Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Great Malvern


Great Malvern
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Another view, showing the Malvern Hills sheltering the town. Inspiring start to the day!

GF is expecting the Abbot up in Worcester today. That always tends to trigger a fairly "active" day. There's a Board meeting, and we are also expecting some folk along to demonstrate some modelling software. Ahh! the Abbot's just arrived. that's all for now.

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Great Malvern from The Abbey


Great Malvern from The Abbey
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
This is the view that greeted the Gorse Fox as he left his hotel this morning. The sun was flooding the side of the Malvern Hills with light and the gardens and trees were proudly on parade to meet the day.

Quiet night last night with a brief trip to a local purveyor of Indian foods and an early night.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What a fabulous day again. If summer was always like this, there'd be no need to go abroad for holidays. (Well except for the ideas of broadening the mind, learning from other people, eating new types of food, drinking without paying tax to Gordon Brown, seeing exotic sites, and so forth).

The office in Worcester has been busy as usual. Esteemed Client is trying to type with one hand, the other having been sprained in a gardening incident at the weekend.

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Gorse Fox is on his travels again... as soon as he's had his reviving brew of tea he'll be heading back up to Worcester.

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Christians laugh at themselves

This article caught the eye of the Gorse Fox: from the Times Online: "Joke is on religion as Christians laugh at themselves".

The absurdity of it is a joke in its own right... telling jokes to see if they would fall foul of the Government’s religious hatred legislation. It's a joke, right?

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Urban-cub has been doing her homework and has been planning her wedding like a military operation. Her notebook is full of quotes and plans... right down to table layouts and flower arrangements for the tables. Impressive work, but only the first quote or estimate for everything, so nothing to really compare with. GF was not very populer, methinks, when he suggested looking at some more venues for comparison! GF will probably have to put-off retirement until he's 90!

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Balance

In the interest of balance, Gorse Fox brings your attention (after a pointer from StarDasher) to this article "Behind the Lines" from The Guardian. This sheds a different slant on the ongoing debate regarding "Betrayal of Stolen Children".

As usual, with the media you are left in a quandry as to who you should believe. Gut reaction is neither - The Daily Mail has a habit of over-reacting, and let's face it, The Guardian is just so flawed in its general reporting and comment as to be risible. GF guesses the truth is somewhere in the middle. The tragedy is not the reporting, but broken family.

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Gorse Fox has spent the morning constructing the first version of a spreadsheet to manage the finances surrounding Urban-cubs planned nuptials. He's sure it'll take a couple of passes before he gets it right, but it's a start. Urban-cub and Sir Lancinglot-now-Moved are expected within the hour!!!

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Chantry Hill


Chantry Hill
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Peering over the edge of Chantry Hill towards Grey Friars Farm. Everywhere he looked there were stunning views. Even GF's nifty little camera just can't do it justice.

Driving home the intrepid couple commented on how lucky they are to live with such scenery on their doorstep. A superb trip out.

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The Sussex Weald from Chantry Post

The views from Chantry Post really are enchanting. Turning away from the views over the Channel we looked north over the Sussex Weald as far as the Surrey Hills.

The view was certainly a bit better than last time GF was here and the weather was closing in.

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The Channel from Chantry Post


The Channel from Chantry Post
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Leaving Bramber GF decided to show Silver Vixen one of the viewpoints that he had discovered on a recent walk. Driving to the top of the Downs at Chantry Post the view looking south took in the roll of the Downs and the blue of the English Channel along the horizon.
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St Mary's House from the Garden


St Mary's House from the Garden
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Unfortunately, no photography was allowed in the house, which was exquisite. Indeed the inside of the house was the highlight of the visit for the GF.

After finishing the garden tour GF & SV toured the house and finished with a cream tea. This is parting shot of the house from the garden.


