I was born in Australia but I’ve been over here for years. Working in London and married to an English girl, I’m now officially a Brit. In between training for all my running and Iron Man events, one of my fave things is having a great time outdoors, even if the good old British weather puts a kybosh on the BBQs! We’re heading down to Houghton Forest for an 8.5 mile jaunt around the South Downs. Happy times with my wife!
Houghton Forest is really popular, it’s great to see everyone out with their dogs. We start along a stretch of the Monarch’s Way. A quick web search explains this long-distance path from Worcester to Shoreham-by-Sea is meant to represent the escape route of King Charles II after his battle defeat in 1651. Of course there must be a bit of artistic licence here (I doubt he left a trail of breadcrumbs!) but I’m still constantly surprised at the rich history in every corner of this country.
The next stretch takes us across the downs towards Slindon. The views here are awesome with the sea sparkling in sunlight in the distance. We’re parched, so time for a beer and some food. The Forge, now converted into a community-run cafe and shop, serves a great lunch. The village might be quiet but it has plenty to shout about. Duck pond, old mansion, pottery, smugglers, children’s farm, birthplace of cricket (you don’t want to get an Aussie started on that one!)…it’s almost too much to take in. Our timing is perfect, it’s October and pumpkin fever is at its height in Slindon. The enormous display on Top Road is an annual thing…giving Slindon its nickname as Pumpkin Capital…and I’ve never seen so many shapes, colours and sizes of pumpkins and squashes. The guys do a great job and this year the display is all about the RNLI, nice to see the links to charity.
Recharged with the beer and lunch, we head off for the return leg to Houghton Forest, this time via Dale Park and Madehurst. After negotiating some very inquisitive dairy cattle, we are soon back at the car and ready for home. Think I’ve earned another cool beer for the homecoming.