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What’s that all about?

We were on our annual trip to Brighton for a half-marathon event, but it’s not worth going all the way down there for a single day, so we made a weekend of it.

We drove down on Friday evening, stopping for food on the way. We’d booked ourselves again into the Premier Inn in Lewes, as we do. We came here the previous year too, and concluded that the hotel had the right balance of comfort, accessibility and proximity to central Brighton.

Saturday is parkrun day

We’d come down on Friday night so we could run a new parkrun. There are several in the area that we hadn’t done, but we opted for Hove Promenade on the basis that it begins with a letter “H” and therefore contributed to everyone’s A-Z or parkruns. We found it easy to park on the side of the main road and the weather was nice – sunny and quite warm despite being by the sea. The run itself is essentially a double out-and-back along the seafront. There’s a promenade that’s only about 1.3km long, so to get in a parkrun you have to go up and down twice. It was dead flat though, and if we’d been adequately trained we could almost certainly have run a very fast time here.

We didn’t linger for breakfast once we’d finished though, as we’d got an appointment with a full lardy back at home base. A lazy breakfast was followed by a similarly lazy journey through the bathroom and a change of clothes into something suitable for going outdoors.

The Devil’s Dyke

The warmth and stillness of the morning continued into the afternoon and we decided we’d make use of that by going for a walk somewhere scenic. The chosen place was the rather impressive Devil’s Dyke, which is a very deep v-shaped valley on the South Downs just outside Brighton. The reason it’s such a big valley is, apparently, solifluction, or put another way, melting snow saturates the little bit of unfrozen soil on top of the frozen chalk, causing it to run off like a gloopy mess down the nearest hill. I’m sure a proper geologist would describe it differently, but I like to think I understand the principles, especially seeing as I just read them on wikipedia. Despite the rumours, there is little actual evidence that the valley was formed by anything from the evil realms. It is a common human trait to assign responsibility to the Devil for anything that’s a bit quirky. Personally, I look at it and think to myself that if I was religiously minded, surely you would assign such beauty to your God rather than pass it off as evil. The Downs are really lovely, and this is one of the best bits I’ve been to.

There’s a National Trust car park on the top of the hill, and it was pretty much full by the time we arrived at around midday. Shows what can happen when the sun comes out. It was really quite warm. The Gardner parking karma worked as usual, and we found ourselves in a nice parking spot from which, had we been older and more infirm, we could quite happily have sat there all afternoon enjoying the view. It’s a big hill. With steep sides.

We felt sort of obliged to go for a walk down into the Devil’s Dyke itself, so after a bit of farting about we headed off in a generally downhill direction, following a broad bridleway and stopping occasionally to grab a geocache. Most of the ones down here were multis and needed information to be collected in the field. The ones that weren’t multis were field puzzles. Some of them were field puzzles in a box which, when solved, told you where the real box was. So the caching was a bit slow. They were entertaining and challenging, and quite well put together, but we weren’t exactly getting around the loop very quickly.

Back at the plot, when we got to the very bottom of the hill, the girls decided they’d had enough of the caching. Izzy needed feeding and I don’t think Kas wanted to expend too much energy before the following day’s race. So they decided to walk back up the valley to the pub and/or ice cream van at the car park, while I continued on around the bottom to do the rest of the caches. To be honest, once I left them the remaining ones of the series turned into relatively easy traditional caches with no field puzzle, and I started finding them more quickly, apart form the ones I couldn’t find at all. So I met the girls back at the top of the hill after 90 minutes or so, having walked back up the mother of all steep hills to get to the top. Whoever decided to call these hills “Downs” obviously started at the top, not the bottom. The Downs are chalk uplands. Which makes lots of sense, really. Not!

Anyway, we reunited and had a swift drink in the accompanying pub before retiring back to Lewes for an evening meal at a local Italian.

The caches I found on the day were:

Sunday

Kas had to be up and about for the half marathon quite early, leaving us with no time really to have breakfast in the hotel. We had to drive around the north side of Brighton to find our car park for the event. On our previous visits here we’ve always been able to park on the racecourse but this year we were due to park along a very long stretch of road that had been closed off to allow parkers. There was a massive queue to get in. When we did eventually get parked we then had a significant walk back along the road to find a bus.

The bus took us pretty much back the way we’d come. We went back to just one junction before we’d joined from Lewes and were then taken over the Downs and past the racecourse down to the seafront at the eastern end. This is the right end of the promenade for runners but definitely the wrong end for non-runners.

Me and the girls have been to such things before and, at a busy event like this, we’ve more or less given up on being able to spot our significant runner at the start. We mooched around for a while and waited at the start but didn’t see Kas go past. As we’d missed the hotel breakfast we therefore rocked off to get breakfast in a local cafe. We found a very nice one. Not a chain, but a one-off local job. The coffee was good and we found enough things to eat to keep us happy.

We spend over an hour in the cafe, so decided it was time to go and join the proverbial throng on the side of the main road and wait for Kas to come back. We were there for about 15 minutes before she arrived, I think. Anyway, Kas had passed us, so we then fought through the crowds to get to our assigned meeting point under the pier. It’s a big-enough event that there’s no point in trying to find people in the finish area, so we waited for Kas to come to us. She took a while. I think there may have been some coffee and massage involved.

Once she did reach us we had no particular desire to hang around in Brighton any longer, so we grabbed some chips and sat on the end of the pier before retiring to a bus and making our way back to the car park. It was already mid-afternoon by the time we got back to the car so we weren’t going to be home very early anyway.

The house was more or less where we left it, as usual.