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Adventures in Sussex: Camping at Fox Wood

camping at Fox Wood sussex patching

Over the past year or so I’ve been drawn to the outdoors more than ever, feeling a yearning for the quiet of trees and rain soaked grass and a chance to turn off everything else.

A month or two ago I took advantage of a big sale at Halford’s and stocked up on cut price camping goods – this had been the main thing keeping Jon and I from heading out into the woods. We didn’t have anything! No tent, sleeping bag, cooker…nothing. Hooray for sales. I stocked up and did some research to find a good campground near-ish to us. 

The camping thing in the UK is different than the US version – far fewer rules around fire, far more rules around messing with the local flora! I was looking for a place that was dog friendly, that didn’t have too many families/kids, and that was close enough to our town that if things went downhill, we could drive home in the middle of the night with our tails between our legs. A test camp. 

We ended up at Fox Wood Campground and we loved it. The grounds were beautiful, there was a good mix of families and dogs and everyone else (us, hello, childless adults), and it was generally pretty quiet. I’m a grump, so really, that’s all I want. But seriously. Turn off ur dang electronic music old people, we know you have been day drinking all day and now your kids have decided to go to bed so you’re getting turnt, but I’m trying to sleep over here!

The best part of camping is food, and fire. Specifically combined. I made my famous chilli cheese fries, and introduced Jon to campfire smores. It also rained a lot, I’m not going to lie, so most of our weekend was spent trying to either make a fire, or keep the fire going. There was a LOT of time spent hiding in the tent while it rained heavily, reading and playing the ukulele and just laying around, listening to the rain batter the tent. 

Bruce had a good time too, although I must say that sleeping in a tent with a wet dog is not my absolute favorite thing…by any stretch. However, he was really well behaved and pottered around the campsite, growling at any other dogs that got too close. I think he liked it, in the end. 

I’m glad we’ve broken our seal on camping – and I’m hoping that next year we make it for a lot more weekends, probably starting in the spring. I’m even down for some winter camping, if we can find a place to do it. It’s England after all, it just doesn’t get all that cold in the south! 

Where do you go camping in the South East? Have you got any suggestions for me? Dog friendly please!

Adventures in Sussex: Autumn colors in Sheffield Park and Garden

sheffield park and garden october colour

Sheffield Park October Autumn

Autumn colors can be hard to come by in England, but my cold Midwest American heart just isn’t really happy unless I find some vibrant reds, oranges and yellows in the landscape! Being new car owners, this year is the first time that we’ve been able to just…GO and hunt down the best foliage around. In a car! It’s practically witchcraft!

dog sheffield park and garden october colour

sheffield park and garden october colour red

Over the weekend we drove up and over to East Sussex to spend our Sunday afternoon wandering around Sheffield Park and Garden. The entrance was packed! It seems everyone did the same research that I did. But it was worth it, as the park is one of the few places in the area that actually has a big spread of trees with a variety of colors all thanks to the old rich guy who lived there 100 years ago and planted it as such. Thanks, fella.

sheffield park and garden october colour sussex

sheffield park and garden autumn mushrooms

sheffield park and garden october autumn fall

I actually was a little underwhelmed (only a little though!) by the density of colors, if you could call it that. There are still a LOT of green trees in the vicinity, but it’s a beautiful area nonetheless, with loads of trails circling and crossing over four different lakes. The red, orange and yellow can be found in patches, interspersed with all that green.

sheffield park and garden october colour autumn fall

sheffield park and garden october colour lake dog

Of course I’ll love the green come winter – one of the best things about England is how verdant it remains year round. It’s just this time of year when I want a little more jazziness in my landscape, you know?

sheffield park and garden october autumn dog lake

sheffield park and garden october colour autumn dog

sheffield park and garden october colour mushrooms fall autumn

I’d love to come back in the winter to walk around in the snow. Assuming there’s any snow this year (fingers crossed for that too!) I’m destined to always be hoping that my part of England will start to take on the weather characteristics of my part of America. Keep dreaming.

sheffield park and garden october colour red autumn fall trees

sheffield park and garden october colour fall trees autumn picnic

Jon and I waited to go to the park until the afternoon – dogs aren’t allowed until after 1:30 for some reason, and of course we wanted to take Bruce! The trails were full of other dogs and lots of families with little ones. Picnics were happening under trees and along the waterside, and many a photoshoot could be seen taking place with toddlers tossing leaves. It reminded me of my time in South Korea during cherry blossom season – the best trees would have a little queue in front of people waiting to get in and take pictures. The weather was perfect. Definitely cold, but the sun stayed out just until we left, then it became perfectly gloomy.

sheffield park and garden october colour autumn sussex

sheffield park and garden october autumn house sussex

I’m hoping we get the chance to fit in a little more “leaf peeping” before it’s too late. Maybe next weekend, somewhere new! The weather has been so idyllic and without the rain that we normally have this time of year that knocks any bits of color off the trees before it even has the chance to develop. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and let the National Trust page on “where to go on in autumn” be my guide. Country walks first, and pub dinners after? Best time of year, hands down.

