Sussex Sojourn Part Two: Monk’s House, Berwick Church and Cricket At 1st Central County Ground Hove, 28 July 2017

It’s a small miracle that I could still sit…

Janie was inspired to see some more of the Blooomsbury trail Day Two, although we hadn’t planned it, following our very pleasurable afternoon at Charleston Day One. Specifically, Monk’s House (Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Sussex home), found its way onto Janie’s radar.

Actually, when we rose at the Hotel Una that morning, I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to do anything that day; the mattress had been so soft and uncomfortable that my back and neck felt well crocked. Possibly the worst hostelry mattress I have encountered since my 2006 nightmare experience in a half way house posing as a hotel on The Bristol Road, Edgbaston.

Janie was not well pleased with the deep-stained bed linen either, so got to task with the sweet staff, who swapped our mattress over and adorned the better mattress with clean linen ahead of our second night.

I heaped praise on my former geography teacher, Mike Jones, for helping us to find the Hotel Una a couple of years ago, so now he needs to share the blame for the Una’s apparent decline since then. A reputable former geography teacher should be able to predict the timing of a hostelry’s decline and forewarn you, no?

Monk’s House doesn’t open until lunchtime, which unfortunately coincided with the weather forecast’s prediction of heavy showers in Sussex. Still, showers can be dodged on a visit to a house and garden, so we resolved to follow the test match in the morning and go off towards Lewes as soon as lunch was called at The Oval.

Monk’s House is very different from Charleston. It must have been a far more orderly place back in the day and is now a National Trust run place. However, unlike Charleston, we were allowed to take pictures inside…

Is that a baroq-ulele I see in the tapestry?

…but understandably there are rules, such as “no food and drink inside” and “don’t touch things or place stuff on things”.

One couple who entered just after us seemed hell bent on breaking every one of the rules within 30 seconds of arrival, sending the charming but bossy volunteer/guide lady into fits of polite reprimand.

Leonard Woolf looks on disapprovingly

On chatting with that same lady later, Janie and I were also reprimanded, but in our case for going to Charleston without visiting the Berwick Church, which the lady swore was the very best example of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s work. “You simply MUST go”, she said.

“Is that an instruction?”, I asked.  “Yes, absolutely”, she said, “even if you say on TripAdvisor that I am the most terrible bossy-boots…I’m telling you, you really MUST see that Church”.

Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf’s house-minder? Me. I thought we’d better conform and go to church. Initially I  thought maybe tomorrow on the way home, but actually Monk’s House is quite small, so I started quietly plotting a reasonably rapid exit from Monk’s, after seeing the garden; we should still have plenty of time to go back out Charleston way to the church and then back to Brighton/Hove for the cricket match.

Virginia Woolf’s Writing Lodge in the Garden at Monk’s House
The Woolfs (Wolves?) played bowls regularly in their garden, apparently
Leonard Woolf remembered in the garden
Monk’s House as seen from the garden

We did a good job of dodging the showers while in the Monk’s Garden and worried less about those as we headed off to Berwick Church – click here for the church website, pictures of and information on all the murals.

I must say, the charming but bossy guide lady at Monk’s House was absolutely right – the Berwick Church murals are wonderful and well worth seeing.

Just a few examples

In particular, I thought Duncan Grant’s work in this church is extraordinarily powerful and well done.

Well worth the visit

All the photographs for this trip, including those shown in the blog pieces and many more besides, can be found on the Flickr album here.

We got back to the hotel in good time to get ready to go out to the cricket. The weather improved and we were both chuffed to bits to discover that Toby Roland-Jones had taken three wickets in his first spell on test match debut at the Oval, while we were driving…and then a fourth which we saw on the TV when we got back to the hotel.

The weather improved enough for us to brave the walk from the hotel to the Hove cricket ground; a very pleasant walk it was too.

The Hove Pavilion Board Room

The Sussex CCC hospitality was warm, friendly and informal; ideal for a T20 match. To make matters better, the match even started on time:

But the weather forecast was iffy to say the least and after a while the brollies went up…Middlesex were not doing so well at that point.

