Year-round, there are plenty of fantastic walks and cycling routes on our doorstep if you don’t want to stray too far from the farm. We live on the edge of the High Weald with far-reaching views to Beachy Head. The surrounding countryside of rolling hills, scattered woodlands and ancient routeways is excellent for walking, hiking and cycling. And swimming is definitely not just a summer pastime here. The coast is a short distance away with its dramatic white cliffs, family friendly beaches and vibrant seaside towns such as Eastbourne and Brighton. Head slightly inland and you will discover plenty of fantastic country pubs, tearooms, farmers’ markets and award-winning vineyards to enjoy.
Hawthbush Farm is within walking distance of two great pubs: The Gun and The Six Bells. They are very different establishments and we suggest you take a look at their websites to decide which one you are in the mood for. Also within walking distance is Farleys House and Gallery with its stunning sculpture garden (open every Sunday April–October). The former home of Surrealist photographer Lee Miller, it is a must-see and by glorious happenstance is next to our lovely village shop and café. Why not come down for the annual Surrealist Picnic on the August Bank Holiday weekend or the Surrealist cookery courses?
Continuing the art theme, you are spoilt for choice with galleries in the area: Bexhill offers the De La Warr Pavilion, Hastings the Hastings Contemporary and Eastbourne The Towner Gallery.
If festivals are your thing, there are plenty to pique all interests. Brighton Festival is a multi-arts event in May, a marvellous mix of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events, which takes place in venues both familiar and unusual throughout the city. May also heralds Charleston Festival, a celebration of books, ideas and creativity at the home of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, key members of the Bloomsbury group. May still has more to offer with the commencement of Glyndebourne’s summer programme of world-class opera, which tempts music lovers and picnickers alike until the end of August. The Glyndebourne tour takes place in October/November and its spectacular Christmas concerts in December.
At the other end of the music spectrum, Chid Fest in July is within walking distance of the farm, as is Chiddingly Festival in October. Love Supreme Festival is a three-day greenfield jazz festival held over the first weekend of July in the stunning surroundings of Glynde Place and is widely regarded as one of the top jazz festivals in Europe.
Firle Vintage Fair is a stone’s throw away and gathers in the grounds of a stately home the best of the south coast’s vintage traders and offers workshops and performances in August – it is always a riot of style and character. And Rye’s Seafood Festival delivers all manner of local delights to savour. Summer fetes pepper most weekends throughout June, July and August, offering such traditional favourites as splat the rat, maggot racing, Punch and Judy and, of course, the obligatory jam and chutney stalls!
With more of a focus on family adventure, there are myriad farms and parks nearby, from Drusilla’s Zoo, Knockhatch and Blackberry Farm to Herstmonceux Science Centre and Wilderness Wood. Hasting’s Pirate Day is a fun and, frankly, unbelievable event: thousands of ‘pirates’ descend on the seaside town and concoct some kind of world record attempt to make it into the Guinness Book of Records – last year they aimed to build the largest human image of a pirate boat. Into the Trees, Elderflower Fields and Byline Fest all offer designated areas for children while also providing lots to entertain parents. And, one of our favourite destinations, Ashdown Forest is just down the road. Originally a deer-hunting forest in Norman times, Ashdown Forest is a great place for walking and enjoying spectacular views over the Sussex countryside and is known the world over as the home of Winnie-the-Pooh.
If you hanker after history, National Trust and English Heritage properties abound, from Pevensey Castle, the landing place of William the Conqueror’s army in 1066, to Wakehurst Place, Kew Garden’s Wild Botanic Garden in Sussex. Bateman’s, Rudyard Kipling’s family home with lots of children’s trails, is nearby, and if you’re lucky the water mill will be grinding flour, which is always available in the shop. And, Battle Abbey, sitting at the top of the bustling market town of Battle, hardly needs an introduction as the site of the Battle of Hastings.
Come November, Lewes Bonfire Society towns in Sussex hold huge gala events with fires, parades and festivals. The tradition has remained strong for more than a century, and is the highlight of the year for many towns and villages in the Weald.
December offers Christmas extravaganzas of all sorts, from classical ballet and concerts to off-the-wall pantomimes and festive workshops, not to mention lots of shopping opportunities from the unique boutiques of Brighton to the better-known names in Tunbridge Wells.
Chiddingly Village Shop (1 mile)
The Depot in Lewes