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Monday, April 30, 2007


A glorious day on the South Coast was somewhat ruined by the boring fact that the Gorse Fox still has to earn his living by working (as opposed to just scrounging off the State). With sunshine pouring through the study window, GF stuck by his keyboard tapping away (like Heather Mills McCartney on a wooden floor) reviewing documents and finishing off new documents of his own.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Droke Route Profile

That was it, all done.

Distance: 13.5 miles
Ascent: 1,508 feet
Highest point: 781 feet
Lowest point: 254 feet

This was not a great walk. Too much was in woodland, and consequently the Gorse Fox missed the expansive views of rest of the Downs.

Droke Hangar

On the final stretch Gorse Fox passed Lambsdown Bottom as he strode purposefully back towards the car.

This quiet little valley tucked into the Downs was the last mile back to the car. It was like a hidden world. Quiet, peaceful and devoid of other people.


There wasn't too much to see over the next few miles. Gorse Fox actually considered cutting his planned route short as there was so little to see as he trekked on through the woods.

He stuck with it, however, got onto Selhurst Park Road and followed it to where it met the A285. Crossing by St Mary's Farm GF continued (through the woods) up to Upwaltham Hill.

At the top of the hill there was a hazy view down to Upwaltham and its little church. (Gorse Fox wrote up his walk through Upwaltham on 3rd March 2007).

Walking back down the hill was a darned sight easier than the climb up.

Leaving East Dean

Climbing up into the woods, Gorse Fox looked back at East Dean below.

This was one of the wide open sections of the walk. Acres of oilseed stretched out below the field in the foreground. GF was about to plunge back into woodland, so made the most of these open views.

East Dean

East Dean was a charming little place. Not a sould stirred whilst the Gorse Fox explored.

All Saints Church was built in the 12th Century. Unlike some villages, the church does not dominate the landscape, but rather snuggles quietly on a small rise on the edge of the town. The Corpus tells us that East Dean is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey. It formed part of the prebend of the collegiate church of Arundel, which was given to Chichester Cathedral in 1150.

The Gorse Fox stopped for lunch. Perched on a bench overlooking this old farm building he sat and munched through a pasty, and swigged from some bottled water. What he hadn't realised was that just round the corner was The Star and Garter gastropub. The trouble was that the local ales weren't calling loud enough.

Finishing lunch, GF strolled east for a few hundred yards before turning south across the fields and up into the woods.

this cottage was called "Becketts"

Well that wasn't expected

Passing Newhouse Farm the Gorse Fox strode on towards East Dean. Before he got there, however, he passed "West's" of Sussex, a wood-turner and furniture maker.

The totem pole was a bit of a surprise... GF checked the map and confirmed that he hadn't crossed to Canada whilst mesmerised by the woodlands.

Newhouse Farm

Dropping back out of the woods, the Gorse Fox was heading for East Dean... but first he passed Newhouse Farm.

Turning south

At the end of the westbound leg of the route, the Gorse Fox caught up with two chaps standing by a stile looking at a map. GF called a cheery "Good day".

They looked up and smiled. "Can you help us?" they asked, "can you show us exactly where we are on the map?". The Gorse Fox went over and looked. He orientated himself as he looked over their shoulders.

Mmmm, something didn't look right. The guy was tracing the SDW on the map, but was looking at the wrong part of the map... in fact he had to turn over two creases in the map to get to the right place. And they say that women have difficulty reading maps(*).

Turning back south, GF left them to their walk, and continueed with his. Back into the woods for a few miles, but again total solitude.

Here and there there were openings that showed glimpses of rolling countryside. A slight haze softened the distant hills.

(*)GF, of course , doesn't subscribe to such scurrilous aspersion. Certainly his wife-nav is impeccable.

South Downs Way - Graffham Down

After a couple of miles GF passed his first fellow walker... and soon was out in the open and turning along the South Downs Way.

What a change the SDW made... from comparative solitude to the hiking equivalent of the M25. There were clusters of walkers slogging along eastwards and westwards... and weaving in an out were squadrons of cyclists wearing bright lycra and raising clouds of dust.

