Saturday, we awoke late after a mixed night’s sleep. We ate our breakfast procured from Waitrose the day before. Yogurt and blueberries for myself while Sam and Carolyn had Muffins with Bonne Mammon, clementines and milk. We confirmed that trains to Lewes were frequent and headed up to the station. We got our tickets there and boarded a Southern “local” train with a few stops before we even got to Lewes. It amuses me that there’s more than one train station in Brighton. But you can stop at London Road, and Falmer and maybe even one or two more places before arriving Lewes. And last time we were here, we rode our bicycles back from Lewes! (With Sam on the trail-a-bike.)
Not that I had a detailed memory of it, but Lewes was as I remembered. A cute little village with an easy station at the bottom of the hill, a bit of a climb up a narrow road lined with pubs and boutique shops up to the short high street that leads to the castle entrance.
After paying our entrance fee, we headed onto the castle grounds. Seeing a group head for the Barbicon gate, we headed for the shell keep/mott for the first. The building is small enough, and the bits open for visitors constrained enough, that it was hard to imagine medieval life there. One thing was clearly represented though – the way property was (re)distributed after William came to rule, and the resultant forced labor in a feudal empire.
I got a couple neat shots of the interior from one of the rooms where you can see the slits for firing arrows from, but probably nothing I didn’t have from earlier, except, perhaps for the iPhone’s panorama mode.
After the shell keep, we went over to the Barbicon gate. For both edifaces, it’s really just a spiral staircase with a couple of rooms of it – one at each level. In the Barbicon gate, they had another model of the castle as it would have been when it was inhabited, and they had a model medieval crane that kids could use to hoist foam “bricks” into place. Last time Sam was there, she had no interest in it. This time, it was probably the highlight of the castle for her. They also had some period fancy dress, but we didn’t indulge.
At the top of both towers were some impressive views of Lewes and environs. I had forgotten that you can see a prison from there – the most famous resident of which was Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones.
After descending from the gate, it was late afternoon local time. We were still a bit jet-lagged and didn’t really know what time it was, but we knew we weren’t going to make it to dinner without having some sort of snack, so we walked along Lewes' high street until we came across the Cosmo Cafe. Breakfast anytime, so Sam had some scrambled eggs and toast, while Carolyn and I got some hummous and pita and cheesy chips to share. When the chips came, I was disappointed to see that it was just grated cheese sitting on top of the chips, but as the chips were actually quite hot, the cheese did start to melt, and it became quite a tasty snack.
We returned the way we came, back along the high street, back down to the station, and a Brighton train was arriving in the station just as we did. We hopped on it, and were quickly back in Brighton – well, pretty quickly. It was still a local train.
We had known we’d wanted to go to the beach today, so we headed back to the flat for a quick change into bathing suits and headed out to the beach just across Kingsway from us. We plopped ourselves down on the edge of one of the little plateau that get formed by the tides. Carolyn watched and took pictures while Sam and I ventured into the water. We each made it as far in as to get the water up to our thighs. It was so cold that I was ready to get out about as soon as we got in, but Sam wanted some play time, and blew bubbles. Eventually, I went a little further out, and dived in. I swam a little ways out and then back in, done. I was hoping to just sun dry, and while it had been a pretty hot day, by this point it had started to cool off slightly, so while I did dry, it wasn’t the warm sun radiating off your skin kind of dry so much as the cool, almost-cold, but no longer wet kind of dry.
Finally, we knew that we were going to need to leave for dinner soon because we wanted to get back to Morocco’s for ice cream, and they closed at 23:00. We set out, swinging by the flat to change into something dry (and warmer). Originally, I’d wanted us to go to Pinochio’s so I could get their “Tortalloni Gratanati” – A dish Carolyn has tried to replicate for me at home with at least some success, but Carolyn had seen that they were closed on an earlier outing. So we set out for a spot in the lanes where we knew that there were a couple of Italian restaurants. We were rebuked by the first one, and would have had a 35+ minute wait at the second one. So we finally decided to wait the slightly smaller amount of time required to get a table at “Fat Leo’s”. If you want to have a birthday party in Brighton, apparently Fat Leo’s is the place to go. They sung for at least three different tables while we were there, one right next to us.
Still, we had a nice meal. Carolyn had some gnocchi, I got a pizza, and Sam some pasta. The adults split a half-bottle of wine, which seemed small when they brought it to the table, but we still ended up leaving some on the table when we left.
We made it back to Morroco’s with a couple minutes to spare when Sam had that classic kid moment. She and Carolyn both got single scoops. Carolyn got a chocolate, Sam a mint chocolate chip and we had no sooner stepped outside when Sam licked the scoop right off of the cone and watched forlornly as the scoop plumetted to earth. To her credit, she did not melt down. Didn’t even cry. I take my napkin, pick up the whole scoop and toss it in the rubbish – something we could see that other parents hadn’t bothered with as there were a couple of different places that there were stale puddles of ice cream.
One of the things I struggled with as a kid was asking for what I wanted. Even as an adult, I’m pretty open-minded and easy going, with the hope that things will work out based on that. Genetic or not, I’m a little sad to see how much Sam has that in spades. Rather than cry or even just ask for a new one, she suggests that she can just nibble on her cone – “It’ll be all right.” I get the coins out for another scoop while Carolyn explains to the staff what happened. They generously refill her cone and don’t take my money. While we had a slow and frustrating dinner there however many years ago, the ice cream service has been exceptional.
We sat on one of the benches facing the seaside, chatting and eating our ice creams. Finally, we head back to the flat for a well-earned rest. This night, I slept all the way through, even if I did get a late start to the night.