Another Leicester Weekend

A trip to Leicester? Don’t mind if I do. A nice early train from Crawley. Earlier than the one specified. But I know how rubbish Thamestink are at being on time, and the window at St Pancras to change trains is a narrow one. As it turned out it was the correct decision. The original scheduled train on my ticket was late and I would have missed the booked train from St Pancras to Leicester.

I’m travelling solo for the weekend. Helen is going to a rum and reggae festival tomorrow and it clashes with the reunion meetup I’m going to. I have come up to Leicester early to get a chance to wander around. Take more photos, and to get information so I can write some more pieces about Leicester. And it just so happened that there is a home 20/20 game for Leicestershire (la-la-la) tonight against Durham. So I have tickets and have arranged to meet up with old friends, Chris and Karl to go to that. It’s always good to have a catch-up, and the weather looks as if it is being kind as well. I will also be taking the opportunity to have a poke around in some record shops and see if I can make any more progress with the top fifty singles from my date of birth hunt that I’ve got going. I have identified four shops to have a look in.

I will be staying at the Holiday Inn at St Nicholas’ Circle, and am hoping for a view out over the church and Jewry Wall. The latter of which is still closed as the upgrade to the museum, work which seems to have been going on forever, but which should be complete by the time we come back to Leicester at the beginning of October. It is a nice central location for me to be starting at, with lots to see in every direction. Covering ground not really done much before. I want to cover the strip between Vaughan Way / Burleys Way and the canal all the way from the hotel to Abbey Street / Belgrave Road. And then do the bits the other side around Wharf Street (north and south) and up to St Georges retail park.

And as the reunion tomorrow is in the same place as last year it will give me the opportunity to get better pictures up the New Walk and back down London Road after last year’s were a bit blurry after I’d knocked the auto-focus off and couldn’t figure out how to turn it back on until I got back home. I’m also hoping its third time lucky for me to get inside the magnificent St James the Greater church on London Road and get some photos.

There will be some old favourites revisited as well. I want a couple of sets of photos. First up some nighttime shots, I have a list of places to shoot. And then to do the same list of places early on Sunday morning to get them as black and white photos as the streets are likely to be empty at that time, and then it will be time to head home. I also promise not to comment on any more Leicester institutions. I did a piece on them last year, mentioning ten of them which were permanent fixtures and part of the identity of Leicester. Less than a week after I wrote that piece and posted it, one of them announced it was closing, and now, just a year on, four of them have gone. It may not be me jinxing things, but I’m not going to tempt fate anymore. Perhaps I should just comment on soulless coffee chops and bland chains stores instead, or perhaps there are places that need to go. That should be mentioned. Let me know.

Something To Pass The Time

People are strange sometimes. I was walking into town along Malthouse Road. On the other side of the road a man was walking in the same direction as me. He turned out of Brewer Road and all the way along until we got to East Park we were going at the same pace. But when I turned into East Park to then go over the railway, as I was on the side of Malthouse Road that was closer to the bridge, I was ahead of him. Cue him speeding up to almost a jog to get in front of me and then taking the stairs two at a time to keep ahead as if it was a race.

The level of service in Maccy D’s really does seem to depend on the staff in there. They pretty much force you to use the self-service kiosks. I have gotten used to that by now. But then when the order comes to be done, depending on who is working, they act as if they can’t read. I always eat in. A chance to watch the world go by, and possibly see little vignettes to write about. Therefore on the machine I select the eat in option, and I always go and collect it from the counter. When the usual Saturday crew is on, it comes on a tray, they give you some serviettes, and everyone is happy after I clear my own tray and rubbish away once I’ve finished eating. It was a replacement crew this week. When I did get my collection, it was in a takeaway paper bag, slung in my general direct and no serviettes. I checked the sticker on the bag which had the details on it, and at the top in large bold print were the words EAT IN. it’s not fucking rocket science now is it?

Speaking of which, some of the Deliveroo / Just Eat / Uber Eats delivery bods aren’t on this planet either. You do see the occasional one with the proper large bags with the different sections in for hot and cold items to keep them separate. Then you see the muppet collection two large orders this morning. He appeared to have a large, padded bag for life. Which wasn’t big enough for the larger of the two orders he was collecting, let alone both of them. And he was cramming hot food and cold drinks in next to each other and on top of each other, with bits sticking out the top of his bag. Which is exactly the reason why no one in their right mind should ever order via these shitty delivery companies. The drivers don’t give a fuck, and the food will be cold when it arrives. And no one wants to have to microwave low quality fast food. It is only just about okay when ‘fresh’ off the conveyor belt.

March For March

Not my own tag line. This was the fundraising call from Prostate Cancer UK. To do 11,000 steps every day in March to raise money for them. It is a cause dear to my heart, as those who know me well will know, and the company I work for is in the third year of a charity partnership with them.

One of the guys in the larger team I work for arranged for a March for March challenge in the team. Twelve of the team were going to try and do 11,000 steps every day, and as a combined team we would try to get enough steps to walk a virtual tour of all of our power stations around the UK, just shy of 2,000 miles.

And I signed up. My last fundraising effort was doing the Thames Path Challenge for Marie Curie back in 2012 – which also involved walking. A lot.

I usually average about 7-8,000 steps per day, but that is usually made of up five not very active days dragged up by a couple of quite active days. So, there was a bit of work to drag the not very active days up to a level where I was doing 11,000 every day, and still more on the more active days.

As I started out, I found there were a lot of little incremental gains that would help. Very much in the Dave Brailsford mantra. A trick I missed on the first day of the month, but picked up after that, was where to park the car when arriving at work. I tended to park in the parking space as close to the entrance of my building as possible. Twenty steps tops to the door. But, if I parked in the spaces out the front of the main building, and towards the end of them, then it was 4-500 each way, nearly a thousand steps a day extra straight away.

And there were lots of those little wins in the building at work as well. I had a tendency to dump my coat on the floor in the corner near my desk. Change that to putting it in the coat cupboard at the other end of the floor. Don’t do everything on one trip from my desk. Putting rubbish in bins, getting drinks from the canteen, going to the toilet. Do them all separately. And when doing any of them, make it a lap of the floor. Get up from the desk more than three times a day. When the fatbit on the wrist buzzes to say I haven’t moved this hour, get up and do so.

Lunch breaks. I’ve never been one for leaving my desk at lunchtime. I had been doing a single shopping trip on a Monday lunchtime to get supplies for the week and then not leaving the building on any other day. Yet, in March I’ve been out for half an hour every day. I’ve been up and down every side street and footpath around the locality of the building. After all, I like looking around when I go anywhere else, so why not where I’m working. There are plenty of little hidden gems near the office.

