Saturday, 2 March 2013


I went down to Brighton on Thursday.  We didn't go into the centre of town; much as I love my old birthplace, it is increasingly difficult to drive into town and get out again quickly.

We entered the town from the north and stopped in Stanmer Park.  Sussex University was built in this park in the 60s and received all sorts of design awards.  Here's a promotional shot

I still think it looks lovely, nestling in sympathetic brick colours into the downland.

But I was there for something more poignant - we were planting a tree for my uncle who passed away a few months ago.  Thursday was his birthday.  He was the last of my father's siblings, but no one was particularly sad - he'd had a good life and died of old age in comfort.  The reason we were planting a tree was that he'd donated himself to science (as a perfect, just old, specimen, it was a nice thing to do really), so no burial.  Anyway, here we all are.  The lady in the chair is my aunt, now 90.

She is now the last of my aunts and uncles.  But, more to the point, there are 7 of my cousins in this pic!  In fact, I think I'm related to all of them somehow.  I recognised my cousin Jennifer immediately.  'It's been a while,' I said.  'Yes,' she said.  'We last met in 1964.'  Hmmm, how time flies.  My father was the youngest of a large family (as you might have guessed), which meant that even some of my cousins, sons of his oldest brother, are well into their 70s and some have already passed on.  But nice to see everyone again.

My uncle was a curator of the local rural crafts museum, which is in the park, so we held a small reception there.  It's a pretty eclectic collection of artefacts.


But fascinating to see what's now considered museum material, especially a collection of all the toys I played with when I was young.

We then went to Stanmer House for coffee.  Be honest - isn't this the nicest coffee shop you've ever seen?

Stanmer village is situated right in the heart of the park.  It consists of just a few flint cottages and is so cut off that, if it wasn't for the tea shop, it would be practically unknown and have few visitors.

I used to go there a lot in my youth.  We'd walk in the park and maybe watch a cricket match, and then retire to the tea shop for toasted tea cakes.  What used to fascinate me most (apart from the tea cakes) was that the whole village was really a farm and the High Street always seemed to be covered in cattle droppings.  Here's the tea shop - still there.

Notice the cattle byre next door, actually on the High Street.  The pasture is through a farm gate across the road.  And this is the church.

The little building in the foreground is a donkey wheel well, which was until a few years ago where the village got its water.

So many memories of family and childhood!


  1. A rather unusual send-off !! The rural crafts museum where he was curator looks a fascinating place. Stanmer House looks more like a stately home than a coffee shop!!

  2. It was of course a stately home, but a much better use for it now! The crafts museum did have some interesting exhibits, such as a 19th century hand woven straw beehive. Unfortunately I was so fascinated by that and other artefacts I quite forgot to photograph them! I must go back.

  3. So if you played with those ancient toys does that make you an antique too? I have always hoped that someone will plant a tree for me when I fly away. I would like a red maple or a crabapple.

    1. It is aways a bit disconcerting finding things of your own era in a museum. I like it when I have the kids with me though, so I can reminisce with them.