Getting underway

The car park at Droke is about 16 miles from the Gorse Fox's lair. The drive acros was interesting as he turned onto the A285. Coming in the opposite direction was a huge convoy of motorcycles. There must have been a hundred or more of these bikes riding in convoy down to the south Coast.

Turning off the main road GF headed towards Droke. There isn't much to Droke.. a small car park, and a single house. That was it.

Leaving the car GF headed up by the side of the house and starting the first climb up to the extensive woodlands at the top of the Downs.

Woodlands turned out to be the theme for this walk. GF soon observed that after about 20 minutes in the beech woods, all the trees look much the same. GF loves trees, but even still they can become a bit samey.

It's no Droke

This walk started at the tiny hamlet of Droke, a couple of miles west of Upwaltham. The Gorse Fox parked the car by the "P"near the lower centre of the map and then started walking in a counter-clockwise direction.

The walk took the Gorse Fox up through the woods to Tegleaze, west along the South Downs Way as it crosses Graffham Down and then back south through the woods to East Dean. From East Dean, the route again climbed through the woods to Selhurst and then followed the road eastwards to where it met the A285. Then onwards along a bridleway up Upwaltham Hill before looping back westbound down into Upwaltham and back along the road to Droke and the car.


The Silver Vixen is out with her coven... so the Gorse Fox is about to head out for a walk. Do call back later to see where he went

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Highdown Gardens

After lunch and a quick detour via Shoreham we stopped at Highdown Gardens near Worthing for a pot of tea and a stroll around the gardens.

As this was an unplanned trip, GF had not picked up his proper camera and was limited to the camera built-in to the phone... so he apologizes for the quality.

These gardens were donated to Worthing Council in 1967 and have been managed by them ever since. Highdown Gardens are a little haven of horticulture springing from an old chalk quarry. They are well worth a visit on sunny afternoon where they assualt the senses with the smells, the sights and even the sounds of the breeze through the trees.

Lunching on Fish

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen went with Betty and Barney to Baloo's. This is one of the best fish restaurants in the area, and we were not let down.

Skate, sole, bream, calamari... it was all superb. Highly recommended.

Dishonesty in Science

Gorse Fox, as you know, is convinced about Climate Change - it's what climate does and has done throughout this planet's history. What he's not convinced about is this new "religion" of man-made catastrophe.
The Englishman reports from his Castle today on more of the background. You should read it, because yet again it proves that we are being lied to by science that ignores facts that do not fit the theory.

Staying put

Betty and Barney Rubble are visiting today, so the Gorse Fox will have to forego his walk (though there may be an opportunity tomorrow).

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hug a Teacher

Old father Time has sent the Gorse Fox another chuckle...

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.

The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small.

The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.

Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.
The little girl said, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah".

The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?"

The little girl replied, "Then you ask him".

Recovery - Quote of Year

Any regular reader of the Gorse Fox's blog will know that he spends considerable parts of his working week in meetings. Meetings can be stimulating, just as they can be mind-numbingly tedious.

As a colleague called a meeting to a halt 30 minutes early he announced: "It's part of my life recovery strategy to finish all meetings early".

Now this is a philosophy worth following.


Whether you are FOR the EU Constitution or AGAINST, the Gorse Fox believes you have a right to have your say... and therefore was pleased when a Referendum had been promised. Now it appears that our sainted leader is about to renege on that promise...

What's that, GF hears you say?

"There's a surprise!"

"Who'd have thought it?"

Well, if you think you should have your say, there is a petition you can sign:
'We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to refrain from signing any agreement to create a new European Union treaty without first holding a referendum to ascertain the opinion of the British public.'
To sign up CLICK HERE

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sand dance

Council meeting was interesting.

We have seen sand eroded from our beach at an alarming rate this winter. At low tide, beyond the shingle bank, we can now see predominantly rocks where we used to see sand. One of the Councillors measured the depth of the erosion against the marks left on the groynes. It appears we have lost 2ft 9 inches (82.5cm) of sand.

We have asked the District Council to report on this.

