A Day Out | Nymans

Ok, this is nearly two months late and it’s not as though I’ve not had the time but…anyway, a bit of waffle and some photos to document my day out, exploring yet more of my adopted home county of Sussex.

Nymans - under the stewardship of the National Trust - is located in the village of Handcross, just off the A23, approximately 35 minutes drive from the Brighton Caravan & Motorhome Club site or about 20 minutes from the Gatwick one.

Pre-booking was  strongly recommended so they could limit visitor numbers and ensure social distancing could be safely observed. It was busier than I expected but certainly not uncomfortable. The house itself was closed - not unusual in these strange times we live in, but it gives a good excuse to go back. The various retail outlets - café, plant centre and second hand bookshop were open but I was unable to have a mooch, having dropped my mask somewhere on route after checking in at the entrance. Numpty.

It being mid October I was looking forward to some lovely displays of autumn colours and was certainly not disappointed as you will see.  I’ve called this a day out but was only there a couple of hours in truth. Add in the house though - when open again - lunch, which you could bring as a picnic; there are plenty of benches to sit on, and a more leisurely pace and it could easily be a day out. One which I would certainly recommend too.


National Trust Nymans

A Day Out | Spa Valley Railway

After the Saturday at Leonardslee, Sunday saw us head into to Kent for another heritage railway trip on the Spa Valley Railway at Tunbridge Wells.

Booking ahead was strongly encouraged - like so many attractions at the moment - and like the Kent & East Sussex Railway the other week, only return trips between stations at  either end of the line were offered.

Platform space was limited and with social distancing restrictions in place there was little opportunity to nose around but we did get to see these old darlings:


We took a compartment which we would have exclusive use of and also meant that face coverings could be removed once seated. Not cheap at £40 for the two of us but a better deal for a family or bubble as the compartments could seat up to six.

As mentioned there was no opportunity to get off at the intervening stations of High Rocks or Groombridge, running straight through some picturesque countryside to Eridge back in East Sussex. It’s worth noting that Eridge is on the national rail network and is served by Southern. In normal times combined tickets and deals are available.


Whilst our outward journey was diesel hauled by Class 20 D188, which I wasn’t able to get a photo, our return from Eridge would be by steam with a loco rather unjustly named ‘Ugly’. Ok, she may not fit the traditional profile of some of the grand old locos of the past but is still a fine piece of lovingly preserved engineering.


Back at Tunbridge we went for a stroll around the Pantiles - it was quite busy in places - certainly busier than I felt entirely comfortable with in the circumstances, but still very pleasant nonetheless.


Parking was available nearby and their website was very helpful in pointing out options as well as detailing bus and train services. I’m very much looking forward to going back when services return to normal.


A Day Out | Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens

Once again I eschewed a weekend on the sofa to get out and about in my adopted home county of Sussex, not least as I was once again joined by a friend staying for the weekend.

Leonardslee  sits a few miles south-east of Horsham over the border in West Sussex. I say over the border, whilst the county is divided administratively many locals still refer to it as simply Sussex. It was also just a short run from Southwater, where Patsy was first dropped off for her annual wallet busting service.

Leonardslee only re-opened in 2019 after being closed for 10 years, the new owners carrying out a thorough restoration of the gardens as well as adding a vineyard.

Arriving around lunchtime we elected to eat our packed lunch in the car to save carrying a bag around - this turned out to be opportune as I later discovered on flipping through the website that no outside food or drink was allowed. A little mean perhaps although like many things at the moment I’m not sure how it’s enforced. Picnic baskets could of course be purchased from the café.

In the main we followed the prescribed walk around the gardens, which is indicated as mobility scooter accessible but not suitable for wheelchairs due to some steep slopes. Mobility scooters can be hired and a buggy shuttle service runs most days giving those with limited mobility access to the lower gardens and lakes.