Evenings. Go for a walk, even if it is only around the block. I was aggrieved on day one when my little fatbit didn’t have a wrist party for me reaching 10,000 steps for the day. Only to remember that I’d reset it to have the wrist party at 11,000 steps instead.

And the 11,000 steps a day was my aim for the month. When I started. Until I saw the figures for the first six days of the challenge. I’d done over 100k in those first six days, which made me think, that’s just under a fifth of the month, so if I kept that pace up, I’d hit 500k for the month. And with that my daily target changed from 11,000 to 16,130.

Plus, I’m competitive. I saw that that many steps was putting me near the top of the leader board. Why not try to eke some more out and top the leader board?

And so, I found myself doing other little wins. Not going the most direct route anywhere. Not using public transport or driving when it was possible to walk. Use public transport instead of taxis, so it isn’t door to door. Whilst waiting for anything, walk little laps. Just keep moving whenever possible.

I was helped a lot by the fact we went to Budapest for five nights. Exploring anywhere new means we walk lots. There were other days out as well, which helped. Helen was enormously supportive, both in going for walks with me, and with finding detours to extend those walks.

By the time I’d returned to work after twelve days off, I’d already broken the 500k for the month figure, and found I had quite a lead in the competition. It would have been easy at that point to coast the rest of the way. So, I did the opposite. I gave myself some new goals. First, break 600k steps for the month. On the second last day of the month I’d done this, thanks to a mammoth trek around Crawley taking pictures of churches. Then to break 300 miles for the month. I went through this on a little lunchtime stroll yesterday. Finally, make it to 620k steps for the month. To take that daily average for the month to 20,000 a day. I needed over 16k for the final day. And so, I walked across town to the WordFest comedy night, and I walked back after it and in doing so I hit that final target.

The team hit their target on the 30th as well, a great effort by all involved. And I managed to top the leader board and do the most steps in the month. Yes me. The fat, old bloke with two dodgy knees. I’ve been lucky in a couple of ways. The weather has been good walking weather for most of the month, there has been hardly any rain through the month. And I’ve avoided catching any lurgy, whereas other members of the team have seen their activity affected by Covid.

Though they seem to be less dodgy than they used to be. I’m not as fat as I used to be which probably helps, and I only resorted to biofreeze and ibuprofen three times during the month, whereas there was a time in the not too distant past where there were daily ice packs, and ibuprofen as of course.

At the end of a busy 31 days my final fatbit stats for the month were.

622,083 Steps

304.91 Miles

4,423 Zone Minutes

811 Floors Climbed

30 Badges Earned (some multiple times).

And despite the ridiculous amounts of food consumed when in Budapest I managed to lose 4 pounds in weight as well.

Now that March for March is done, what does it mean for my walking (besides wanting to lay in a darkened room for a couple of weeks)? Amble for April? Meander for May? Jump for June? Jog for July? (OK, those last two may be stretching the capabilities of my knees regardless of how much better they are compared to a couple of years ago.) I’m not going to go for anything as excessive as I did for March, there is no competition there to keep me going anyway. I will reset the target back to 10,000 steps a day on my fatbit. But there are a number of the habits taken up in March that I should be keeping. Move more often, and move further.

A few people have given me money for sponsorship, but I don’t have a specific donation link for myself. The organiser for our team – Mike Birmingham – has a Just Giving page we have been using for the team, it is linked to him as he is also doing the London Landmarks half marathon this weekend for Prostate Cancer UK. If anyone does want to sponsor me for walking around aimlessly a lot this month, on a retrospective basis then please use the link below and donate (perhaps put a note on to say it’s for Kev for March for March).

Mike Birmingham is fundraising for PROSTATE CANCER UK (

Poetry In Motion

Friday was a lovely sunny day, the glorious sunset the night before suggested it would be, and it didn’t disappoint. It was another day for wandering, and we parked up in the Grattons Park car park at the top of St Mary’s Drive. There were quite a few dog walkers there, although there was a lot more talking than walking going on.

We headed away from the park and ambled up and down the local streets as I compiled pictures of all the street signs in the little estate of poets. Yes, I was looking for a Tillotson sign, but it must have moved! (I did have my coat, but I had resorted to carrying it by now as it was a bit warm.)

This is an old stomping ground (quite literally) of mine with it being sat between where I use to live in Wakeham’s Green and my old office on Hazelwick Drive. There were many different ways through to use to reduce the boredom of the walking commute. We walked past the spot on Park Way, close to the junction with St Mary’s Drive where my knee gave up the ghost the first time back in 2010, throwing me to the floor in both agony and embarrassment. Marvell Close was where friends lived and there were frequent visits there.

Once all the signs were snapped, we crossed Worth Park Avenue and went into the Moat. A small woodland and water area, where both English Heritage and The National Trust lay claim to looking after parts of. It is a lovely oasis of calm, and the moat has houses backing onto it from three sides, with only the footpath to the east of it accessible to the public. For more information about this and other moated manors in Crawley, then go to Ian Mulcahy’s website

Where there are many great informative pages about Crawley’s history, and which have been an inspiration for me to do these walks of discovery.

To north side of the moat is Barnwood, a private road, full of buildings of character. To the south and west are Mount Close and Moat Walk which also have properties that back onto the moat, but which can’t be seen through the trees surrounding the moat and on the island in the middle.

We come out of the little sanctuary onto Dene Tye, part of a number of streets full of large well-appointed houses. The triangle formed by Worth Park Avenue, Crawley Lane and Balcombe Road is filled with such houses, and as mentioned before I would walk around these streets, probably looking quite suspicious, looking at the houses and dreaming of moving here.

From there we made out way up to Worth Park. When I used to live near it, it was still called Milton Mount Gardens, and hadn’t had all the wonderful restoration done. On entry to the park the magnificent Ridley’s Court catches your eye.

This was a later addition to the Worth Park Mansion as a stable block, and now they are the grandest building around, a Grade II listed one at that.

The mansion was demolished in 1968 with the seven-storey block of flats that stand on the site of the mansion replacing it. It always seemed a strange place to build such a large (and relatively) high rise block of flats, and they do seem somewhat incongruous, especially now that the lottery heritage funded restoration work has taken place. Yet I don’t dislike them, and I wouldn’t mind having the view those on the west side of the building have. (If not their current problems with gas leaks, Scottish Gas Networks vans were still parked outside and working there.)

We stop for a coffee at the little café in a horsebox that sits between Ridley’s Court and the covered Camellia Walk, taking a drink only, and managing to resist the allure of the wonderful looking chocolate cake and interesting sandwiches on display. With it being a sunny day there were a lot of others out, and the little café was doing a roaring trade.