Low Activity

Looks like a busy day, followed by the drive back to the South Coast and then a Council meeting. GF doubts he'll have time to report much.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


It was a busy day in the office with a series of meetings starting first thing and going on until mid-afternoon. All of the meetings overlapped other meetings, but some deft footwork enabled the GF to slink and glide gracefully from one to another.
The building work in the office reached a crescendo over the last few days, but as the the workmen started screeding the corridor by GF's desk, he decided the smell of ammonia was not conducive to continued concentration.

Leaving work, GF went straight to "Spicy Life" for a curry. He sat by the door and was kept entertained by the comings and goings of the 4-man delivery team who shuttled fresh provender into the building almost non-stop for ten minutes. He was amazed at the sheer volume they get through. The proprietor explained that they delivered every 2 weeks... but only the exotic ingredients (rice, ginger, etc.)

Leaving the restaurant, GF went for a short drive back into Worcestershire towards Bredon. It seems a very attractive and quaint village, and deserves a re-visit. (The pub, The Fox & Hounds looks very nice). He stopped briefly for some photos. A few weeks back, this river had broken its banks and stretched for half a mile or so across the nearby water meadows.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Tuesday evening sees the Gorse Fox esconced in the industrial park on the outskirts of Tewkesbury. Most of his colleagues are in and around Worcester so GF has a quiet evening.
The football is on the TV, the room is fairly comfortable, and there's WiFi access.

GF thinks an early night is called for, with the thought (from Lois L Kaufman) "Old age is like underwear. It creeps up on you"

Gordon and the Donkey

The Gorse fox has received the following, from Uncle Fester:
A young man named Gordon bought a donkey from an old farmer for £100.00.

The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day, but when the farmer drove up he said, "Sorry son, but I have some bad news... the donkey is on my truck, but unfortunately he's dead."

Gordon replied, "Well then, just give me my money back."

The farmer said, "I can't do that, because I've spent it already."

Gordon said, "OK then, well just unload the donkey anyway."

The farmer asked, "What are you going to do with him?" "

Gordon answered, "I'm going to raffle him off."

To which the farmer exclaimed, "Surely you can't raffle off a dead donkey!"

But Gordon, with a wicked smile on his face said, "Of course I can, you watch me. I just won't bother to tell anybody that he's dead."

A month later the farmer met up with Gordon and asked, "What happened with that dead donkey?"

Gordon said, "I raffled him off, sold 500 tickets at two pounds a piece, and made a huge, fat profit!!"

Totally amazed, the farmer asked, "Didn't anyone complain that you had stolen their money because you lied about the donkey being dead?"

To which Gordon replied, "The only guy who found out about the donkey being dead was the raffle winner when he came to claim his prize. So I gave him his £2 raffle ticket money back plus an extra £200, which as you know is double the going rate for a donkey, so he thought I was great guy!!

Gordon grew up and eventually became the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and no
matter how many times he lied, or how much money he stole from the voters, as
long as he gave them back some of the stolen money, most of them, unfortunately,
still thought he was a great guy.

The moral of this story is that, if you think Gordon is about to play fair and do
something for the everyday people of the country for once in his miserable life,
think again my friend, because you'll be better off flogging a dead donkey.
(Acknowledgements to the original author, whoever that may be)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Insult the Electorate

The Gorse Fox read something recently that brought to the edge of despair. There was rumour that the Blessed Tony Blair (invective be upon him) was considering elevating John Prescott to the Lords as part of his resignation.

Can you think of a greater insult to the British public than that?

Let's see how could we spin it?

"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for attending this Press Conference.

I'd like to start by reflecting on my last ten years as Prime Minister. In this time I have seen my government destroy the private pensions of thousands of people, persecute innocent people in the name of Human Rights, allowed all and sundry to enter your homes under any pretense, failed to fulfill my pledge to be open and transparent, watched as Civil Servants took the rap for Ministerial failures, lost control of our borders, handed our executive powers to the EU, invaded a foreign country, allowed the public sector to grow to nearly one quarter of the working population, reduced your disposable income to the lowest level since 1981, squandered billions on the NHS without improving it, created a paper chase for our police to keep them off the streets, raised over 600 additional taxes, promoted Margaret Beckett after she failed to destroy the British farming industry, removed ancient freedoms, and had the most useless, self-absorbed Deputy in the history of our Democracy.

