December 25th, 2019


Mary who lives in the gatehouse cottage came round with a Christmas card yesterday morning. We told her we were going to lunch in Blackboys and she didn't know where it was.  I was incredulous at the time but afterwards thought, no, we're the ones who are odd because Blackboys is nearly twenty miles away, in the next county...

Most people who had chosen to go out for lunch on Christmas Eve would have gone somewhere local- but we- as a matter of course- went elsewhere. It's not that there aren't excellent pubs and restaurants nearby it's just that.... well, I don't know, really. Again, most people round here who fancy a bit of shopping head into Tunbridge Wells whereas we avoid Tunbridge Wells because it isn't friendly and drive 20 miles or more to either Lewes or Hastings.

Lewes and Hastings are our home towns- or that's how it feels- but actually they're not. Not geographically, anyway.

Blackboys is a hamlet named after its pub- which as been there since the Middle Ages (at least). It's near Uckfield and we pass through it on the way to Lewes. I don't know why I like it so much. The food is good but that's not the real reason.

The original blackboys were the charcoal burners who plied their trade in the Weald when it was still a wildwood. Perhaps I was one of them, once...

Anyway, we had Sussex smokies for starters. We'd never had them before. I was expecting something along the lines of an Arbroath smokie but a Sussex smokie is basically smoked haddock in a cheese sauce. Sidney Smith said his idea of Heaven was eating foie gras to the sound of trumpets. Now if you substituted a Sussex smokie for the foie gras and
- actually- who needs trumpets anyway; nasty noisy things...

Happy Christmas!

Alabaster carving from Holy Trinity, Long Melford, Suffolk