I’m a jewellery designer and own SVP Jewellery, an independent West Sussex-based company. When I’m not sourcing gems, looking after my dogs or thinking about my next business move, I love to get out and about into the West Sussex countryside.
I moved from Brighton eight years ago as I wanted to get away from the city and move to the country. I chose to set up home in Hurstpierpoint, a small village that’s nestled at the bottom of the South Downs; it’s so old it’s mentioned in the Doomsday Book. The great thing about it is that there are local vineyards right on your doorstep, amazing walks, interesting local, independent shops and everyone is so friendly – it’s a very pretty place to live too. The village holds the annual St Lawrence Fair in the first week of July. It’s the oldest fair in the country with gin tents, local produce, pop up food and wine bars, bands and traditional entertainment and is always great fun.
For a very special treat, you’ll find me at Jeremy’s restaurant in Borde Hill Garden near Cuckfield. Borde Hill Garden itself is a wonderful place to visit; it has extensive grounds that are made up of woodland, parkland and formal gardens that have been designed in a series of outdoor rooms. It’s such a magical place and the perfect spot to escape it all. It puts on different events throughout the year, like sculpture exhibitions in the gardens that showcase artwork in the rambling grounds. If you like classic and vintage cars, look out for the regular meet ups here. But my favourite spot isn’t in the gardens, but in Jeremy’s restaurant. It’s in such a beautiful setting and has a lovely outdoor terrace that overlooks a walled Victorian garden. Plus, the food is fabulous, much of it local and seasonal. I can’t recommend this place highly enough.
The possibilities in West Sussex are endless. You can book a vineyard tour in the morning, visit a fabulous gastro pub for lunch, pop to Cuckfield in the afternoon to shop at the incredible independents and enjoy an outstanding dinner in the evening at restaurants like The Fig Tree in Hurstpierpoint or The Ginger Fox in Albourne. It’s the retailers and independents that give this area such charm and personality. South Down Cellars is a fine example of this. It’s a brilliant wine shop in Hurstpierpoint and Lindfield selling local wine, spirits and craft beers from the surrounding area and beyond. Lucy is the owner and she’s the oracle of alcohol. Whether you just fancy trying something new, want something special or need some advice, there is no better place to go. All price ranges are covered and it’s well worth a visit when you’re in the area.
Plus, you’ve got the South Downs, which are free and incredibly beautiful. On a clear, bright day you can walk to the top of Wolstonbury Hill in Clayton and see past Gatwick Airport and all the way to Brighton. It’s well worth the walk for the summer solstice as well and is such a special spot.