Kas was booked into a cross-country running event near Brighton, so we thought we’d go down for the weekend. We’d booked a hotel in Lewes for the evening and had planned a bit of Tommy Tourism in Brighton on Sunday before coming home.
On the way down on Saturday, we had time to do a parkrun near Pinewood Studios – well, I guess we had time because we made time – but back at the plot, it was a relatively flat course in woodland and we got around it pretty well.
We stopped at Cobham Services for some breakfast and put some different clothes on while we were there.
At some point during the day Kas decided she didn’t fancy the cross-country any more, so she said she’d just go for a training run on the hills above Brighton while the girls and me did a spot of caching.
We parked up at the Ditchling Beacon car park, planning to do the “PUCK Butterfly” series on the Downs above Brighton, which looked eminently feasible even though we weren’t starting until lunchtime. The walk around the caches seemed to involve a walk down a steep hill into a valley, and then a climb back up again. The weather when we set off was marginal – grey but not actually raining – so we assumed it would all be OK.
In truth, the walk down the hill was OK. We found most of the caches, although a couple of them took some time. When we were about 3/4 of the way down, the weather took a decided turn for the worse, as it started raining. It got quite heavy and time was moving on, so we decided to turn uphill and start going home. About half-way up the hill we were making very slow progress and getting very wet, and we thought we’d only got an hour or so of light left, so we took the always painful decision to quit caching and just go back to the car.
When we reached the ridge at the top of the hill, still over a mile from the car, it was nearly dark and the ridgeline exposed us to very heavy rain and very strong winds. When I say “strong” winds, I mean winds that were really difficult to walk against. It was bad enough that I had some serious concerns about our safety, but there was nothing we could do but keep going in the direction of the car. At least we had a GPS, so we knew which way we needed to go, even if we couldn’t see it. About half a mile from the car Kas phoned to say that she’d returned and had then run down the steep hill into Ditchling village, where she was waiting for us in a cafe. She thankfully had some money on her and was able to buy a warm drink, but she didn’t have a change of clothes, as those were in the car.
Once we found her, the cafe was still open and we decided we better all get warmed up, so we had hot drinks and cake, and began the process of rationalising our very bad afternoon into something that becomes more and more death-defying every time we tell it, although in truth there probably wasn’t ever any imminent danger of death. Whilst sitting in the cafe we hung up our coats. They were so wet that they had to put a towel on the floor underneath. When we got into the car to go to Lewes we were still dripping wet, and it took at least 3 days for the car seats to dry out completely.
Once we got to our hotel and got checked in, we began the process of thawing out properly. It wasn’t late in the afternoon, because it was January, so it was totally dark by 4:15 pm and it was only about 5:30 when we got to the hotel. We spent a good hour and a half getting cleaned, dry and warm, and then headed out for dinner at a local Italian chain restaurant that Kas had booked previously. The tales of daring got expanded and embellished somewhat further while we were there, resulting in the now epic family saga that we have today. It was a good enough one, in fact, that most days that don’t go according to plan now end up being compared and contrasted with this one.
The caches we found were: