police kept investigating until the crime of murder could be proven. How many people were poisoned is hard to say. She never showed remorse and died in Broadmoor in 1907. Mass murder has been a feature of seemingly respectable middle class citizens in the South East. Bodkin Adams, an Eastbourne doctor bumped off dozens if not hundreds of people, before being caught, despite a suspicious police force. So from a gentle caning through severe flogging to mass murder, Lewes has seen it all. I hope that lurking in the undergrowth there isn’t some lady obsessed with me, lining up at a local supermarket buying white chocolate. If she asks me for a date, I shall plead I have an allergy to chocolate. I might fall for champagne and roses. Oh my. But now I’ve put doubt into my own mind. Can you put strychnine in a bacon sarnie? •
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TU R N I N G U P TH E H E AT A stunning new fireplace has to be both beautiful and practical - and to achieve the right choice, you need expert advice
hat’s where Home Heat comes in. Owner Lee Smart set up the business with his father, Lawrence, in 1989 and over the past 30 years, hundreds of clients have welcomed the confidence that dealing with a long-established, local family business has given them. “We really care about our customers,” says Lee. “I think people regard it as very important to be dealing with a local business they know they can trust. Not only do we give them good, knowledgeable advice right from the start, we do all the installation and also give great after-sales service. “Knowing they can lift up the phone or pop
in to see us at any time gives everyone the confidence they want when they’re investing in a new fireplace or wood burner.” Home Heat remains very much a tried and trusted family affair. Lawrence has retired but Lee’s wife Patti is in charge of the showroom and handles admin, while their son-in-law is installations manager and one of their daughters also works in the business. “Working together as a family is fantastic,” says Lee. “We all have a passion for what we do and I think that shows in every aspect of the business.” The firm was established on a very sound basis 30 years ago. Lawrence was an experienced gas engineer and Lee an electrical engineer, an ideal combination for a fireplace business. “Before starting up our own business, we had dabbled in the market,” Lee recalls. “We had been sub-contracting for a fireplace company in Brighton. “The fireplace marketplace has changed enormously since our early days. When we began it was just the basic 16-inch fireplace. But now the TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK | 61
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choice is enormous and our business has grown in the same way the market has developed. “We started in Seaford and were there for five years, but then in 1994 we moved to a rural area, here in Uckfield Road, Clayhill, where we were able to have a much bigger showroom and we also got into the woodburning side. “Since then we have grown the facility over time, increasing the showroom area by 50 percent which allows us to have really impressive displays set up so that customers can see how they would look in their homes.We deal with quality fireplaces and stoves in a wide variety of styles, all from leading manufacturers. “The choice nowadays is almost unlimited, with so many different types and finishes to choose from - wood, marble, limestone. Our showroom is the place where we pride ourselves in offering customers quality products and superb value, great gas, electric and woodburning stoves and fireplace deals at excellent prices. Helping you select the right fireplace for your home and installing it professionally is what we do. “The showroom is well stocked with over 70 fireplaces, designs and stoves, as well as a plasma screen showing manufacturers’ DVDs and previous 62 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
installations, as well as a wide range of fireside accessories. Our range of products and services includes a multitude of wood and coal-burning stoves, gas and electric fires, baskets and fireplaces. We also supply and install flue liners, flue systems and gas central heating boiler systems. “Gas is getting very popular at the moment. That market has developed a lot of good products in recent years, manufacturers have really upped their game with efficient fires and better designs. “The electric market is also seeing a surge, and woodburners remain very popular. A good woodburner costs £600-£700 and installation into an existing fireplace is about £2,000. “We give customers all the information and advice they need to make the right choice, which is absolutely essential. A lot depends on their lifestyle. A lot of people like the idea of a woodburner but don’t want to be chopping up wood, especially if they have very busy lives.They prefer something where they can come in from work and press a button. “A fireplace is the focal point