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The Silver Vixen at Bramber


The Silver Vixen at Bramber
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Part of visit included a tour of the 3 acres of gardens. Until recently, these had been totally overgrown. It was only in 1997 that the reclamation began. The gardens had been laid out in the 1800s by Algernon Bourke. The guide started to wax lyrical as he explained Algernon's tenure:
"Agernon Bourke didn't own St Mary's but rented it along with his wife Gwendolen.."
Interesting the Victorians. Even renting wives!

It turns out that Algernon was a friend of Oscar Wilde and was the muse for Algernon in "The Importance of Being Earnest".

You can see the incredible progress that has been made in the reclamation, but there is a long way to go.

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St Mary's House, Bramber


St Mary's House, Bramber
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
The history of St Mary's goes back to the Templars, but the current house seems to date from about 1470 when William of Waynflete (Bishop of Winchester) set about restoring the bridge over the river and the chapel that had stood on the site.

Now, the house is owned by the author, Peter Thorogood and he has set about restoring and preserving the house and gardens.

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St Mary's House from the entrance

A spectacular day in West Sussex with temperatures in the mid 20's and not a cloud in the sky.

Gorse Foz and the Silver Vixen decided to make the most of the day and returned to St Mary's House that GF saw for the first time last weekend on his walk.

En route to Bramber the intrepid couple stopped off at another car dealership and were quite taken with what they saw. Heading onwards, we stopped at the pub in the Bramber for lunch before St Mary's opened at 2pm.

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Telling quote

Four celebrities are trying to raise awareness and save our most-endangered species. Griff Rhys Jones is one of these celebrities (not endangered species):
"Rhinos don't do much except eat huge amounts and sleep. There's lots there for a middle-aged man to identify with..."
Gorse Fox says "Amen" to that.

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Imperialist food

Suzanne Moore (a journalist with whom GF rarely agrees) made GF smile this morning with the observation:
"That suicide bomber Hasib Hussein went to McDonald's before killing 13 people on abus reveals a deeply confused and perverse mindset. Wgy would you go to paradise as a martyr with a belly full of the very food that symbolises Western imperialism?"
Makes you wonder!

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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Blimey - There's a turn up...

Remember Lindy Chamberlain and the dingo? ... Well according to this Brisbane Newspaper story I am Azaria, says scarred woman.

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Too dumb - revisited

Simon Heffer in today's "Daily Mail" has commented on the disgraceful Betrayal of Stolen Chlidren:
The trouble with living in a hard-line socialist state like ours is that people who work for the Government feel they can do exactly what they like.That can be the only explanation for the way that Essex social services have ruthlessly removed two children from their parents for no better reason than that the mother allegedly has an IQ of 60. IQ can be no adequate measure of whether someone is fit to take that responsibility. After all, even if Essex's social workers register a considerably higher score than 60, look what irresponsible idiots they are.


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Gorse Fox started the day by finishing the construction of the bedside tables he had started last weekend. With all of the marking-up done last week, the biscuit joiner made short work of the joints. Within a very short time all of the clamps were in place and the glue was curing.

Short break to check on favoured blogs, then the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox had to hit the shops in order to find some blinds for the bathroom window. Do we chose roller-blinds (the GF hopes not), venetion blinds, vertical blinds... the choices seem varied but not inspiring. Finally, we chose a vertical blind, but the one required was out of stock... so we placed an order and will await its arrival with interest.

Silver Vixen drives a car that she likes a great deal, but it is getting a little long in the tooth. Next on the agenda was a swing round various car dealerships to review what was available and get an idea what her next car may be. Finally, there was a revisit to Regurgitation Central (The Swallow's Return) for a nice meal.

Only dark patch on the day was that Cousteau-cub's boys in blue scraped a 0-2 victory over GF's Spurs.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Top Gear (well not, actually)

Latest news on the saga of the VW. Local garage has just called. They have stripped the engine right down, and discovered a small crack. They are ordering a replacement engine from VW, which should arrive late next week.

That's a relief. The fault has been found, and they are not messing around... they are replacing the whole thing. Assuming all goes to plan, that's a result!