Whilst the sun remained largely shy the autumn colours were certainly impressive and it was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours. Right, enough of the inane waffle - to the photos:




We finished our walk with a restorative cuppa in the courtyard of the Clocktower Café. A Pot of Tea for two turned out to be two paper cups with hot water and a teabag but it was refreshing at least.

As with many places at the moment, pre-booking is strongly advised - www.leonardsleegardens.co.uk


A Day Out | Kent & East Sussex Railway

Following on from Saturday’s visit to Arundel Castle - see previous blog post - Sunday saw us heading east into neighbouring Kent to indulge our love of heritage railways and we were rewarded for the cross country drive with some cracking weather too.

Like many attractions in these strange times, normal services are curtailed with just return trips from Tenterden to Bodiam on offer, the intervening stations of Rolvenden, Wittersham Road & Northiam being closed to visitors.

We arrived at Tenterden in plenty of time - time enough for a coffee, a visit to the adjacent Old Dairy brewery for some research samples and a packed lunch in the picnic area.


Soon after we heard the train approaching, watching as it trundled up the steep hill and into the station. Whilst steam traction was planned some operational issues meant we were to have diesel haulage for our trip - no complaints from us, many will know I’m a fan of old diesel locos, but the volunteer who told us was expecting some grumbles from the steam aficionados.


The team had certainly got to grips with the new Covid secure guidelines and every other table in the carriage was kept clear - things were very well organise, face coverings were of course required.

The 45 minute run through the Weald to the terminus at Bodiam was a delight, showcasing some of the best countryside Kent and East Sussex has to offer.



Bodiam castle is a walk or short bus ride away and normally combined tickets can be bought, however our wait at Bodiam station was just 20 minutes so the castle would have to wait. Enough time for a restorative coffee and shortbread whilst enjoying the views though.

Back at Tenterden we headed south for the short trip to the delightful town of Rye on the coast. The nice weather had clearly brought people out but it was a little too busy for comfort in current circumstances so we headed down to Rye Harbour for dinner in the William the Conqueror before a trundle back along the coast. Another great day out and hopefully more to come.


Kent & East Sussex Railway

Bodiam Castle

A Day Out - Arundel Castle

My weekends during term time usually involve a lot of time on the sofa, but a visit of a friend last weekend provided the impetus to get out and about and see more of the attractions in my adopted home county of Sussex.

With part baked baguettes cooked and filled with tasty home cooked gammon we pointed Rosie west and along the miserable excuse for a road that is the A27. It features heavily on the local traffic reports and even on a Saturday it didn’t disappoint as we slowed to a crawl approaching Worthing, barely getting out of 3rd gear  - apart from down in to 2nd from thereon in!

Arundel itself - a lovely little Sussex town - was quite busy, a little busier than was comfortable in current circumstances if I’m honest, helped no doubt by the monthly farmers market. A parking space was easily found though and the Ring Go app proved handy in the absence of cash. We perused the farmers market for a while, procuring some grog - sorry, research samples - from the Riverside brewery based in nearby Upper Beeding before grabbing coffee and consuming lunch in the sunshine overlooking the fast flowing River Arun.


Pre-booking was essential - as is often the case at the moment and some areas were off limits - compensated for by a sizeable reduction on the entrance fee. Sadly the Keep was one of those areas which would have afforded a nice view of the surrounding countryside but no matter, the visit was still enjoyable and in these strange times it was great just to get out and about and do something ‘normal’.

First up was the castle itself, face coverings were mandatory inside of course but there were plenty of guides around to assist and impart their considerable knowledge of the castles’ history as well as it’s occupants. My personal favourite was the library - a lovely calming setting in which to relax with a good book in front of a roaring fire. And a glass of something suitable to accompany, obviously.


Back outside the delightful formal gardens gave a great view of Arundel Cathedral and the walk back to the entrance via the ponds afforded plenty of opportunities for lens clicking - or phone button pressing in this case.



We took the seafront road back, passing through Worthing, Lancing, Shoreham and a very busy Brighton, to sunny Saltdean and rounded off a superb day with a delicious steak meal cooked back home in Legs Down HQ.