of a room and customers want it to look good, but they also realise they need to choose something that fits in best with their lifestyle. A standard installation ranges from about £2,000 upwards and we do others from about £10,000 up to £12,000. We do a lot of bespoke designs nowadays.” Once a customer has made their selection from the vast range on offer, one of the Home Heat team will go out and make a very comprehensive home visit, ensuring that the fireplace or woodburner chosen can be satisfactorily installed in that particular property. A firm final estimate of price, including installation, will then be given so that customers know exactly how much the completed project will cost them, with no hidden extras. “We’re passionate about our business and we listen to our customers,” says Lee. “We’re always on hand to help and guide customers to the best fireplace, stove and/or flue for their home, giving totally unbiased advice on products and the services we offer.” •
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R E TI R E M E NT CO M M U N ITI E S TH E WAY F O RWA R D
he number of retirement communities in the UK is set to soar over the next decade, according to the trade body ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators). Demand for purpose-built retirement property, combined with an already strained NHS and social care sector, means that this style of community living, very popular in Australia, New Zealand and the US, is likely to become even more commonplace here too. According to ARCO, £4billion will be invested into this development over the next 10 years to help support the rise in our ageing population. In Sussex we are already seeing the emergence of a private retirement community model which is as much about social wellbeing and good health as it is about the bricks and mortar….. Charters Village – an established community Retirement Villages Group (RVG) has been building and operating communities across the UK for 35 years. It has 16 villages, mainly across the south of the UK, including here in both East and West Sussex. Charters Village, on the leafy outskirts of East Grinstead, is now an established community, set in mature landscaped grounds.Village life revolves around the central clubhouse, Charters Towers, a beautiful building with a rich cultural history linked to the former ballet school. It is home to the village restaurant, residents’
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bar/coffee lounge, library, shop, treatment rooms, and a stunning galleried lounge. This is where village life really comes into its own – there are more than a dozen weekly interest groups and clubs running, organised and run by residents themselves.Village life is very much what residents want it to be – that means everything from the grand Christmas dinner and dance to the regular charity fundraisers and even getting their hands dirty as part of the gardening club. Charters is an award-winning village and it is not difficult to understand why. The grounds are immaculate and the warm welcome at reception is proof that not only do residents enjoy life here, so do the staff, supporting in the background. The team of staff provide a range of services including grounds and property maintenance, housekeeping, catering and administration. This means residents have as much free time as they want to enjoy life and truly maximise every day. Get in touch For anyone liking the sound of this lifestyle, there are a small handful of properties available to buy (leasehold), rent or even rent to buy, starting from £227,500. For more details tel: 01342 870871 or visit: www.chartersvillage.co.uk Charters Village is located off Felcourt Road, East Grinstead, RH19 2JR. There are one and two bedroom apartments and bungalows, including show properties currently available to view.
Gradwell Park – An emerging community While Charters Village is fully established, RVG has now jumped over the border into East Sussex and is in the throes of opening a new community in South Chailey, between Haywards Heath and Lewes. Called Gradwell Park, this community will be home to 65 private apartments and cottages, situated around a purpose-built clubhouse. Anyone keen to see what is taking shape here will not have long to wait as the first show cottage is due to open next month (April). Gradwell Park will be integrated into the wider community with local people, aged 65 or over, welcome to join the Gradwell Members’ Club. The clubhouse will be split over two levels – the ground floor will focus on hospitality while the first floor will be all about health and wellbeing with a digitally-equipped gym, as well as hair salon and beauty treatment rooms. The ground floor will have its own bar, restaurant, lounge and library. There will be a small shop. As well as a minibus, there are a number of allotments in the grounds.Very conveniently, this village is located next to the South Chailey GP surgery and so a direct path has been incorporated into the build.