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One of the interesting features of an approaching Bank Holiday weekend is the change in work patterns that are evident in the run-up. For the last day or so, colleagues and clients have been dropping off the air to add an extra day or two to the long week-end.

The result of this behaviour is that the morning's usual stream of emails and phone calls has dried up... and the Gorse Fox has been able to get some work done! Meanwhile, he has installed Google Desktop on his main computer at home and it is chugging away indexing all his files. Only 10 hours to go, apparently!

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Motorist with car on fire drives to petrol station

Scotsman.com News - UK - Motorist with car on fire drives to petrol station: "Motorist with car on fire drives to petrol station". It makes you shudder to think about the possible consequences. (Though for once, Sainsbury's might have been a warmer).

Thursday, August 25, 2005

GF's nephew Blade should be getting his GCSE results today. Just a word to say that GF wishes him Good Luck!

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It was a foul drive back from Worcester to Sussex yesterday. Heavy rain and spray made the driving conditions horrible.

This morning the Sussex coast is bathed in bright sunshine in total contrast to last evening. GF has been along to his local VW dealer and entrusted them with his car so that they can again try to rectify the fault that is causing coolant to become contaminated with engine oil. For the GF's convenience they have provided him with a brand new Polo which seems adequate in comparison to the execrable Fiat Stilo he was given last time.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Last night seemed strange. GF could not book into any of his normal haunts so found himself staying at a large conference centre near Evesham. It seemed strange as this conference centre doubles as a BBC education centre... and the GF hoped he had seen the back of them! It was also strange because it seemed similar to Starfleet's European education centre.... without the hundreds of people moving from class to class, and without a decent restaurant, and without the computers in every room, and without the internet connections, and without the cosmopolitan feel, and without the style. Ok, in fact it was nothing like Starfleet's place!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Trollfest

Today two of GF's contracts were on the agenda at a Trollfest. GF had to dial-in and listen to the proceedings so that he could answer any questions they came up with. His objective was to earn good profitable business for Starfleet... theirs seemed different, defensive, and preventative. GF won - so he's chuffed.

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Gorse Fox is making an early start to head up to Worcester for a couple of days.Esteemed Client is back from vacation so GF expects that it will be busy!

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Swallow's Return

Hmmmm. Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen went out for a meal over the weekend. We tried out a recently opened restaurant nearby, called The Swallow's Return.

Thinking about it, they could have chosen a more appropriate name, couldn't they?

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IMG_3059This post is just a brief experiment the Gorse Fox is trying. Using various tools like Flickr and Hello the blog format changes slightly when posting images. By using a common template, based on a table GF thought he may get better results, and be able to post numerous images in a single post with a modicum of consistency.

By the way this was another photo taken in Bramber during the Gorse Fox's walk yesterday.

IMG_3060This image was taken through the gates of St Mary's courtyard as GF walked back to the car. Given the busy planting that we had seen in Great Dixter, this seemed like a continuation of the theme.
IMG_3055This was another of quaint cottages that are scattered throughout Steyning. If you ever fancied living in a place like this... the cottage on the left is for sale!


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Too Poor to be Parents

In a follow-up to Gorse Fox's post Betrayal of Stolen Children, a report has just been been published (GF can't find a copy online at present) that identies 110 cases where the primary reason for removing children from their parents was that the parents were too poor.

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Sunday, August 21, 2005


That was it. Another walk notched up.

This shows the profile of the walk which covered 6.9 miles, and climbed some 785 feet. GF thoroughly enjoyed the walk, the scenery, the solitude, the silence, and the picturesque villages.