Not the late July weather we had been hoping for
At least we can stay dry in here

The match resumed for a while and Middlesex’s fortunes improved after the resumption, with fours and sixes punctuated with flames,which Janie took great pains to capture on camera:

But then the rain returned and remained until the match was abandoned. Here is a link to the scorecard. Then it stopped raining again so Janie and I could walk back to the hotel.

We hadn’t seen much cricket, but we had enjoyed a very convivial evening in good company.

We were both in very good spirits; we’d had two very enjoyable days sojourning in Sussex.

A Quieter Couple of Weeks, Ending in Gastro Bistro, Clapham, 6 July 2008

After the wonderful yet strange evening in Uxbridge 24 June, a quieter couple of weeks before the next excitement.

25 June

There was an England v New Zealand ODI at the Oval, which I didn’t attend but I was able to catch the end of it on the TV after work. The scorecard – click here – reveals how close the game was but does not reveal the controversy over Collingwood’s captaincy after he insisted, against the advice of the umpires, on progressing a run out appeal in unusual circumstances, against Grant Elliot – the Kiwis went on to win the match anyway. The Sussex v Middlesex match that evening seemed tame by way of comparison; I’m pretty sure I listened to most of it:

27 June

The last T20 group match was at the Oval against Surrey. I know I missed it completely, because Daisy and I were taken out for dinner by Jamil and Souad – I’m pretty sure we went to Noura in Belgravia, but Daisy’s diary should confirm or deny when we get around to checking.

28 June

The diary simply says “dinner”, so I suspect that Janie and I stayed in to celebrate her birthday that year. Again, the Daisy diary might contain some additional, vital details.

4 July

Following a working week that looked quite light on meetings and evening engagements, but did include another Z/Yen Boat Trip on the Wednesday, on the Friday, I took a day out at Uxbridge. Middlesex were hosting the visiting South Africans in a warm-up match.

I wrote quite a lengthy report for MTWD on that day – click here.

Here is the scorecard from that tour match.

6 July

A relatively quiet weekend culminating in a lunch out with my mum at Gastro in Clapham. I had not seen this Jay Rayner review – click here – when I booked it.

It seems to divide opinion on TripAdvisor too – click here.

Actually, Janie and I rather liked the place, but I do recall that the Sunday menu was not quite as advertised and in any case the dishes on offer were of an kind unfamiliar to mum, who got a bit shirty about it all.

I’m not too sure how the matter got resolved but I seem to recall the lunch event being salvaged somehow, I think through some good staff making appropriate amounts of fuss around mum and looking after her nicely. Or did we move on to another place to get that fuss? Janie might remember.

I do recall resolving not to book such a place again for mum – the familiar “old-fashioned Italian or French bistro” places she’d been to before being the best bet for her now. Oh well.



…and the Next one Please – a Smaller Works Outing to Middlesex v Sussex at Lord’s, 19 June 2008

I’m not sure what possessed us to set up three of these outings for this season – see my earlier comments about Middlesex’s dire T20 performance in previous years. Perhaps Jez and/or I sensed something pre-season. Or perhaps all the home match dates just happened to fall on good days for me/us.

The only news on the wires about other attendees is covered in this e-mail exchange. Jez to me:

I asked Christiano about the cricket yesterday but he has a meeting with one of the directors from Italy. I then asked Rafael (the building manager downstairs). He said he’d like to come, but probably won’t be able to leave here until 5…

Me to Jez:

Rafael will be fine – just make sure that he has his quota of booze with him and that he is able to aproximeet with us…

Glad to see I was getting my priorities right. Not sure who else, if anyone, joined us that day – I suspect one or two others from the office.

Five wins out of five – you couldn’t/wouldn’t make it up – scorecard? – click here.

The potential for hubris was setting in with jonnyboy, though, who describes Sussex as hapless in his match report – click here.

I remember very little about this one, Jez might help. Or might not.