Whilst drinking we carried on passing through the formal gardens, along the balustrade and down the grand steps to the fountain and pond. The gardens were laid out in the 1880s by the firm of James Pulham and Sons, the James Pulham who did the work being the third of four of that name to head up the company. There is a blue plaque to commemorate his work, and three parts of his work in the original grounds of the mansion also have Grade II listed status.

The fountain is one of them. We walk down over the Ha Ha (yes really, that is its name) and across Somerville Drive to the lake. In the lake is the second of the listed items, this little islet made from Pulhamite.

Pulhamite is a manmade stone that the firm James Pulham and Sons invented and used at a number of sites they worked on, including Newstead Abbey and Battersea Park. It has been found to have been made of sand, Portland cement, and clinker over a core of rubble and crushed bricks. It is difficult to tell that it isn’t real rocks. The firm were one of the stars of their day, and other examples of their work still survive at Sandringham and Buckingham Palace.

I knew there was another example of Pulhamite work somewhere in Worth Park, but on Friday afternoon it eluded us. Instead, we walked back up the hill in the direction of the flats and past this old horse chestnut tree, fenced off to try and prevent people climbing on it, and then on to St Catherine’s Road.

This was me collecting more road signs, with all the ones here been taken from Oxbridge colleges, some from Oxford, others from Cambridge and some that are at both.

The road meanders around and we found ourselves walking towards Peterhouse Parade (a Cambridge one), past the wide-open expanse of Grattons Park, where football training was in full effect, with footballs outnumbering people by at least three to one.

I rarely went in the Tavern in the years I lived that way, it would normally be the Snooty after work. But I did frequent the row of shops on a weekly basis, especially getting an illicit burger or kebab from Real Barbeque whilst I was supposed to be out walking.

Just along from the shops are 55-59 Grattons Drive, locally listed, they were part of a farm that would have been on the Montefiores’ Worth Park estate. Next to it and across the road are another couple of interesting looking buildings that have the look of being from a similar period.

From here it is a case of walking back to the car, taking the path between the school and bowling club. They rerouted the stream away from this part of the field a number of years ago, and it does look as if the water wants to have its old path back as it is quite boggy there still. There are even more dog walkers in the car park when we get back there, and again there is much more talking than walking taking place. Possibly involving the same people.

Having not found the remaining Pulhamite listed structure is needling me when I get home, so I get the full coordinates of it and find it was hidden behind the 1930s house that stands between the flats and Balcombe Road. If we had gone as far as Balcombe Road, then we would have been able to see it.

And so Saturday saw me head back over there to get some photos of it. It was another lovely sunny day; the café was doing brisk business again. I’d walked over from town and gone up the wide expanse of Milton Mount Avenue to get there.

Walking through the flat’s car park meant I passed the community centre, which is in the grandest looking community centre building, something that had passed me by the day before.

Once there I stepped foot into Wakeham’s Green for the first time since I moved out nearly seven years ago. I took photos of various street signs again as I completed a loop of the estate. This included the one where I had lived for what seemed like thirty years between 2008 and 2014.

Continuing around I came to the Heathfield store, a law unto itself for opening times, and a constant source of frustration when trying to get newspapers if it was within half an hour of its advertised closing time, as they would already have been batched up for return.

The community centre next to it is more in common with those found anywhere else in Crawley apart from Milton Mount. The next little bit of the estate was another collection of themed signs, this time bombers.

Plus, I always liked the sound of the word Nimrod. I think it’s a great word to use as an insult, and I had a picture from the side of Nimrod Court as my Facebook profile picture for a couple of years.

Back out on Balcombe Road I head back along to Worth Park Avenue, realising, probably for the first time ever that the grand looking building behind the wall on the other side of the road is, of course, the back of Ridley’s Court. It’s amazing how disconnected images can be when viewing the same place from different angles.

I turn to head down Worth Park Avenue, but in a nod to a past life of living in Pound Hill, I cheat and wait for the bus into town, having been out longer and later than intended. My fatbit has done its little wrist dance again, and its time to go home and have the usual Saturday night curry.

To Three Bridges and Back

After a Friday afternoon walk around Lowfield Heath, I was back out walking Saturday afternoon, this time by myself. I was aiming in the general direction of Three Bridges, but not taking the most direct route. Coming out of the back of Southgate, I walked past Malthouse Farmhouse. Another building tucked away, and one that is up for potential local listing in May as Crawley Borough Council discuss 6o suggested buildings for listing.

I crossed over to near the Library and had a quick walk along Telford Way, just because it was there, and coming back I looked at the library longingly. Ever since lockdown started I’ve been missing my bi-monthly creative writing group sessions, and the one coffee a fortnight I would have after the session. I’ve done a few zoom writing sessions, but they aren’t the same, I suppose it is the one thing I miss the most in these strange times.

From here I took a walk all the way up and down Spindle Lane, which isn’t much to look at, but is interesting in how these industrial / commercial areas look as if they’ve been thrown together with all the different styles and building materials used.

As I was passing I took a detour around Commonwealth Drive. I’d never taken the time to have a walk around it. There is a mixture of buildings in there, not just the flats I’ve seen from passing it countless times in the car or on the bus. And it’s bigger than it appears from passing it in traffic as well. There must be getting on for a thousand properties in the area.

I carried on past the Harvester and the Holiday Inn, a place I stayed a few times when I started work down here before I found a permanent place to live, but the American Diner I used to get my evening meals in is long gone. I carried on past Sutherland House and then made a right along the footpath up to the south end of Stephenson Way. Yet more industrial units, but right at the end is the Crawley Swarna Kamatchi Amman Temple.

A place of worship in the middle of an industrial area next to the wonderfully named (being on Stephenson Way) Stockwell Centre. One converted from an industrial unit, as opposed to St Michael’s and All Angels in Lowfield Heath whose houses were all replaced by the industrial units that surround it.

I walk all the way down Stephenson Way and out onto Haslett Avenue East. Across the road is the newly painted Three Bridges Free Church. And on the outside of the wall of the electric company’s yard is a blue plaque to the woman the road is named after.

I stop for refreshments at Charlies, home of the Scooby Burger, where the guy serving me tells me that they aren’t currently open 24/7, only from 5am to 11pm, as if he’d taken a look at my size and girth and decided that I was the right type of person who’d be turning up at three in the morning for something unhealthily fattening. To be fair if I still lived around the corner in Maunsell Park I probably would be.

I walk up Hazelwick Avenue, and past Tesco going to the furthest point of my travels today. It is to a building I’ve walked near to - especially for six weeks when I “lived” at the Ramada - and driven past the end of Hazelwick Mill Lane it sits on numerous times. Hazelwick Grange is a Grade II listed building, believed to date from the early seventeenth century, and was a farmhouse that sat to the north of the mill pond that covered the area the tennis club and Tesco’s now sit.