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End Game, Bramber (St Mary's House)


IMG_3058
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Gorse Fox had to make a slight detour where a footpath seemed to disappear as it crossed a road, but it was no problem. The walk looped back round across the River Adur's flood plain and back into Bramber near St Mary's House and Garden. This was open to the public, but GF decided the nearby pub looked more attractive at that moment, and a return visit with the Silver Vixen would have to be arranged.
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Steyning Workhouse


IMG_3053
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Further along Maouse Lane is the old Steyning Workhouse. Considering the history of workhouses, looking after the poor of the parish, this now looks like a very elegant residence
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Mouse Cottage


IMG_3052
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Looping back round, and down from the top of Downs, GF arrived in Steyning via Mouse Lane. Steyning is surely one of the most quaint villages in the area. GF isn't sure whether Mouse Lane gave its name to the Cottage, or vice versa. Either way the cottage was picturesque.

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South Downs Way


IMG_3046
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
From the Monarch's Way, GF picked up the South Downs Way, heading North West (towards the westernmost point of the map).

This view was looking southwards towards Worthing. Gorse Fox liked this patchwork of colours and textures.

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Look back in Bramber


IMG_3043
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
This view was looking back along the Monarch's Way towards Bramber (& Steyning) where he had started. The hill at the top right is a target for a future walk... more on that in weeks to come.
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Scraping the Bowl


IMG_3039
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
This is the view from the bottom of Steyning Bowl looking towards the crest. A few weeks ago GF walked across the rim of the Bowl and looked down towards whre he was now standing.
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Shredded Wheat


IMG_3036
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Rounding a corner, it was clear that the farmer had been harvesting and left his breakfast shredded wheat at strategic points across the fields.

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Monarch's Way


IMG_3034
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Climbing away from Bramber, Gorse Fox picked up the Monarch's Way and started to puff and pant as he strode steadily upwards.

Gorse Fox stopped for a drink of water and asked himself why the hell he was climbing a hill, with a backpack, in 25 degrees... and what was that drumming sound in the background. The drumming in the background slowly subsided. Was it a distant tractor? Was it an errant MP3 player? Was it a motorbike thrumming across the downs? No. It was Gorse Fox's heart disturbing the peace of the countryside!

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Bramber Castle


IMG_3030
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Some castles dominate their surroundings. Bramber Castle is not like that, it almost decorative in the way it enhances the skyline.

GF will have to come back and visit the castle at a later date... today's objective, however, was some exercise. No time to hang about - there were hills to climb.

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Starting point in Bramber


IMG_3029
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
The starting point for the walk was in the village of Bramber near Steyning. This was the first time the GF had been to the village which stands in the shadow of Bramber Castle built in 1070 a.d.

Bramber is a charming little place and the pub shown in the picture looked like a good place to finish the walk.

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Bramber-Steyning Bowl-Steyning


Gorse Fox started the day with a plan to do some woodwork. The weather forecast was for rain. Rain keeps folk indoors, so noone would hear the whine of GF's tools.

There was no rain. The sun was out, it was glorious. The GF's tools would make an unacceptable noise on such a day... so he had to change the plan. Fortunately there were several further walks planned and recorded just waiting for the occasion. Gorse Fox decided to start at Bramber (towards the bottom right hand side of the map). He then looped in a clockwise route up to the lip of Steyning Bowl and then back round and down to Steyning itself and back to the car.

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Silver surfers ready to storm shops

This report from the BBC caught the Gorse Fox's attention.

Well that should mean that the shuffling queues round Sainsbury will improve, and the attendants at the checkouts will hear conversations that start with something other than: "I'm 85 years old you know?"

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

VW Saga


IMG_3016
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
The saga with Gorse Fox's VW continues. Two weeks ago, you will remember the car was given the all-clear. Well GF decided to check the oil and water again this morning. This piece of tissue was dipped in the coolant expansion chamber. GF would expect it to come out pink... the black colour is oil that has seeped into the coolant from somewhere.

GF went back to his garage, sat down in front of the service manager and confessed that he was not a happy man. As he started to relate the problem the man immediately recognised him and explained that his car was the only one with this problem, that's why he knew the name. Apparently they take instructions directly from VW on the resolution of this problem (fat lot of good it did last time). The car is booked back in later in the week... and a courtesy car is being provided.