I'm sure it comes as no surprise to you that I have this day offered Her Majesty my resignation from the post of Prime Minister. When She stopped dancing a little jig and singing "Things can only get Better", she graciously accepted.

As a final act, before I am transfigured, I wish to appoint my trusty Deputy, John Prescott to the House of Lords; he will be known as Lord Prescott the Useless and have the Party's Sleaze Portfolio in the upper House.

Thank you. I will not be taking questions"
That's better. Felt like a bit of a rant!

Care to write your own version...

London Marathon

A word or two about the London Marathon... the Gorse Fox didn't wake up until 08:30 on Sunday so missed it. Maybe another time(*).

(*) Note to self: it is unseemly for a man of your breeding and mature years to be seen running. Pour yourself another coffee and watch. That's what TV's for.


Well as days go, that was one of them.

We have one of those interesting conundrums to deal with at the office. It goes something like this:
  • They want a particular piece of software,
  • It was written in another country,
  • for all but the most extreme of problems, they can support it here in the UK,
  • but what happens if one of those extreme circumstances occurs?
  • the Department won't allow data to be sent to the support organisation, and won't allow foreign nationals access to the system
  • but they want this piece of software, and they want support,
GF has been drafted in to try and help broker some sense into the situation. Rock and Hard place come to mind.

One thing is clear, the Data Protection Act is pretty farcical. The government seems to be hamstrung by its own legislation (unless its wanted by US Homeland Security for Air Travel, and then it gives it away without a whimper).

It sounds like the theme for a Joseph Heller book.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


The Gorse Fox thought it was time to phone the Beloved Aunt and see if she is recovering well... he opened the lap top and looked at his address book...

He leaned over to grasp the phone... and as he did it rang. It was Beloved Aunt... spooky. There's no doubt that we must be psychiatric or something.

Eating out

Sir Lancinglot and Urban-cub came round to visit. The Gorse Fox's BBQ was unveiled for the first time this year, the gas bottle fitted, and ignition button pressed. With a reassuring whoosh it caught and the heat started to build.

After half an hour we had a pile of pork loin, bacon, sausage, and ground beef adorning the serving dish alongside a pile of salad... and sat down for a pleant al fresco lunch.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Plumpton Profile

Walk over. It was definitely a challenging one, primarily because of the late dip down to the village and then back up.

Overall it covered 10.3 2D-miles, or 11.77 real miles.

It reached a height of 735 feet
Dropping to 204 feet
The total ascent over the journey was 1751 feet.

Update: For a Google map, click here.
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The Final Stretch

The Gorse Fox was back at the top. The small sliver of oilseed at the top centre of the photo showed, tantalizingly, where the car was parked. There was a new spring in the step as the Gorse Fox strode on, overtaking the few dawdling groups of strollers enjoying this stretch of the South Downs Way.

Almost at the car park this deep path, Westmeston Bostall, dives over the edge of the Downs to the village below. It's not clear what the background to this is, but a bostall probably comes from the old English "fortified site".

Finally back at the car the view off to the south-east was much clearer than when the Gorse Fox had set out this morning. The sun was picking out the white cliffs near Newhaven, and daubs of oilseed brighten the folds in the intervening countryside.

GF has said it before, but Sussex is a beautiful county.


 After the tour plgrimage to Plumpton the Gorse Fox started the climb back to the top of the Downs.

Stopping for a rest photo opportunity on the way up he was able to pick out the chimneys of Plumpton Place nestling in the trees.
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Dazed and Confused

Behind the facade of houses a footpath takes you around the back of Plumpton. At first open, it delves into a small wooded area where it crosses a stream. The Gorse Fox found this spot enchanting as the water gurgled and tinkled through the glade.

A few metres further on, there was a shallow pond reflecting the surrounding trees and the small cottage at the far side.

Even the cherry blossom seemed content as it glowed in the spring sunshine and refelected off the pond.

It was no accident that the Gorse Fox had chosen to look at Plumpton. At the heart of the village was the Elizabethan Plumpton Place.

