By Jamie Day | Published on 12 April 2019
For some unknown reason, when it comes to family days out or short breaks, we’ve always been drawn to the south of England. I don’t really know why, but there must be something in the sea air swirling in from the English Channel that pulls us in that direction, because in the last few years we’ve made regular trips to towns and villages in Kent, East and West Sussex and Dorset. We could quite easily head elsewhere, but our internal sat-navs seem to default to the south.
One town on our to-do list has always been Lewes –handily just over an hour from central London by train. Even before kids and everyone getting day trip ideas from the location tag on Instagram, my wife and I wanted to have a day wondering Lewes’ hilly streets. Known for its antique shops and a castle for the kids to climb, it’s always sounded like an idyllic place to visit, yet we’ve never actually made it.
I guess one thing that’s put us off is the car journey. It’s not actually that far in terms of miles, but our route requires multiple motorways which more often than not means multiple traffic jams, speed restrictions and roadworks – not a lot of fun for anyone, especially for kids who won’t hesitate to let you know they’re bored, need the loo or are hungry. Despite loving Brighton which is near Lewes, the last time we drove there it took us over three hours to get home. I think the kids’ whining is still ringing in my ears months later.
But with some new positivity thanks to the recent change in the weather, as the gloom of winter slowly evaporated into the fresh Spring air, we decided enough was enough, we were finally going to head to Lewes.
So, we packed up everything for a day out (coats, toys, books, drinks, snacks, the dogs, the kitchen sink) and headed to Lewes from Clapham on the train, putting my #LineResidents role for Southern Rail to good use.
The journey ran smoothly as the kids took the opportunity to draw, read and wrestle (sorry to the lady sitting behind us), the dogs snoozed by our feet and my wife and I enjoyed a coffee and the views whizzing by outside.
This was our first trip as a family since my line residency with Southern began earlier this year, and it was nice to appreciate a transformation in pace to our usual family days out. There was no rush, no panic to beat traffic or any need to fight it out for the fastest moving lane in a near-stationary jam. It was a relief knowing there was no reason for the kids to complain about being bored, needing the loo or being hungry – all their needs were met on board.
Once in Lewes, we wandered the streets, took in some of its famed antique shops (plus Argos!), enjoyed a pizza lunch and rounded it all off with a trip to the castle. Similar to our subconscious pull to head in a southerly direction as a family, once in Lewes, there’s a definite subconscious pull to head in the direction of the castle – it just feels like the logical place to go seeing as it’s the number one attraction.
That said, we didn’t get an opportunity to explore the whole town (it’s quite hilly and the kids’ little legs will only go so fast), so if you’re heading to Lewes I think the more interesting part of town is actually away from the castle, at the bottom of the main hill and over the river. This is where you’ll find a long row of antique stores, coffee shops, pubs and a bit more of a ‘vibe.’
It was a lovely day, and a lovely town and one we can finally tick off our to-visit list.
Now, where to next? *looks on map and tries to remember that there are places north, east and west*