Yesterday walked to school friend Tony Bailey’s 50th birthday party north of Hailsham in East Sussex.

The journey started with a walk to the station and trains to Polegate. It rained a little on the way but the only rain after that was whilst I was in a pub.

First pub was the Dinkum in Polegate. Like the two that came after it was a Harvey’s of Lewes pub with only Best on handpump. I have never been a fan but it was drinkable enough.

I walked along a track called the Cuckoo Trail which follows the route of a disused railway. The 3 mile part between Polegate and Hailsham was quite busy with plenty of friendly dogs. Its easy walking but the trees and bushes either side mean not many views this time of year. Some flowers and birds but I imagine there would be much more to see in spring and maybe winter with the trees leafless.

There were lots of cuckoo pint berries.

Cuckoo pint berries, about 25cm highest

I like this plant, though the flowers, which looks like a small penis (or pint) in a large vulva, come and go very quickly. I like them most because you can pull them up by the stalk

Cuckoo pint


stretch your arm behind you

Cuckoo pint ready to have its berries flung

and fling your arm forward keeping hold of the stalk. The berries shoot off at high speed and can go a dozen metres; ensuring there will be even more cuckoo pints next year.

Next pub was the Railway in Halisham. Friendly, as was the Grenadier, I got people talking and many them laugh. I had a half and half in the last one; this is a tradition of mixing half a bitter with either half a mild (once very common in West Yorkshire and Sussex) or a bottle of other beer. I chose a bottle of Elizabethan because I had not had it for many years, forgetting it is over 8%.

The second half of the walk was mostly off the Cuckoo Trail, though before I left it I passed an apple tree with massive red apples that were sweet and tart and one of the best I have ever eaten. That was followed by a big, green dragonfly.

Off the trail I passed a private pond and then a carpet tile left on grass. I picked it up and found a slow worm, a snake like lizard. I passed lots of tiles, obviously part of a programme. I saw 8 slow worms altogether, mostly very small, All but the first one just lay still as I looked, I then put the tile back.

I walked across a recently harvested wheat field and gleaned some wheat, picking up left behind ears of corn. If it is ripe you can rub it between your hands, blow off the chaff and eat the corn. Went with the apple and blackberries eaten earlier.

The last stretch was alone the road. A mile before the party I passed a table by the road with a couple of bunches of runner beans for sale, with a note to put the money through the letterbox. I am not a great fan of runner beans but like to encourage enterprise, so i put the money through this letterbox.

The lady of the house, Pat, came out to talk to me. It turned out her husband, Brian, is always talking bout Tony, and Pat could not believe he was 50. She also presented me with the other bunch of beans as a present for him.

Got to Tony’s house It was a grand party, with Tony playing in bands. There were six of us from Thomas Bennett Comprehensive School: me; Tony and Hugh (who have kept contact); Russ Barnard (who I have not seen for at least 15 years; Sorrel Clement (15 years) and Mark Hailer (30 years). i hardly talked to Tony because he was so busy but talked loads with the rest. It was really good but also strange, or interesting rather, talking about a shared past with folk I had not seen for decades. Both for what was said and the different ways we remembered; some having not thought about it much and others seemingly still seemingly living there.

Mark and his partner (Sheila, I think) gave Sorrel a lift to Lewes and me a lift to Haywards Heath. Tony had arranged a minibus but the lift meant getting back at least 90 minutes earlier with the lift,

I should write more about the party and the people.It was a great party, but like the walk, this blog is probably getting a bit tiring.

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