I used the underpass to get across Hazelwick Avenue and meandered through tree related named streets back down the the conservation area of Hazelwick Road. A mixture of terraces, semi-detached, cottages and detached houses from the late nineteenth century. And at the top, just before the end of the road is the locally listed 107 Hazelwick Road, the “substantial” detached villa the Victorian-era developer built for his family.

I turned into North Road and made my way down to get some pictures of the row of nineteenth century artisans’ cottages that run along the east side of the road. This row of much altered cottages are locally listed. Meanwhile of the other side of the road, from a similar period, is another row of impressive, but not listed buildings.

I make an about turn to head back up to a footpath through to the top of New Street, which seems a misnomer now that it is one of the oldest streets in the extended Crawley new town. Along here there are yet more late nineteenth century cottages. Upon one of which is a blue plaque, this one to the author Richard Marsh who used to live there. 

As I was taking the photo the owner of the house was repointing the brickwork of his front wall and jokingly said he’d have to charge me for the photo. We started a socially distanced conversation and he asked me how many blue plaques I’d found, and when I mentioned the one at Tilgate Lake he told me an interesting tale. He said he knew the children of the Campbell family when they owned the lake before Crawley Borough Council bought it, and he used to go swimming in it, “before anyone else in Crawley did”. 

Further along New Street opposite the junction with Mill Road (Cross Road on the 1909 map) is the former Spiritualist Church. Another building up for discussion for locally listing, but one that the inspectors couldn’t get around the back of to be able to verify some of the claims in the submission for listing.

Across the road at the end of New Street is the former Barclays Bank, another locally listed building.

After I got back from the walk I read in the Observer that the site just to the east of this of the former TSB bank has received initial planning permission to be turned into 49 flats. Though my mind boggles at how they are going to cram that many into what isn’t a massive space, and where the hell they are going to park.

Around the corner on Three Bridges Road is another row of locally listed buildings - 215–223. Again, these date from the late nineteenth century and have the gabled central section. This section of Three Bridges Road has a number of impressive looking buildings, two pubs, and a Jehovah Witness’s Kingdom Hall.

I continued back towards town along Three Bridges Road, full of large houses in differing styles, two of which are locally listed. 89 and 91 Three Bridges Road are thought to have been farm cottages from when it was all agricultural land between Crawley and Three Bridges prior to the new town plan.

From here it wasn’t far back into the town centre. I had one more photograph to take. I moved to Crawley in 2006 on a TUPE transfer when the company I work for took their payroll back in house. Ten years ago they had seven offices in Crawley, with divestments that reduced to three, two of which had been closed in the last few years. The last of the seven, and the one I’ve been mainly based in for the last ten years closed at the end of 2020, and when lockdown in over I’ll be commuting to Portslade. 

Of the seven I have worked in six of them whilst I’ve lived in Crawley, and I passed them all today. The first five in Three Bridges weren’t done intentionally, but to complete the set the last one in the town centre was.
I had only meant to pop out for a stroll, but ended up walking further than the previous day, although without happening upon any icy cold swamps. Tomorrow will be a rest day for writing these walks up.

Poles Apart

Underwear. That’s how the latest wander to find historic Crawley buildings started this time. Helen had an order to pick up from Next, so I thought that County Oak would be a good place to park up and start to explore from. Of course it is a different County Oak from the one that appeared on the map at the turn of the twentieth century.

We got out on County Oak Way and headed into the mish mashed styles of the industrial units taking a somewhat overgrown and almost hidden path between office buildings and storage units where high barbed wire fences, metal grilles and occasional fire exits lined either side until we come out into a car park and turn a corner to be faced with this.

County Oak Cottage is hidden away at the very end of the industrial estate, dating from 1705, it is thought to have been a conversion of an even older barn, and is a Grade II listed building, converted to offices, with a somewhat sympathetic extension to the west side of it. Peeking around the corner of the picture above is a more modern, but also Grade II listed building.

Oak Cottage has been much modernised, but originally dates from the later half of the eighteenth century. Both sat on the edge of what is Lowfield Heath, all open land when they were built.

The more modern map I have in my pocket shows there is a footpath north from these buildings up to Poles Lane. And it is true, there is a gap in the fence and what must be a pleasant path to walk across the adjacent field in the summer. Only it isn’t summer, and with the most recent thaw and rains, the path is more stream that anything else. The whole field is like a marsh with tuffets of grass offering points of apparent solid ground amongst the surrounding quagmire. Only there is no substance to the grass and soon I am ankle deep in shockingly icy water. It will take an hour after I escape from the swamp for my feet to return to having any real sense of feeling. One of the pitfalls of not being able to get on with walking boots and only feeling comfortable walking anywhere in trainers.

Once across the field we join a more substantial path that comes across from London Road to Poles Lane, one where there are at least some solid parts to use to avoid the puddles. There is only open land to the north of this path and that whole parcel of land between London Road in the east, Poles Lane in the west, north of the footpath and south of Charlwood Road used to be Cheals’ Nurseries.

And this footpath we walk on had used to form the border between West Sussex and Surrey, with Lowfield Heath being in Surrey until the reorganisation of borders in 1990, bringing it under Crawley Borough Council’s control.

Poles Lane is a much wider track, which it needs to be for the stream of cars to be able to get to and from the houses along it. It is surprisingly busy for a road to nowhere with only ten houses along its length. We head north along Poles Lane first passing first Poles Farm.

Which can only be seen from a distance between the trees. The barn in the grounds in a Grade II listed building from the seventeenth century.

Closer to the road (well lane) is a more modern, but dilapidated brick structure, overgrown and better hidden despite being almost next to us.

Next along, at the end of its own drive and small field is Spikemead Farmhouse, which dates from 1604. The run of lovely old buildings is somewhat spoiled by the utilitarian Thames Water building with a ramshackle tourer sat in its car park. A couple of later period cottages are right on the lane just before getting to Charlwood Road, but the building that is the most interesting is mainly hidden from the rear, and it requires a short walk along Charlwood Road to get to it.

Charlwood House is a huge building, Grade II* listed, dating from the early seventeenth century. And although it has a car park and openings to the west side of it, pictures were taken of the higher levels only, seeing as it now houses a day nursery.

To the south side and behind a fence is Lowfield Hall. Originally built as a barn in the early seventeenth century to serve Charlwood House it was extended in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries converting the original timber build to brick panelled walls, it became a residential property in the 1960s/70s.

We turned around to get back to Poles Lane and the follow it out at the other end. There is only a short stretch of Charlwood Road to negotiate, but it has no footpaths, and there was a sudden influx of traffic. None of which bothered to slow down in the slightest, and most didn’t even move over to the middle of the road to pass us, instead flying past with wing mirrors only millimetres away from us. Forgetting the highway code entirely in that pedestrians are listed first and have right of way.

