Sleeping Policemen, Banana Skins, and Kipling – tales from my jolly….part one
I should come with a Public Health Warning!
Do not go anywhere with this woman for fear of being embarrassed – she is an accident waiting to happen!
Whilst out for a stroll enjoying the countryside and a lovely local village I came across a sign I have not seen for many years warning motorists that there was a Speed Hump across the narrow road.
It read ‘Dead Slow – Sleeping Policeman,’ warning those tempted to put their foot down along this quiet road that they would get a nasty jolt if they passed over it at speeds greater than a crawl.
In England we call these humps ‘Sleeping Policemen’. I have no idea why – I long gave up trying to fathom my own language. I can only guess that being forced to slow down by something called a ‘Sleeping Policeman,’ must force some naughty drivers to ease off the juice just in case there really is one lurking across their path.
This particular ‘Sleeping Policeman’ is situated just outside this pub. The pub dates from about 1340.
Anyway, as you know from the post I published before going off on my ‘jolly,’ I have been away for a few days staying with a relative in the heart of the English countryside and, as planned, we spent the time walking, visiting gorgeous places, and doing the rounds of the National Trust, houses and gardens. Heaven!
More about all this later.
The very first morning of my stay we set off early to walk to one of my sister’s favourite places. The roads were muddy from all the recent rain we’ve been experiencing and the paths underfoot were slippery with leaves, mud and water. We both made our way with caution.
We walked into another village nearby and then set off along some long winding lanes to where there was a windmill and grazing sheep. Apparently you can climb the hill to the windmill, via the field in front of it, when it is dry and easy to walk. On this day it was not dry and the field was a mud-bath waiting to happen. I wish I had taken the camera because the windmill was so perfect and the setting was magic.
Anyway, we left visiting the windmill for another time.
We passed some dog-walkers and ladies leading their horses from the near-by stables, but otherwise we were alone with the birds singing, the sheep bleating and the odd aeroplane high in the blue sky droning on its way to somewhere exotic – most likely Gatwick airport – but I prefer to think it was transporting its passengers off on an adventure.
Busy nattering about this and that, as you do, I kept an eye on the muddy path as we came to a main road and walked behind my sister where the pavement narrowed and the grass verges were churned up from farm vehicles entering and leaving the fields hidden behind the high over-grown hedgerows along one side of the path.
The traffic became heavier as we progressed along the pavement, the road on the right of us separated by a muddy verge but not wide enough to prevent both of us keeping a wary eye on the cars and lorries as they passed really close to us, buffeting us.
One moment I was chatting about Sleeping Policemen and how you don’t see them so often these days, and the next I was falling flat on my face on the muddy grass verge in full view of the passing traffic. When I say flat on my face, I do mean flat on my face. My flaming cheeks were covered in mud, leaves and goodness-knows-what, my knees were soaking wet and muddy and so was my jacket.
Embarrassed or what! I wanted to crawl under the nearby hedge.
My poor sister was speechless, horrified.
I am sure she was thinking about Boxing Day 2012 when I fell head first down her stairs and the consequences of that little visit.
I couldn’t get up for laughing.
She looked mortified.
Once she’d helped me up and I’d checked myself over, painfully, because of course I have still got a broken shoulder and collar-bone from my last ‘trip,’ to see her, and everything still hurts like hell, I knew that nothing new was broken.
She looked relieved.
She wasn’t the only one!
I don’t know about her, but I was beginning to think visiting her is jinxed and I am fast becoming the ‘Guest from hell!’ What else is there to trip over, fall down or fall over I thought as she helped brush me down.
As I checked my trousers for mud and possible holes I noticed that under my foot was a brown rotten banana skin. All thoughts of getting my inner ears checked for balance problems disappeared as we both gazed at the culprit. I had skidded flat on my face on a banana skin which was hidden in some mud on the path.
I can now face The Mater with confidence. When she asks me if I’d been ‘drinking,’ I can answer no. All I’d had that morning was a cup of tea. Not that I am always half-cut I might add. It’s just that The Mater seems to think that accidents don’t ‘just’ happen!
When I fell down the stairs on Boxing Day (11am in the morning, just after breakfast) none of us could convince her I’d not had a drop of the hard stuff and fallen down drunk!
The walk back to my sister’s cottage was rather quieter and a lot brisker than our outward walking pace. I think she wanted to get me safely inside before I could do anything else embarrassing.
After a much-needed cuppa we decided to go and visit some local places of interest and I shall write about them in another post.
The following day we spent a fabulous time at a wonderful country house with gorgeous grounds, called ‘Bateman’s.’
For those of you who are fans of Rudyard Kipling, you will know that his was his home in Burwash village, East Sussex, and where he wrote many of his poems.
One of the greatest writers of our time; Rudyard Kipling, lived modestly in comparison with some of his contemporaries. His family home is gorgeous but simple and comfortable and we got the feeling that we could have lived there very easily. It looked as if the family had just popped out for a while.
I could’ve screamed because my camera decided to fail (battery flat) just as we arrived and began to take some photos of the delightful 17th century sandstone house which is surrounded by the most tranquil and lovely gardens I have seen in a long time.
They also have their own mill in the grounds which are surrounded by farmland where, in the summer, you can find French Limousin cattle grazing on the estate which is managed by tenant farmers, and there is an orchard, herb garden, pond and wildflower meadow surrounded by an old stone wall. Rudyard Kipling’s Rolls Royce is still in the garage.
A perfect place to find a nook and a seat where one can sit and read in peace whilst munching on a bag of liquorice!
But we didn’t sit or munch.
We had a good look round and chatted to some of the National Trust staff about the family and Rudyard and his writing, and one of them even knew his daughter Elsie, quite well, so she gave us some interesting insights to the family.
The sun was very bright and the home dimly lit and so the few photos I managed to take are either very dark or far too bright. I am crossing my fingers I can go again some time in the future and this time I shall make sure that the camera is fully charged.
The rooms are much as he left them; oriental rugs and artefacts from his Eastern adventures, a book-lined study, illustrations from the Jungle Book on the walls, Victorian toys in the nursery all make for a comfortable family home.
His memorabilia from India reminded me of my own father (born in India too) and Grandfather who had lots of similar possessions brought back from there when he retired from the British Army in 1947 after 30 years serving out there.
Rudyard Kipling was 36 when he purchased Bateman’s. He stayed at the local pub in Burwash village, The Bear, for a while before moving in. By this time he was the most famous writer in the English-speaking world – with his enormous success he was earning £5,000 per annum at a time when a secretary might have expected to earn £80 per annum!
Bateman’s was purchased for £9,300 and came with 33 acres of land. As more local land became available it was acquired by Kipling and today there are 300 acres of gorgeous countryside beyond the gardens.
It is thought that Bateman’s was built by a Wealden Ironmaster. In Norman times it is thought that the now quiet serene village saw the growth of Iron production which lasted for about 400 years and we were told that the tell-tales signs of iron production can still be seen in the woods if one looks hard enough. Sadly we didn’t manage a walk in the woods due to the late hour and the failing daylight. Next time perhaps.
If you are interested in knowing more about the National Trust, Bateman’s or Rudyard Kipling you can visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/batemans
They are open March to December 7 days a week.
Bateman’s Lane, Burwash, East Sussex TN19 7DS
Well, I hope you find the first part of my ‘jolly,’ interesting and that you will tune in again for the next instalments:
Jupiter, Castles, Seed Banks and much more: tales from my Jolly, additional parts to follow soon.
As always all photographs are (c) Jane Risdon – All Rights Reserved.