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The Engineer Online - Urine power

The Engineer Online - Urine power. Well Gorse Fox is now worried about the future. Sitting next to you on the train or a plane is a guy tapping away at the laptop. It bleeps to say the battery is getting low... he still has work to do... what happens next?

No this must must be a joke. They're taking the piss!

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Friday, August 19, 2005

The Moat


IMG_3011
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
The Moat reveals the the first ripples of the falling rain. Within moments the rain became quite heavy, and as everyone ran for cover, GF & the SV made their way to the shelter of some trees as the heavens opened. Gorse Fox hasn't seen rain quite that heavy since driving through a summer storm in Arizona. Raindrops were huge and splashing some 6 inches off the ground. The pavements became streams. The Silver Vixen's shoes filled with water... as did those of the Gorse Fox. After some 30 minutes they decided to head for some more solid shelter. Even sheltering beneath the tower proved fraught as the water was pooling in the archway leaving several inches of water in the centre.

There was no sign of respite. GF & SV entered and viewed the tower, then headed for the shop and the restaurant. Still there was no respite. Sissinghurst would need a return visit... enough was enough! Heading back to the car, and turning on the heater to aid drying the intrepid (and wet) pair headed home.

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Moat Walk


IMG_3012
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Looking back towards the cottage and the tower from the Moat Walk revealed this view. Gorse Fox loved this view as a study in perspective and architecture soften by the clever planting.

It was at this point that the first threatning raindrops started to fall. Armed for anything the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox unsheathed their trusty umbrellas, and buttoned their waterproof jackets... and continued their promenade round the gardens.

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South Cottage


IMG_3005
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Once part of the range of buildings running alonmg the south of the courtyard, this cottage is all that remains.

This view was taken from the "Cottage Garden". Even with the grey skies some of the planting seemed almost incandescent.

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Sissinghurst Gardens


IMG_1057
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Once in the gardens we started to wander down the various paths and avenues (see this map). The deepening grey of the sky tried to dull the colours but even still the borders were a joy to behold.
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Sissinghurst - cottages


IMG_1054
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
The right hand side of the main entrance to Sissinghurst featured this range. It had been a number of cottages that the family knocked into one to make thir home.

We joked with the guy on the gate that it looked a bit bleak, and rain was likely. Little did we know how right we were!!!


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Sissinghurst - main entrance


IMG_1053
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
This was the main entrance. Sissinghurst is certainly a most elegant site. Once the home of Vita Sackville-West, the famous writer and gardener, the existing buildings are all that remains of many phases of occupation stretching back to the 1400s (or before).[File under: ]

What a Grey Day - Sissinghurst


IMG_1043
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
The forecast rain, expected first thing, had not materialised. It was slate grey, however, and occasional raindrops splashed against the Gorse Fox's glasses.

The objective was to look around the famous Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens (a National Trust property). GF + SV arrived arrived early, parked up and made towards the entrance. From this angle the low fron range of buildings looked as if they were protecting the tower, and further buildings behind.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

George Hotel - rooms


IMG_2989
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
The rooms in the George Hotel are really quite quaint. The floors warp and twist over the ancient beams, and in the room where GF & SV stayed was this exquisite four-poster bed. On the wall was a plaque expaining that when Queen Elizabeth I visited Cranbrook, she retired to the George Inn, and indeed slept in the very bed to be graced this night by the exquisite Silver Vixen.[File under: ]

The George Hotel


IMG_1042
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
At the left towards the top of this picture is the hotel where GF and the Silver Vixen stayed.

We would recommend the hotel. It was very good. Perhaps the only drawback was the early morning roadside activity which was a little noisy.

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Cranbrook Windmill


IMG_2982
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Cranbrook was famous for its broad cloth. The windmill was used in the cloth production. The mill still dominates the skyline. Also in the foreground you can see the white boarded houses that are so common in theis are of the High Weald.

