Bloody marvellous Plumpton! (Plumpton to Haywards Heath) - In the name of Thiago - Day 261
Before we even got on the train though, while I was getting a sarnie in Subway, Nigel managed to catch Eastbourne's former MP Stephen Lloyd and explain what Jamie, his good self and yours truly were up to for the day.
With our bucket laden with a generous donation from the sunshine coast's former MP, we journeyed northwards to the delightful village/town - I'm not sure which it is though it does have a racecourse so I'm going with it being a small town - of Plumpton. We alighted at 10.36 and made it about 100 yards before we found a mobile cafe. Now today's walk was relatively short, a meagre ten miles in fact, so we were not in any great hurry.
After some not particularly greatly needed sustenance, we made our first nervous inroads away from Plumpton in the direction of Wivelsfield Green, which I assume is related to the place I once knew as Wivelsfield. It didn't start well.
As preposterously juvenile males are inclined to do, Nigel and I found this house sign and decided to make great play of its entertaining nature. About two seconds after yours truly was pictured here looking far too happy, a loud voice came booming out to us saying that she had copyright on the name, (which even at the time seemed an odd response). Even so, this woman was fucking fuming. Thankfully Nigel, as he was retreating, was still able to explain our more honourable intentions. Seconds later, not only had we been excused our initial indiscretion, but we'd also been invited into the lady's garden for a lesson in building materials.
Winklepatch, it turns out, is not some godawful sexually transmitted disease but instead is a type of Sussex marble, which said initially angry woman was very proud to point out was the material used by her father to build the house that she had lived in since 1962. We all stood in her garden, were offered refreshment, politely declined as we'd only walked about a quarter of a mile, and continued on our brave traversing of mid Sussex.
To here. Which was all of about 200 yards up the road. As we tried to navigate a 'no public right of way' situation by doing a bit of a naughty, the lady that owns this fairly spectacular pad incorrectly identified Jamie, Nige and myself as nice enough chaps and gave us the run of her garden and simply asked us to try to avoid the steely glare of her neighbour, who may not have been quite so regaled by our gentle buffoonery.
We trundled a little further on and came to this chap - a somewhat oddly positioned mannequin you might think - atop some scaffolding. The mannequin is called Paul - I didn't ask why - either to Paul or to the property owner, who we bumped into moments later while contemplating helping ourselves to a damson or two.
Everything was just so utterly fucking bizarre. If John Nettles had popped his head round the corner and said that he was investigating another Midsomer murder, no-one would have batted an eyelid.
I absolutely adore these roadsigns, the like of which I've only really seen in Sussex and Kent. They both create a message of the place that will always be home to me - my beloved home county - and now as I move into a new week, also the fact that I have moved away from the coast and am now heading inland. I am now very much crossing into mid-Sussex.
And here I am at my first county border, well kind of. It's East into West Sussex and for the purposes of this blog, that's plenty good enough. I do love how Nigel is positioned ready for action with the walking sticks borrowed from Jamie, who is leaning slightly gormlessly in, holding my charity bucket. Two finer men, you'd be hard-pressed to find.It was simply a day that rarely stopped giving. Before your brave correspondent ushered his two willing troops across this titanic land border we had also stopped for a read at a bus stop. As you do.
I had a quick flick through a Bill Bryson title for just enough time to learn that there is a place in the northwest of Victoria called Tittybong, which at the 2016 census had a population of 3. I don't know whether this is one household or not. You'll have to forgive me, it was only a very brief stop in Wivelsfield Green.
Onwards this brave trio ploughed until we reached the true heights of mid-Sussex - Haywards Heath. We stopped for lunch briefly first then Jamie turned to me and uttered the immortal words, 'would you like to take in a brief visit to Haywards Heath Town Football Club before we continue into town?'
I think my serious tone in this image conveys the great sense of pride at being positioned so close to this sleeping giant of mid-Sussex football. Throughout my embryonic football reporting career, I found it incredibly hard to understand why 'the Heath' were such perennial underachievers compared to the seemingly less glamorous Burgess Hill and even Hassocks for fuck's sake. Why was this iconic club sharing their Saturday afternoons with Shinewater fucking Association? I still don't know, but at least I've had my photo taken outside the ground.
I met my old mate Trish at the Burrell Arms in Haywards Heath, who was there with her friend Tracey, (thank you for the donation) and we happily found Beavertown Neck Oil on draft and then whiled away a couple of hours or so. It was all just fantastic.
And then we jumped on the train back to Eastbourne where I was fortunate enough to meet a delightful young lady called Gemma, who as well as donating, has also shared my story. It's been another terrific day on the 'In the Name of Thiago Memorial Walk' Let's keep sharing and donating. Thank you everyone.