GF is not sure if this is one of the outbuildings, but it is described as formal and informal lakeside gardens by Lutyens and Jekyll, within larger grounds, woodland and pasture of 25ha. Main garden area of c.4ha round moated house. (It was in 1927 that Edward Lutyens remodelled manor house, gardens, bridge, lodges and made alterations to Mill Cottage at Plumpton Place, Edward Hudson)

David Gray has a series of photos of here

In the early 1970s Plumpton Place was purchased by Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and fitted out with a recording studio.

Plumpton, itself

As the sound of a passing car died away, Gorse Fox could hear a pint of Sussex ale calling his name. He was hesitant at first, having been brought up not to talk to strangers. He decided, however, it would be churlish to refuse and entered a lively discourse with said pint of foaming ale.

There isn't a lot to Plumpton. It's a quaint little village that seems to have lost in a timewarp. Even the old Garage is still there, though the pumps have long-since been removed.

Around the corner is the old School House. This is obviously another relic of a bygone era (probably lacking in funding from the government!).

A Decent Descent

You might think that gravity is the walker's friend. The Gorse Fox will admit that descending from the top of the escarpment is easier than climbing it, but it does give the knees quite a bashing.

The Gorse Fox couldn't really get so close to the village of Plumpton without a detour down to take a look around. This was a rash decision made in the comfort of the Gorse Fox's study, rather than a rational decision taken 7.5 miles into the walk.

He seems top remember that it was at about this point that a youngster (about 12-ish) came running up the hill with his dog. Gorse Fox remarked to himself how fit he seemed, and shouldn't be at home playing with his PlayStation and growing morbidly obese like all his classmates.

The little parish church wasn't on the planned route, so GF probably wouldn't get a better view of it than this from the hillside.

Finally the route found its way onto paved road as the open Downs plunged into a small copse. The occasional car could be heard from the road ahead. The Gorse Fox was approaching civilisation.

The Sussex Weald

The Gorse Fox continued past Blackcap onto a stretch known as Plumpton Plain. Stretching out below was the whole of the Sussex Weald. It is difficult to do just to a view like this, but the Gorse Fox has stitched together four photos to try and give the reader some inkling of the what was before him.
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East or West

Looking east, the track dropped away towards Lewes. The Gorse Fox had hoped that he'd have got a bird's eye view of the town, but evidently not on this planned route.

Following the planned route back towards the west Gorse Fox headed for Mount Harry and Blackcap (this area is known as Blackcap after one of the hills along this stretch of the escarpment.)

This old piece of farm machinery was discarded (or placed aesthetically, depending on your viewpoint) by the path.


At the easternmost point of the walk, the Gorse Fox found that he was on the National Trust's "Blackcap". It somehow feels satisfying to know that his annual subscription goes towards the upkeep of countryside like this.

It was at about this time that Sir Lancinglot phoned to informa the Gorse Fox that Spurs were 1-0 up against the Forces of Darkness. Gorse Fox cheered silently, and dig a little jig of delight as he pondered whether he was happier about Spurs being 1-0 up, or the Forces of Darkness being 1-0 down (for the uninitiated this is the club that has the hypocrisy to stand firm this week over its Englishness, and English ownership... when it doesn't have a single English player in its regular starting line-up)

Ashcombe Bottom

Passing Broad Shackles the Gorse Fox descended into Ashcombe Bottom. This was nearly halfway into the walk, and the Gorse Fox was feeling peckish. A snack nestled in his backpack, and the meadow below the trees looked the perfect spot.

"Horror!" There was a woman sitting in the field having her lunch. Gorse Fox felt that there is a sanctity in the solitude of the Downs... and rather than invade the solitude, Gorse Fox headed up over the hill, past Cuckoo Bottom onto the edge of Harry's Mount where he stopped for lunch and some sparkling water.

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Sites and Systems

This photo was looking back towards Balmer Down and the site of the Medieval Village of Balmer (recorded in Domesday as Bergemere, in 1086)... from this distance all the Gorse Fox could see was a few lumps in the hillside, and the copse.

Walking across Buckland Hole an old field system was quite clearly visible near the path.