Gorse Fox got talking to a painter working on one of the houses. He explained that to keep the houses looking decent they need to be redecorated every 4 years. Not a maintenance load GF would relish.

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Cranbrook High Street


IMG_2980
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
More views of the Cranbrook High Street. It was interesting seeing the different roof lines, the different styles (mock Tudor, Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian) fortunately there was no evidence of modern development.[File under: ]

Cranbrook


IMG_2975
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
After Great Dixter the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen headed for the town of Cranbrook where they booked a hotel for the night.

It was a very quaint town with a picturesque High Street. We checked-in to the hotel and then set off to explore.

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Great Dixter planting - 3


IMG_2946
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
One last look before we leave.
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Great Dixter planting - 2


IMG_2944
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Another view of the planting.
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Great Dixter planting


IMG_2970
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Some of the astonishing planting at Great Dixter. Gorse Fox liked this view beacuse of the perspective and depth.
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Great Dixter - Sunken Garden


IMG_1016
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Gorse Fox arrived at the sunken garden. Whilst it looks pretty empty of other visitors, that's an illusion. GF was trapped on a path unable to turn left or right. Either side there were clusters of folk who couldn't make up their minds which way to turn. Hello!

This made GF think. When you visit these places there are few youngsters. Most the visitors are elderly, and there is the paradox.

They wander around as if they have all the time in the world.
They haven't. They're dying.
So hurry up, and get out of the way!!!

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Great Dixter - Great Hall wing


IMG_2965
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
GF & SF continued their examination of Great Dixter. Turning back towards the house we saw this elevation.
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Great Dixter - a quiet corner


IMG_2963
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Our progress continued and we came across this quiet corner. It was beautiful. The quiet was soon disrupted by a haughty womaen with her husband in tow.
"What's that smell? It's gorgeous! Oh we have one of these, I hadn't realised it was meant to smell"
She announced to all in earshot. As her huband wandered past the Gorse Fox he muttered:
"Now that you know it's meant to smell, I'm sure that it will. I wouldn't dare not to!"

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Boled Over


IMG_2955
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
As my regular reader would know, Gorse Fox loves trees. This gnarled bole was a mulberry tree that caught the eye.
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Silver Vixen at Great Dixter


IMG_2945
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
As we moved through the gardens, one vista after another opened up. Looking back there were always glimpses of the house or its chimneys (or the Silver Vixen admiring a particular bed or taking notes of obscure specimens).

The planting was lush (if not packed) and accented by variations in height as much as colour. Over the years GF has visited many gardens, but few were quite as inspiring as Great Dixter.

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Great Dixter - main entrance


IMG_0983
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
This view of the main entrance to the house shows how the drying of the timbers and shifting of the ground have caused the building to adopt this somewhat twisted appearance. To the right of the entance is the Great Hall, rising the full height of the house and originally heated by an open fire in the middle of the room vented through a hole in the roof. As technology moved on a huge walk-in fireplace was built vented through a proper chimney.
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Great Dixter


IMG_0981
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Silver Vixen caught this picture of the Gorse Fox as he approached the main house at Great Dixter.

The property has existed from the 1200s, but this house can be dated back to the mid 1400s. It was restored at the beginning of the last century by Sir Edward Lutyens, and the current owner is Christopher Lloyd the famous gardening writer. Gorse Fox found the whole place enchanting, and Silver Vixen fell in love with the planting.

Between us we took nearly 150 photos during the trip. Fear not... GF is only going to reveal a few!

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The Oak and Ivy


IMG_2937
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
So the Silver Vixen (hiding at the right of the picture) and Gorse Fox head east towards the East Sussex and Kent borders. The weather was spectacular and the villages that we passed through were as pretty as the proverbial pictures.

Deciding that we should stop for lunch we pulled in to this little pub. It had once been the haunt of local smugglers, but was now an excellent stopping off point just a few minutes from our intended destination.

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