As we passed Spikemead Farmhouse a car turned in and buzzed at the gate. I’m not sure what was being said but somehow have an imagined conversation in my head now.

“Hello, who is it?”

“It’s me Tarquin, open the gate.”

“Who’s me?”

“Don’t be such a prat, it’s Jemima, your wife.”

“Can you prove that?”

“What do you mean can I prove that?”

“Have you got an ID?”

“What do I need ID for, I live here.”

“If that were true you wouldn’t have needed to buzz to get in.”

“Tarquin, stop pratting around and open the damn gate before I get cross.”

“Sorry, no ID, no entry, thanks for passing by.”

“Tarquin? Tarquin? I’m going to bloody well kill you when I get in.”

“And that’s exactly why I’m not opening the gate.”

After my little imagination detour, we get to the point where the tarmacked road stops and it becomes a pot holed track. At the end of the straight just after the footpath we had originally come in from, Poles Lane turns right and meanders for a bit, on the next corner is another Grade II listed building.

Originally from the late Tudor period, it was extended in the mid nineteenth century is similar materials to the original. Poles Lane comes to a halt for us with the sharp turn into the entrance to Amberley Farm.

There are two footpaths either side of a stream, and not sure which to follow we took the left one as a group of teenage boys on bikes had taken it. It wasn’t a great choice, and I’m not sure how they managed to get through the thick mud, over the pronounced roots of the surrounding trees and under their low hanging branches, as they were all difficult enough for us walking.

The path popped out at the back of the Cherry Lane playing fields, somewhat waterlogged themselves. We crossed the field and turned in Langley Walk, passing as we did Langley Green Farmhouse. An eighteenth century brick cottage, which is yet another Grade II listed building. As is Langley Grange which sits further west along Langley Lane, and which dates from the early seventeenth century.

Back in relative civilisation I took a number of pictures of road signs on various themes, but without completing any set (this will require another trip), as we made our way to Langley Green Parade.

And as Helen got some soft drinks, I had a quick scoot around to add to my picture collections of pubs. With the Dr Samuel Johnson, which I will forever misname since someone told me they called it the Samuel L Jackson.

Then on to places of worship, the snappily titled Voice of Deliverance Full Gospel Church of God, which had used to be the Church of England parish church of St Leonard’s. It also runs with the name of Igreja de Deus for its Pentacostal congregation. Next to it in the Anderson Shelter lookalike former church hall of St Leonards is the Sri Lankan Muslim Welfare Association Crawley.

As we made our way up Martyrs Avenue on the way back to County Oak it would have been remiss not to take a short detour in to Old Martyrs, as Helen hadn’t seen it before.

And then it was back to the car, food shopping and home.

Am I Really Still In Crawley

The weekends come so quickly in lockdown, and it is Saturday again before we know it. Snow is promised for the weekend, so when it looks like reasonable weather outside, we decide to head out for a walk again. Apart from the three pubs drinks have been partaken in, which we will pass on our route, it is another part of Crawley that I haven’t walked around. And the Tinsley Green and Fernhill areas are parts of Crawley that most wouldn’t even realise fall under Crawley Borough Council’s remit.

We park up near Charlie’s (in Manor Royal, not the home of the Scooby Burger at Three Bridges Station), and walk the hundred or so yards away from where we were heading to the Grade II listed building tucked away in Manor Royal – Little Orchards.

Originally from the sixteenth century, it has been built on and extended at various points since then, and it has a nice end chimney that leans at an interesting angle.

A quick turn about follows, and we turn onto Radford Road and go over the railway and down to the Greyhound.

A locally listed building from the 1930’s, it is famous for holding the world marble championships, to which there is not only a Blue Plaque on its walls, but also a red Famous Grouse one as well.

We walk around the side and into Tinsley Green around the back of it. Up on the first floor at the back is what looks to be a series of marquee type tent structures, as if they are preparing the area to be a balcony area when they can eventually reopen some time in the late spring early summer.

Next to the pub is Greyhound Cottage, another locally listed building, this one dating from the 1780s.

On the other side of the rough track that is Tinsley Green is Cherrytree Cottage, a Grade II listed building dating from the seventeenth century.

We walk up to the end of the track getting there as a train breaks the silence running north just in front of us. There are a lot of nice houses here and two to our left as we turn and head back to the main road are Newbridge and Zell cottages, originally from the 18th century, but altered since, they are weatherboarded and have slate roofs.

A new footpath can be seen heading across what is left of the fields behind Tinsley Green, over towards Forge Wood, but we head straight ahead along Radford Road, and on the west side of it, the side without any pavements are three Grade II listed buildings in a row.

First up is Brookside, from the mid seventeenth century,

Then it is Oldlands Farm House, which dates from the early seventeenth century, although it looks more modern.

Finally, is Radford Farmhouse. Older than its two neighbours, it is from the sixteenth century, thought specifically from the 1550s. It is the second of two remaining thatched cottages in Crawley, following on from Green Lane Old Cottage that we had walked past and written about two weeks ago.

The rest of Radford Road has a mish mash of styles of houses and bungalows in varying states of upkeep. Halfway along this stretch is one house named Border Cottage, which going back just over thirty years ago would have been an accurate description as the border to Surrey would have been here until it was reset in 1990 to include all the land west of the M23 and south of the M23 spur to Gatwick Airport (and the Airport itself) within Crawley Borough Council and so into West Sussex.

We turn onto Balcombe Road heading north, passing a whole line of what look to be 1930s builds, mainly gated, I suppose mansions would be an accurate term. The one that stands out amongst the long stretch of house envy is the yellow one.

The houses stop and there is open land either side of the road, most of which is waterlogged, with poor soggy donkeys out in the fields trying to find a raised dry bit of land to avoid the mud pits. Empty, closed, and barricaded former airport parking runs down one side of the road, and we can see the Marriott hotel building, which unknown at this point is where we are heading. The road becomes national speed limit along here and its difficult to ascertain which is more dangerous to us, the speeding traffic flying past, or the inconsiderate, impatient joggers trying to push us into the road or ditch despite us changing to walking single file to give them space on the narrow footpath.

We turn on to Buckingham Gate, a couple of hundred yards away from where the M23 spur runs over the Balcombe Road marking the end of Crawley. To our left is the massive Schlumberger House.

Now I’m not a big fan of 1980s brick-built behemoths, but the way this one has been built, and the grounds around it landscaped makes it look an impressive structure, and as if it would be a great location to have as an office. The various terraces all have greenery growing in them, which softens the whole look of it.

