Chris and I took a much needed week off over the Bank Holiday, as Bunter was recovering from his castration we took time to simply be at home with the dogs and get on with home improvements.
For anyone who follows along with My Little Country Life on Instagram you will be aware that last week turned out to be a very sad week indeed with the loss of my much loved pony Bisto. Chris and I really have been unfortunate with our weeks off this year, something expensive and unexpected has always happened, be it nursing poorly animals, both our cars getting punctures within 24 hours of each other leaving us with a bill of almost £1,000, or some other hefty expense. We have another week off in October and not being religious at all, we are contemplating going to church and praying that the next week off will be better than this recent trend that has developed!
Towards the end of last week we did treat ourselves and Shiva to a day out, I needed to keep busy otherwise I would have fallen to bits crying over my loss, and Shiva was in need of a decent walk. We therefore left Bunter with my Mother at the farm for the day to play with his brother Aero, (my poor mother).
After reading an article in Sussex Life on doggy days out in Sussex we left West Sussex and drove down to my old stomping ground in East Sussex, arriving in Sheffield park at the Bluebell Railway. I had not been here since I was 7 years old, and funny enough the evening before whilst flicking through pictures of Bisto I came across a photo of my Grandad and I standing on the platform in front of Thomas the Tank Engine at the Bluebell Railway of all places.
I planned for us to arrive early enough (10am) so that we could first have a visit to Sheffield Park (one of the first places we had walked together as a couple) and then grab a coffee in the café before going over the road to the Bluebell Railway. Late as always it was straight on to the railway skipping the park. In fairness I did expect the trains to be on a different schedule than they were!
Once we arrived we collected our one way tickets from Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes.
Even Shiva received her own doggy ticket!
Unfortunately the train times online from Sheffield Park were not accurate and we only had around 30 minutes to take a wander around the old station, I could have spent much more time here. I also did not manage to grab the coffee I was so desperate for only getting in a quick meander up the platforms and in to the museum, having chats along the way with the lovely volunteers (surprising them with our plans to walk back from Horsted Keynes) who were making a fuss of Shiva, before our train arrived.
I have been saying to Chris for months now that I would like an old vintage trunk as a coffee table in the living room – I found a beautiful selection on the platform.
I am by no means a train spotter, yet I love history and often feel I was born in to the wrong era! I believe that I would have fitted in much better in to older ways of life when the pace of life was much slower than that of our modern times. I enjoyed taking a step back in time and being surrounded by ways of life from bygone days, being at the old railway made me feel relaxed which was just what I needed.
On our next visit where I plan to do the Northern Bluebell walk, opposed to the Southern Bluebell walk we have now concurred, I will make sure we have time to sit, have a coffee and take it all in more so than we were able to do this time around. There is also a pub at the station in Sheffield Park that does very reasonable pub grub all for a reasonable price so we were informed. It is well worth ensuring plenty of time to not be rushed during a visit to this special place.
It was Shiva’s first time at a station or on a train for that matter and she was a little confused as to what we were doing. Knowing how clumsy Shiva is I was worried she would not “mind the gap”.
The train journey from Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes was not more than 20 minutes.
Taking in some stunning countryside along the way.
In no time we had pulled in to Horsted Keynes station.
Once off the train Chris asked me if I knew the route for the six mile walk we were to take to get back to Sheffield Park. Really?! Even after four years of knowing me he still asks me if I know the way?! I make it up as I go! Nonetheless to keep him happy I picked up a Bluebell walks guide (ops it was the station copy)! and we headed out of the station to embark on our hike back. The walk shadows the railway throughout stunning countryside all the way.
As we set off I began to read the map, I will admit now that I had been rather silly in my footwear. Normally never walking without boots, as it was a hot day I had left the house in trainers. BIG BIG mistake. I was horrified to read in the first paragraph of the walk guide, “the farm road can be VERY MUDDY” I read this aloud to Chris as I looked down at his own foot attire, loafers! Sussex Life had made the route to sound so idyllic “back across the fields” they had said, never mentioning anything about going through a farm!
It is safe to say that Chris was not impressed when we were faced with a field of mud, mud which at first looked solid until you stood on it and quickly sunk. I managed to get through but came out the worse of out of all of us, Shiva almost had mud up to her belly but was having a wonderful time running back and forth past us as we struggled through deep mud.
Chris was effing and blinding while I could only giggle until it hurt at the state of my shoes and legs, thinking if Bisto could see me now. This was exactly what I needed, to laugh. Thankfully as the grass was still wet from the morning drew I managed to slip off my shoes and clean myself up in the wet grass.
Once through the mud and I was clean we continued on and Shiva enjoyed running through the grass.
We were so busy admiring the beautiful houses we managed to miss the sign post for a footpath on our right and ended up walking a fair way down the country road in search of the Sloop Inn where we planned to stop for a pub lunch. As is always the case for us we arrived too late to get food as the pub stopped serving at 14:30 and it was now almost 15:00.
We did manage to get a drink and light snacks (for Shiva as well) before we continued on our way. Hopeful that we would be able to get food back at the station.
We missed out on food yet again! We had however enjoyed a lovely afternoon in the sun walking for three and a half hours, talking and laughing. Chris said only the other evening how much he enjoyed this day, which pleased me emensly. The map suggests to allow four hours for this walk so I was quite pleased with our time.
The volunteers we had chatted with in the in the early afternoon upon our arrival were glad to see we had found our way back! We said our goodbyes and headed back to the car where we had a little chuckle to ourselves when Shiva attempted very enthusiastically to jump in to the car only to fall back down (not hurting herself) with exhaustion.
We pulled over on our way home and stopped at a pub that I knew would be serving – The Bolney Stage. The food here never disappoints and the building is beautiful (very cosy in the winter). Shiva was happy to rest up and have a few treats, again being fussed by passers by commenting how lovely and well behaved she was. Chris and I both wanted to stay a little longer as by this point we were a little tired and not sure we were ready to face a bouncy Bunter just yet!
Leave nothing but footprints and take away only memories…
Love for now a very exhausted Emma, Shiva & Chris xxx