AD – This blog post is a paid partnership with Sussex Modern – a consortium of 22 culture & viticulture businesses united by the Sussex landscape.
Dotted with art galleries, museums, iconic vineyards & extraordinary cultural venues, Sussex is a destination brimming with creative thought, artistic endeavour & inde spirit. With the help of Sussex Modern, you can curate an unforgettable visit and join the dots between all the art, landscape & wine Sussex has to offer.
Friday, 28th August
Weekends were made for mooching; walking from one coffee into the next.
Nothing fills my heart with more joy than slowing down the pace, moseying around, soaking up a bit of local culture (translation: wine) & stumbling upon hidden gems. It’s one of my favourite ways to unwind, and if the period of lockdown introspection has taught me anything, it’s to do more of what makes you happy (and lay off the banana bread).
I am most grounded when surrounded by nature – it’s the Monty Don effect – be it on forest walks, swimming in the sea or reading my book on the grass until my arms go numb and I head home half an ant’s nest heavier than when I arrived.
We’re fortunate enough to live right by the sea here in Brighton – sandwiched between the coast and the rolling South Downs, it’s the best of both worlds! That said, living here makes it v easy to forget/neglect the opportunities outside of the city, which is why I jumped at the opportunity to be a tourist in my own county for the weekend, with the help of Sussex Modern.
At this point in 2020, I’ve lost count of the city noises I’ve bemoaned whilst working from home over these past 5 months: the 6am emptying of glass recycling bins, scraping, drilling, car alarms, mopeds and one overzealous electric guitarist. You name it, I’ve heard it and moaned about it. For context, my two radio stations of choice swing between Magic FM & Classic FM, Celine Dion is as up tempo as it gets round here guys. Safe to say, I like a mellow life. You begin to see why the hush of the Sussex landscape has my heart.
Armed with a cracking itinerary curated by the lovely team at Sussex Modern, we started off with a quick nosy round the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill before heading off to Towner Eastbourne for a couple of exhibitions including BRINK: Caroline Lucas and Alan Davie & David Hockney: Early Works. Even someone like me, who admittedly doesn’t profess to know a great deal about art, can enjoy the visual feast of an art gallery. I’ve got quite the soft spot for Hockney and his thick-rimmed glasses now. What a character!
Friday afternoon was spent picnicking down in the breathtaking vineyard at Rathfinny Wine Estate with a hamper of oysters, fish and chips & bottle of Classic Cuvée 2016. You heard it through the grapevine: it was the best fish and chips we’ve ever had.
Fed, watered & suitably sparkling, we headed in for our tour with resident wine making storyteller, Kristina, just in time to avoid the dark thunderclouds gathering overhead.
Usually this takes place between the vines, but due to the weather forecast, we took cover in the cellar. Being a vino evangelist, I’m naturally curious about the wine making magic, so learning about the processes of producing traditional method sparkling wine right here in Sussex was fascinating.
Then it was back to The Ram Inn for a night’s stay – a rambling old brick pub nestled in Firle, surrounded by greenery and steeped in village charm. It’s a real hidden gem.
I immediately fell in love with our room and wasted no time plonking myself in the free-standing bath tub. Only the bribe of sweet, sweet halloumi fries could drag me out of there and even then it was a struggle.
Belly full of 20/10 pub grub, we shuffled back upstairs to our Bloomsbury room for 9.30pm, just in time for a bit of Monty Don, aka the legend. Oh yeah, I know how to live!
Saturday, 29th August
The next day involved a slow morning listening to the pigeons warming up their vocals down the chimney & a lazy breakfast downstairs in the pub.
There was just enough time to befriend a few local dogs before rounding off our trip with a a visit to Ditchling Museum of Art & Craft and a wine tasting tour at Ridgeview Winery – the perfect spot for whiling away the hours.
Life is pretty peachy with a glass of Bloomsbury in one hand & a slice of Mushroom & Truffle Oil pizza from Tin Roof Pizza in the other.
Brighton is a wonderful place to live but escaping to the countryside is like tonic for the soul. Sussex, you’re a keeper.
Many thanks to the Sussex Modern team & all respective partners for having us. It was a weekend well spent, indeed!