Beyond the building, and in the grounds of the Marriott are the two co-joined Tudor houses that I wanted to see most of all on this walk.

Wing House, from the mid sixteenth century, it had used to be the airport staff social club until 2006.

And Edgeworth House, slightly older from c1520s.

Both sit surrounded by paths and landscaping for the hotel, but both have the appearance of being criminally neglected.

I’m not sure who owns the buildings, but it would appear to be the hotel, seeing as Edgeworth House is rammed full of unused tables and chairs; and if so then I can’t understand why they aren’t a) taking better care of the fabric of the buildings (broken windows, peeling paintwork etc), and b) making full use of their history.

I know that there are a lot of hoops to jump through to use statutory listed buildings for any new purpose, but there are plenty of examples where it has been done to great effect in other parts of the country. Not only that but tourists, especially Americans would lap the Tudor history perspective up.

Mini rant over.

We head back out to Balcombe Road and turn south until we get to Fernhill Road and head along into Fernhill hamlet. The first buildings we come to are those of Fern Court Farm, where this nineteenth century brick barn is adjoined by more modern and more ramshackle buildings.

Further along is the wonderfully named Donkey Lane along which are two Grade II listed cottages. The first of which is the imaginatively named Old Cottage dating from the late seventeenth / early eighteenth century, and which is undergoing running repairs.

And then further along is Lilac Cottage, a bit more modern, dating as it does from the late eighteenth century.

Just to the left of the junction Fernhill Road has with Peeks Brook Lane is the former Baptist Touchwood Chapel, a locally listed building, which still shows its cross and date (1885) on the gable, but is now a private house.

We walk up to the end of Peeks Brook Lane, passing as we do Poplars, a nineteenth century locally listed building whose photo I thought I’d taken wasn’t on my camera; and the final resting place of the Anthill Mob’s charabanc.

The lane carries on under the M23 spur, and the hundred yards or so from under the bridge to the point where it changes from road to track sees the council responsible for it change from Crawley to Tandridge and then to Reigate and Banstead. If I were Usain Bolt, I could be in three council’s jurisdictions in ten seconds, but I’m not, and I don’t bother. Instead, we head back south and pass Gatwick House.

Originally from the 1870s it has its castellated clock tower; it was extended in the early twentieth century in a neo-Georgian style and has been extended substantially since then in a variety of styles. Next to it is Royal Oak House, a grand 1880s house and substantial grounds which again inexplicably I don’t appear to have the photos I was sure I’d taken of it. A road disappears to the east over the motorway and on the other side of it are the Pullcotts Farm Cottages, two brick-built cottages of uncertain age, but are probably at least nineteenth century.

Just before the main road (the modern Antlands Lane) is the old Antlands Lane, well the western part of it as the old road was cut in two by the coming of the motorway. At the end before the fence for the motorway, in the distance along its drive is Teziers Farmhouse, a Grade II listed building from the seventeenth century with additions from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

We head back towards Balcombe Road, taking a last detour in Fernhill to get some views of Burstow Hall, a locally listed building from the mid nineteenth century, formerly part of Burstow parish until the re-bordering in 1990, when it was absorbed by Crawley. We had caught glimpses of it as we’d walked down Peeks Brook Lane, and from the neighbouring garden centre. It is another impressive structure hidden away from all but the most inquisitive eyes.

On Balcombe Road we cross over Radford Road and have another flurry of locally listed buildings. To the east of the road is the Cottage in the Wood, built in the 1930s in the picturesque style.

Then there is the Parson’s Pig. The back has had the hotel added in an attempt at a sympathetic style, but it is the front old pub part of the building from the nineteenth century in the Arts and Crafts style that gets the listing.

And a little bit further along is the eighteenth century The Open Door, its upper story dark weatherboarding and slate roof all that can be seen behind the substantial hedge.

I miss the path that would have taken me towards the Grade II listed Toovies Farmhouse as we carried on along Balcombe Road, with the old-style house on the corner with Steers Lane on one side

And this lovely green house on the other.

Then we are at Heathy Ground Farmhouse, now a pub, but a Grade II listed building (see what could be done with one if they put their mind to it for Wing and Edgeworth houses), from the sixteenth century with a nineteenth century wing added.

We cross over and into the woods along a new winding path added as part of the build of Forge Wood phase two.

The crematorium building can be seen through the trees to the south as we walk along and pop out amongst the new builds of Forge Wood. I take a few snaps of road signs, not knowing if there is a theme going on here, but I have some now with the very fetching magenta coloured Forge Wood name. Although there looks like there could be some naming controversies going on already as part of the district name is already being peeled from some of the signs.

Out of new build land we are on Steers Lane and as we approach its junction with Radford Road, we pass the last of the listed buildings for the day, the Grade II listed Tinsley Farmhouse from the eighteenth century, and its ramshackle wooden outbuilding.

From here it is a stagger back up over the railway track and into Manor Royal and to the car. My fatbit had had an exciting day buzzing my arm to notify me of 10,00 steps (my daily target), and the first time I’d hit 20,000 and 25,000 in a day since getting it. It may be glad, though I’m not sure my knees feel the same way. They will get a few days off before the next route march as snow stops play.

Picture laden version is on my Medium pages at the link below.

A Pint of the Black Stuff

Another day, another wander around Crawley. I’ve been living in Crawley for nearly fifteen years, and this is the first time I’m going to be walking around Broadfield. I’ve been to the Barton a few times, but always on the bus.

This time I walk down to K2 and then across the road and behind the line of trees in to Broadfield Park. A lovely space hidden away only by the trees down the side of the dual carriageway, something I’ve missed the countless times. And across the park is Broadfield House, a wonderful Grade II listed building from the 1830s and extended thirty years later.

It feels hidden away again, and in many of the walks I’ve done in the last year, searching out historic buildings there is a common theme in that they are at the periphery of our vision. It makes me think of China Mieville’s “The City And The City”, where we are almost trained not to see the old historic parts of Crawley as the residents of Beszel are conditioned not to see Ul Qoma which shares the same space. There is an expectation that, as a new town, there is no history in Crawley; something I was probably guilty of thinking when I moved here.

I moved on from Broadfield House and made my way over to Woodmans Hill, snapping away at more road signs, and I walk up the hill with a long high red brick wall on the other side of the road until there was a gap and a road into the estate behind the wall. I was particularly after more road signs and this area had a number of London based names.

What I didn’t know was that this whole estate lying between Woodmans Hill and Coachmans Drive is a Guinness Trust estate, which did explain the naming of Guinness Court, and other names where the roads in this mini estate aren’t named after London Parks: Kensington, St James, Regents, Hampstead, Finsbury & Highgate (a park now overshadowed by its more famous cemeteries next to it). I spent quite some time wandering around trying to find a sign for London Fields House, only to find a map of the estate on its estate community centre which indicated where it should be, only for me to find that it has been renamed as Newfield House.