RVG is quick to point out that while these communities are private, they are still very much part of the wider local community within which they sit. This will be the case at Gradwell Park which is currently undergoing a recruitment drive to find local people to take up positions at the village. Posts will be up and running this summer and the village opening its doors to welcome its first residents in early autumn. Get in touch Prices for properties here have yet to be released although RVG has said there will be a range of tenures from purchase to rental. Due to its enviable location, a number of the plots here will have views of the South Downs, forward interest is likely to be considerable and the company is already taking details from people wanting to register their interest. For more information, tel: 01342 870871 or visit: www.gradwellpark.co.uk Gradwell Park is located off Gradwell End off Mill Lane, South Chailey, BN8 4PX. Properties being built include one and two bedroom apartments, penthouses and cottages. •
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UNION MUSIC STORE’S TIMELESS CLASSICS
JOHN COLTRANE ‘A LOV E S U PR E M E ’ There are times when a greater calling interjects in the career of artists when all that has gone before has to take a back seat.The muse, wether personal, financial, or in the case of jazz legend John Coltrane, spiritual, shouts so loudly that you cannot ignore its words. Coltrane, already regarded as one of the scene’s greatest players and composers, went to the studios in 1964 and in the space of twenty four hours not only produced his masterpiece in A Love Supreme but an album that still resonates with listeners new and old and is rightly regarded as one of the greatest albums ever made. After succumbing to the vice like grip of drugs in the late 50’s, an addiction that led to the great Miles Davis firing him from his band, Coltrane began the sixties with a new found desire to devote his work to an ever-heightening sense of spiritual awakening within his personal life.That pursuit for some kind of connection to a ‘greater good’ began to shape his sound and musical direction that never really ended. By his death in 1967 Coltrane was making records that, although challenging, abstract, and damn right difficult to penetrate non the less delivered on his promise to himself. Arguably the real turning point was A Love Supreme, released on Impulse Records in 1965. With his now trustworthy and completely musically entwined quartet of musicians - the brilliant McCoy Tyner, the effervescent Jimmy Garrison and the hardcore Elvin Jones - Coltrane began recording essentially a four-part suite which one noted jazz critic described as “representing a struggle for purity, an expression of gratitude, and an acknowledgement that the musician’s talent comes from a higher power’. What is undeniable is Coltrane performance both engaging and pure, a rhythmic fluidity throughout that leaves the listener shaken, stirred, and emotively immersed. The vocal refrain on ‘A Love Supreme’ is arguably the most famous part of the album, a chant like meditation that takes the breath away. Its beautiful, mesmeric charm rings around the head long 66 | TOWNANDCOUNTYMAG.CO.UK
after the record has finished.This may be a deeply personal record for the saxophonist, one that he clearly ‘needed’ to make both as a musician and a human being, yet what makes ‘A Love Supreme’ such a timeless classic is that in all that self-healing there is a universal vision here that we can all share. Coltrane speaks here for all of us, he wants us all to feel the burdens of life eased by music and a sense of spiritual fulfillment. It’s undeniable genius lies in the very grooves, you are but a stylus trip away from musical enlightenment if you can just remove the burdens and chains of your own safety harness. Coltrane left his at the doors to the studio and never once went back to check it was there. It’s a great way to approach every one of his albums post A Love Supreme, and a great way to discover some music that at times may well have you running to the comforting arms of a trusted love one. On its release A Love Supreme garnered a wealth of praise.Alongside the ‘masterpiece of modern jazz’, ‘a landmark of post-war composition’ and ‘Coltrane’s undeniable masterpiece’ waterfall of adulation some critics went even further delving deeper into its religious connotations. Rhapsody wrote “an epic aural poem to man’s place in God’s plan.” It may seem a little far-fetching but the implication is that this is an album that breaks free from the traditional confines of the music industry machinery and purports to head to new, untapped and unrestricted universally furtive lands. Coltrane not only wants to head there but he wants to take us all with him. Rolling Store Magazine hit the nail on the head when they declared,“Aloft with his classic quartet...Coltrane soars with nothing but gratitude and joy.You can’t help but go with him!”. Still one of the biggest selling jazz records of all time A Love Supreme proves that to be adventurous, to follow that muse to the last and to pursue a musical destiny despite any doubts can really pay off. Del Day and Danny Wilson run Union Music Store in Lansdown Place www.unionmusicstore.com
Space to breathe made at Sheffield Park Visit Sheffield Park and Garden this spring Shimmering sweeps of water and vibrant spring colour - feel the excitement of the land awakening. nationaltrust.org.uk/sheffieldpark
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