sheffield park and garden autumn dog walk

sheffield park and garden october colour red leaves sussex

sheffield park and garden october colour lake trees autumn sussex

Shoreham Air Show

I married a guy who isn’t really into sporty sports (woo!), but is into cool cars and other interesting and mostly loud machinery. Or “interesting” I should say in scare quotes, since I am preeeettty ambivalent and/or not interested in those things. Even so, over the years I’ve found myself enjoying watching the Formula One races that Jon watches, much to my surprise!  Love, eh? So in keeping with Jon’s mechanical interests, over the weekend he talked me into going over to watch some bits of the Shoreham Air Show that was taking place across town. Actually he tricked me into going on our usual Saturday morning wander around town with Bruce at a different time and then “remembered” that the RAF were reenacting the Battle of Britain right around that time so we really had to go watch it, but I digress. We made our way over to near the air field and parked with the pup amongst the families and watched some planes do some plane stuff. And then there were wing walkers! To be fair, I would definitely find it more interesting if I had some binoculars to actually see things. Otherwise it’s just “plane does loop, disappears for 3 minutes, comes back again, repeat, take hour break”.

After a bit of sky gazing we wandered home past the house boats with our shopping, stopping to say hello to the little chickies in their pens (a surprising amount of house boat owners also have chickens!), and to the swan family who were out for a leisurely swim. The planes carried on doing their thing through today too, and all those old timey engines in the skies have made for a particularly loud and carbon-y weekend. We could see most everything else going on from our balcony as the air show continued, so there was no need to make much of an effort to not miss a thing, which led to lots of Jon and Bruce dude time out there, sitting on the chairs and checking out the big stuff in the sky, while I did some reading and enjoyed a coffee or three. A solid lazy weekend and the last one of the summer, to boot! Whaaat?

The house boats of Shoreham-by-Sea

Just down the road from our flat, lined up along the riverside, are several dozen house boats moored up in the muck. Many of them aren’t really seaworthy anymore (says the very not water knowledgeable lady on the internet), but they are mostly inhabited, and the area has a sub-culture all its own. A narrow stone path that goes between the house boats and the back gardens of the regular houses which back up right to the shore means that it’s easy to get up close and personal to the boats, which come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re looking for a minesweeper from the Cold War to live in…..well sorry, someone in Shoreham has already beat you to it.

shoreham house boats

shoreham house boats 2

shoreham house boats 3

shoreham house boats 5

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Our premiere Shoreham ramble!

My love for rambling is well known, and fairly well-documented here on ye old internet blog. But this weekend Jon and I stepped it up a notch and took not only our first Shoreham ramble, but also our longest ramble to date! We meant to go for a lengthy (but not too crazy) 4-6 miles but the day was so gorgeous and the trail so beautiful that we ended up doing 11 miles along the River Adur and back. Now we’re both sunburnt and our limbs are frozen into position and our joints are cracking and creaking, but that’s just part and parcel of doing these sorts of things, now isn’t it. Nothing a cold cider and a nice pub dinner couldn’t make up for afterwards.

shoreham lancing ramble

shoreham marsh

walking in shoreham

shoreham walk

fishing in shoreham

jon rambling

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Adventures in Sussex: Shoreham Fort

Did you know that Shoreham has a fort? !A mere stone’s throw away from Brighton, there is an old timey, historic fort that has a somewhat “storied” history, as it is. A fort-turned-movie studio, surprisingly enough. And I knew nothing about it until Jon and I took that drive last weekend and somewhat stumbled upon it (or really, slowly drove by it not knowing it was a thing, then turned around and parked in the tiny parking lot). Finished in June of 1857, it was built to protect against the penultimate English enemy, les Français.  Thankfully, it was never really needed for that purpose and years later a few films were shot there (in 1914). During World War II the fort was utilized as an emergency coastal defense, and in the 1970s it was eventually restored (well, somewhat restored, it’s obviously still broken down quite a bit).

shoreham fort 10

 

So like I said, we drove down to Shoreham.

road trip shoreham family

shoreham family road trip 2

And then we walked around on the beach for awhile, taking it all in. Windy!

starfish shoreham

shoreham stormy day

Only then did we turn our eyes to the fort. It’s a small place, but old and interesting and well worth a poke around. It doesn’t take too long, and we paid our £1.00 for the parking lot thinking that we would definitely not take more than half an hour, but an hour later we were still there! Yay history!

it’s one of those areas that has become part of the natural geography of a place-while we were there, a few families with kids in tow were running around, playing tag up and down the stone steps, and an old man was playing fetch with his huge German Shepherd-named Kaiser of all things. It’s really an example of contemporary life building itself up around a piece of the early 19th century.

shoreham fort 1

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