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Thursday 28 February 2008

6.2 miles Circular Walk on Sunday March 2nd from Horsted Keynes

The following, highly informative site,, explains that Horsted Keynes was known in Saxon times simply as Horstead - a place where horses are kept. A Norman baron, Ralph de Cahaignes fought with William at Hastings and acquired the Manor. Horsted then became known as Horsted de Cahaignes, subsequently corrupted to the name today.

This is a pleasant little walk, with some flat sections, but mainly up and down five higher bits to and from Highbrook, lead by me.

We were fortunate with good weather and that our intersections with the Bluebell line, corresponded with the arrival of the trains as you can see. That took some doing! Click on any picture to expand. it.

The Golden Arrow Pullman dining train.

Below are a few pictures from Tuesday 26th March, when I walked out the route for Sunday's MSR walk. Below is the view from Highbrook looking towards the South Downs.

Monday 25 February 2008

Eucharis amazonica

Eucharis amazonica is a most beautiful plant. This picture was taken at the end of November 2007. What a joy to get such flowers in winter! The rest of the year it has showy broad leaves.

It is a striking and exotic conservatory specimen or houseplant originating from South America. It produces an umbel of typically five large, white, showy, scented flowers on 2ft stems. The flowers resemble a delicate daffodil in having a prominent central cup or corona. It is evergreen and should not be dried out to rest. It likes good loamy compost and is best in bright shade.

It is expensive to buy, if you can find it. I will divide the bulbs in this pot at some point. If you would like a bulb, in leaf, please let me know. For the bargain price of a pint of ale, I'll bring some to a walk, by arrangement. It is a really lovely plant, which I have grown for years. To me, the scent is an exquisite vanilla-like fragrance and is quite lovely. Not everyone can smell it, but even so, the foliage and flowers are stunning without the scent.

Pub or kitchen-friendly overshoes

Have you ever been tempted to go into your home with your (not so muddy) gardening boots on and left mud everywhere? Or do you prefer to leave your muddy boots on when we stop at a pub?
These attractive plastic blue overshoes are a solution. They can be bought from the Internet, but you may not wish to buy 300; give your credit card details to a site you don't know; or pay delivery charges.
Help is at hand. For just £1, you can get 6 pairs from me before any walk that I'm on.

There is no longer any need to leave your boots out in the cold, hoping they will still be there when you come out of the pub.

Sunday 24 February 2008

Mid Sussex Ramblers' Pub Socials

Rambling at this time of the year burns up copious calories. And those calories are well replaced with fermented sugars....

Here we are at the Jolly Tanners in Staplefield and the Red Lion In Lindfield keeping the engine of the British economy running smoothly with our beer consumption. Someone has to do it.

Saturday 23 February 2008

6 miles circular from Woodingdean, Tuesday 19th February 2008

Bernard was scheduled to lead this Mid Sussex Rambler's walk. Unfortunately he got heavily plastered after a run and is taking a break from leading walks.

Luckily for us, Barbara lead us on this stunning walk via Bullock Hill, Standean Bottom, Balsdean Bottom, the South Downs Way and Juggs Road.

Many thanks to Barbara.

Bernard, we miss you and hope that your broken arm heals quickly and fully so we can enjoy your company again soon.

Views from the South Downs Way to Lewes in panorama and telephoto shot of Lewes castle. I still marvel at the technology behind this Panasonic camera to be able to take such shots.
Click to enlarge any pictures.

Sunday 17 February 2008

Circular walk from Devil's Dyke, Sunday 17th February 2008

As part of the Mid Sussex Ramblers' walks program, Phil lead this superb 6.5 miles circular walk from Devil's Dyke in perfect walking weather, via Edburton Hill Motte & Bailey.

According to Wikipedia, the 'motte' in French is a raised earth mound, like a small hill, which was made by local peasants and topped with a wooden or stone keep. The earth for the mound would be taken from a ditch, dug around the motte or around the whole castle. The outer surface of the mound could be covered with clay or strengthened with wooden supports. Bigger castles might have two mottes, as at Lewes Castle.

Such structures were built by the Normans as fortified look out points. The views from this Motte are fabulous as you can see.

Click on any picture to expand it -- especially the panorama of the lovely Sussex Downs.
See for the software behind this panorama
Thanks Phil for a great walk.

Friends of Blunts Wood & Paiges Meadow, Saturday 16th February 2008

The Friends, all three of us on this occassion, cleared a couple of hundred yards of ditch in Blunts wood in three hours on Saturday morning. This is such enjoyable work on a frosty morning, that we would be happy to share it with other volunteers. Any takers?

Pruning vines, Alsheim, Germany, Tuesday 12th February 2008

To appreciate what lies behind a good bottle of wine, it is most enjoyable to experience each stage of the process. Award-winning wine maker, Karl Breth was my teacher.

Here am I, laden with a battery power pack and powerful electric secateurs, cutting out all of the previous year's growth, except a single cane. This is then bent over to allow new shoots to grow upwards from the one new stem.
Only two supporting wires were cut as I was getting the hang of the task!

The cut vines are later removed and placed between the rows. They are then mulched by a tractor to produce humus to maintain soil structure.

Wine has been made here in Rheinhessen since Roman times and the soil needs all the help it can get.

Saturday 16 February 2008

Alsheim to Oppenheim, 11 miles linear walk, 14 Feb 2008

After celebrating New Year with Karl Breth and his wife Hannelore, this visit was sadly to attend her funeral and stay on for a week afterwards.

This walk was lead by Karl on a zigzag route from the Rhine valley up and over farm tracks

across rolling farmland and then back towards the Rhine at Oppenheim.

At this time of year hares are easily seen. In 4 hours we saw a dozen or so, boxing, mating and running. Rodents are common too, which explains the abundance of buzzards, kestrels and merlin. There were flocks of what I think may have been fieldfares. Roe deer are plentiful and are considered a pest as they eat the grape vines.

The sunshine masks the fact that this was a bitterly cold day with a biting wind.

If you want to see hares and raptors though, come here at this time of year.

The stone building behind Karl, built in 1906, is the ornate entrace to a water reservoir.
On the vines are triangular shaped pheromone traps to monitor for problem moths and smaller plastic devices containing chemicals to confuse the male moths in their mating habits

This is a typical scrape made by a hare as a resting site.

Roe deer

Rape is grown as a green manure, which is chopped and ploughed in to capture nitrogen and reduce its leaching.

Back on the ridge of the Rhine valley, we then descended into the rich town of Oppenheim, with its magnificent church.

Click on any picture to expand, especially the above panorama of the vineyards as we approached Oppenheim. This pic' produced with Autostitch software.

Kroete Brunnen, (toad well), is a famous wine producing area of Oppenheim.

We caught the train back to Alsheim after this bracing and fascinating walk.

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