Stonebridge is both the name of a London estate which is also called Park Royal; and that estate was the home of a Guinness Brewery from 1936 to 2005 before the building was demolished in 2006.

Moyne was the title of the Barony awarded to Walter Guinness in 1932. He was the third son of the 1st Earl of Iveagh (in County Down), Sir Benjamin Guinness, who set up the Guinness Trust in 1888 in London (and the Iveagh Trust in Dublin in 1890).  

The roads into the estate come in from either side, but there is no through way from any of the four roads into any of the others. The way through is by footpaths only, built this way it seems less busy with traffic. The estate has the air of being tightly packed, despite the numerous little green spaces and courtyard type areas throughout. I suppose part of this comes from the signs affixed to walls near the spaces stating, “NO BALL GAMES”, which is a shame for those children who live there.

I’ve walked through a lot of parts of Crawley, and I’ve gotten some strange looks as I take photos of road signs, but I got some hostile looks as I walked around the footpaths of the estate carrying my camera ready to take photos. I definitely felt like I was intruding, and the residents were suspiciously asking what this stranger was doing in their domain. It probably didn’t help that I’d doubled back and re-trod some roads two or three times trying to find the pictures I wanted.

Once I had satisfied myself in the Guinness Trust estate, I crossed over Coachmans Drive and into an area where the signs were all about areas of London, and royal palaces and castles, starting at Enfield and working around to Fulham before coming out at Holyrood Place.

From here I wanted to get pictures of the church – Christ The Lord, a multi denominational church, that apart from the cross on the roof is hard to mark as a church, it is in such a style, that it could easily be mistaken as a school, library, or community centre, and so merges into two such buildings next to it.

Having walked around the church I now found myself on Broadfield Barton. I had thought Tilgate Parade as being the largest in Crawley, and it probably is if looking at it a single row, but the Barton is bigger, being more of a normal shopping street with shops on both side of the walkway for one half and the single aspect overlooking the car park. I was surprised how busy the Barton was, both in the number of people wandering around in it, but also in how many shops were open along it.

At the end is The Imperial, closed as it should be in these Covid lockdown. I think it is the only pub in Crawley I haven’t had a drink in (not including those shut or demolished before I lived here). And if I mention it, it seems to elicit a sharp intake of breath about going in there. Which makes me smile as I’ve had some really dodgy locals in Leicester and Manchester before moving here.

There is something about the name The Imperial that appears to bring about an air of being a rough pub. It was the same in Leicester, where it is now closed and turned into flats; the one in Manchester could be described as “industrial” on a kind day; and the one near my mum’s in Morecambe has been shut more time than it’s been open due to drug dealing and violence.

My fatbit had shaken my arm quite some time before and being at the bus stops it put the idea of giving my aching knees a break and so I got the bus back to the top of my road instead of carrying on. There will be other days to explore other parts of Broadfield.

Picture laden version can be found on my Medium page

Do You Deliver

No, but we do chicken, lamb, and beef. Yes, it’s a terrible old joke, but the state of deliveries has turned in to a terrible new joke recently. If they were trying to shoot themselves in the foot, they would probably miss.

I sent some stuff by TNT, tightly packed and well taped up in a large cardboard box. However, as has been the case almost every day recently it was raining when they got around to delivering it. The person they were delivering it to wasn’t in, and so the TNT driver, in their infinite wisdom, thought the best place to leave the parcel was in a drain culvert. Just so they could make sure it would get thoroughly soaked through. The bottom fell out of the box when eventually picked up and the books and magazines now have that water damaged look to them.

We have been ordering delivery from Pizza Hut for Friday pizza night for months. It isn’t a tricky delivery route, and it is one their own delivery drivers do without any issues. But give it to a Deliveroo (who should be known from now on as Deliverpoo) driver and the route map looks like a kid has gone mad with a map and a red marker pen. We normally give the pizza a bit longer in the oven when it arrives to crisp it up a bit, but it needed the heat when the driver eventually got here. Parking up to bring it to the door wasn’t the end of the lunacy either. He parked randomly a few doors away and then ran around like a headless chicken to various houses on the street before eventually coming back to the open door where Helen was stood waiting for the pizza.

Saturday wasn’t much better. Fair enough, the driver from Cinnamon made it straight to the house, but they didn’t manage to get the order right. Specifically, Helen’s main. They delivered chicken and not the lamb the order they confirmed by e-mail clearly said on it. They fobbed me off with the promise of a free main next time, but Helen wasn’t having that as it isn’t the first time, they’d screwed up a delivery to us, and she got them to refund her dish instead.

I got a large heavy cardboard box delivered last week, the contents of which some of you will find impossible to believe. It was a delivery that wasn’t mired in ineptitude. It was an exercise bike. Yes exercise. Yes, a bike. A big black and red sturdy thing. Fits perfectly under the stairs. But it has been out several times, and now that I’ve finally remembered to get batteries to fit in the computer thing on it, it tells me all sorts of things about time, speed, distance, calories, and pulse rate. What it doesn’t explicitly say but has been easy to find out is I’m effing unfit, and even after a fairly easy initial session I felt a bit lightheaded, short of breath and horrible and sweaty. But on the plus side, and the reason I got it, it does seem to be helping with my aching knees. Plus, the more I use it, the easier the fifteen minutes are getting.

And this helps with the walking. Twice a week, usually once with Helen, and once by myself I’ve been going out for reasonably long walks. Long enough to get the fatbit excited and try to shake my arm off. We had a lovely walk around parts of Pound Hill and Worth the previous weekend,

then I had one around parts of Broadfield, then the pair of us walked to and around most of West Green this weekend. Taking in the same historic buildings and lots of geeky pictures of road signs. Today was another trip into Broadfield covering different parts and up to a very muddy Target Hill. The more I do it, the more I find it fascinating how they themed groups of roads as they built the new town around the old villages. I have at least another half a dozen longer walks to do to capture all I want to on film. Plus, I keep finding more things I want to capture on film. There are three walks that need writing up at some point.

I’m also doing weekly sessions on a writing course, which is concentrating in life writing, so there are some interesting pieces coming out of that. And it’s given me some impetus and I’ve done three short stories this month, which is three more that I’d managed in the previous six.

When I logged on to my work laptop yesterday morning a thought came to me as the Bitlocker screen came up asking for my password to use the laptop. It made me wonder whether a password to log onto a porn website should be called Titlocker or perhaps Bitslocker. No? Just me then.

Getting an exercise bike seems to have led to me getting one of those random mail outs where they advertise all kinds of health-related items. There were some pretty random items in there. Chairs and beds advertised as “helping the carer at home”; an instrument to lift and tone sagging necks or quadruple chins; talking weighing scales so you don’t need your spectacles to see the display, I can just imagine it when I step on “one at a time please you fat b@st@rd”; and the one that made us laugh the most – Diabetic Socks. Seriously? WTAF? How much sugar must anyone need to eat so they sweat out enough to turn their socks diabetic? Anyway, the catalogue had one more item that wasn’t health related that they thought they might be able to tempt me into getting, a manual typewriter. Yes, there is a cool retro thing going on there, especially for a budding writer; however, as it costs more than it would cost to buy a laptop, I don’t think that it’s going to be a goer. Plus, these posts would just be pictures of what I’d typed up onto sheets of paper.

And the less said about the shower of shit #MourinhoOut keeps mismanaging the better. Although the downturn in form and results seems to have coincided with getting additional kit sponsorship from Cinch – yes those muppets with the uber annoying adverts with the x-factor reject. It would serve the club right if there is a direct link.

Another Crawley Stroll

It’s another Saturday afternoon in lockdown v3. For once it isn’t pouring down with rain and there appears to be some bright little yellow thing in the sky. It’s time for a walk, and it’s a little bit further afield than bordering Southgate. I’ve got a little loop of Pound Hill and Worth in mind.

I used to live in Pound Hill for six years or so, and during these years, on the whole, it would appear that I walked around with my eyes closed, blind to the kind of buildings there were dotted around and the history that is around if only I’d open them. It’s bizarre that until about three years ago I was completely blind to Crawley’s history, even after twelve or so years living here. Especially as someone who trained up to be a blue badge guide in Leicester when I lived there.

And so we’re at Pound Hill parade to start a wander. We head out the side between the Co-op and launderette onto Crawley Lane. So obviously the original road out to Turner’s Hill when you look on the map, and that can be picked up by looking at the buildings along its length. A number of them are so much older than the parade behind them, and the estate to the south of it. I had done some wandering in the summer, taking pictures of churches, pubs and road signs in this area, but I’d ignored the houses on Crawley Lane.

Two in particular are on the list of locally listed buildings. Numbers 6-8 are a couple of weatherboarded cottages from the 1870s.

And Woodcote Cottage further up the slight incline is again weatherboarded, and is older, being from the 1840s.

I couldn’t help myself and took a detour onto Mount Close, doing a lap of the triangle. This was the only place in Pound Hill I ever used to take any notice of when I lived in Wakehams Green. I would deliberately detour through it from Crawley Lane to the far corner and the narrow path onto the Balcombe Road just below The Hillside. It is full of a glorious array of beautiful houses. It is my aspirational place to live in Crawley if I ever win the lottery; ideally one of the four houses that back on to the moat on the far side of it. It is a wonderful oasis away from the more modern builds across most of the town.

We complete the loop and carry on up Crawley Lane, popping out on the Balcombe Road opposite the multi listed Worth Training Centre complex, and head up Turners Hill Road. I had noted this area back in the Autumn, and wasn’t going to rehash this stretch, and so turned into Ashurst Drive and into the battle ground where road signs are concerned. This triangle with Turners Hill Road to the North, Balcombe Road to the west and the motorway to the east has road signs that show the battle between the council and residents for how the road signs should be named.

The Worth Way cuts through the middle, with the streets to the north having the yellow signs of Pound Hill, and those to the south having the dark blue of Maidenbower. Yet most have or have had stickers over the top of the original areas with Worth printed on them, with some of them showing the signs where attempts have been made to peel them off.

Crossing the Worth Way, which is currently showing signs of looking more like a river than a railway, we head to the Worth Conservation Area, and the stretch down from Church Road to St Nicholas’ Church, where there are more listed buildings than not.

On the corner is the Toll House (which was Worth’s toll house), and next to it is the Rectory.

Straight in front of us as we walk along is Street House, a former inn from the seventeenth century.

And as we draw closer to it the lychgate to the churchyard appears,

itself a listed building, and the entrance in to the church itself, one of only three Grade 1 listed buildings in Crawley.

I have passed the church quite a few times on walks, but this is only the second time I’ve been through the Lychgate. Part of me regrets not having brought a camera on that previous visit, as the spire is scaffolded with blue netting around it, and the wonderful inside is not open to visitors in these covid times.

There is a new (well to me anyway) area laid out to the back of the churchyard which looks like it would be a great place for quiet and reflection, especially on a sunny afternoon.

After taking photographs of the outside of the church from every angle, and vistas of the gravestones, which have a higher than expected incidence of Celtic crosses, and only a lone Victorian era angel, we walk across the front of Street House and onto the Worth Way, not making it across the motorway, but instead heading on the narrow and muddy footpath through to Saxon Road, where it is time for some more street sign snapping, getting the Saxon kings named in this little area.

The little sub estate is full of large modern builds, but somehow they feel dark and it is noisy; the wooden fences on the raised bank do little to reduce the constant hum of vehicles speeding along the motorway behind it.

From here we cross the Worth Way, although the railway would have headed on across the motorway in days gone by, the footpath doesn’t, and steps up to the now ground level mark the end of where the council want you to walk. The other side towards the railway really is a stream at the moment.

We are back into Pound Hill now and a little cluster of “Hurst” roads, with two of them leading to the very infrequently used suffix of Keeps.

On Turners Hill Road we head back towards town, passing Caxtons before the pavement runs out and forces us to cross the road. We cross back again at the old school building, with it being closed and a weekend I take a couple of photos of it, the only safe time to take photos of school buildings in these accusatory times.

Back on to Church Road we head along to just before the Worth Way and head along Green Lane, where another listed building (the imaginatively named) Green Lane Old Cottage, from the seventeenth century it is one of only two thatched cottages in Crawley.

Crossing back over Balcombe Road we take the footpath in front of us through to Blackwater Lane, another road with large impressive houses, carrying on to Banks Road and onto The Bower. We can see the footpath that is the Worth Way in front of us, but it is another listed building I came here to see.

Blackwater Cottage from the late seventeenth / early eighteenth century is just about visible through the trees  and bushes at this time of year (I’d imagine it wouldn’t be visible much at all during the full bloom of summer).

On the other side of The Bower are two more large modern houses, ones that I remember from passing lots of times, they had always taken my attention from the older and more impressive building behind the trees. They seem darker than I remember, and the dream of living in one of these is perhaps one I’m glad didn’t come true.

It’s time to head home, and so we turn and wander back to Pound Hill parade through the streets named after Sussex castles. On the parade the last thing I note is that the old hardware store is gone, but on the plus side the new store there still deals with nails.

The picture laden version of this can be found on my Medium page at the link below.