‘And what short-cut would that be?’
He gave me a spousely look from beneath his bifocals. ‘How long have you lived here?’
He accompanied me to the College, pointed me towards the sign saying ‘footbridge’, and gave me a little push. Then he was gone with a squeal of wheels. Which was odd as he was on foot.
I adjusted my hydration pack and set bravely off into unchartered waters. I’d been on the Sussex Downs campus before, but only as far as the lecture room for my leaf manipulation night class. I clambered over the footbridge, feeling rather as Amundsen must have done when he, uh, went to that unexplored place no-one had been before (memo to self: next evening class must be in basic general knowledge). I fully expected to arrive slap bang in the middle of the railway land, another part of Lewes filed under ‘closed book’ but which I imagine to be like a rainforest, all hanging vines and colourful parrots. Grange Girl is of course a keen railway-land aficionado, forever giving meaningless directions that take in the Linklater Pavilion. I wouldn’t know the Linklater Pavilion if I found it in the pocket of my leaf manipulation apron.
But the footbridge took me not into a teeming jungle but rather the concrete jungle of Court Road. Even I knew (well I did after asking a lady for directions) that this leads to the back of the Riverside. And so in just a few minutes I’d traversed from leisure centre to town centre without having to slog round the station. I couldn’t have been more pleased.
To celebrate, I walked almost back to the station to visit the Charity Christmas Card shop, which is in that charmingly eccentric Light on Life place in Lansdown Place. The CCC shop is lovely. It combines being very modern, in that it appears in an new pop-up location every year, with being sweetly old-fashioned: they are the only people who say, ‘Oh goody, a cheque’ rather than, ‘On yer bike Daddio, we only take plastic.’ I chose pretty cards from worthy causes, and bought traditional unchocolated Advent calendars. Then I entered their guess the number of items in the cracker competition (I put 17 million because previous customers’ estimates were unduly pessimistic).
Then I made my way back to Court Road to recreate my mythical North-West passage across Lewes, and got hopelessly lost. Unlike Amundsen, I had my mobile and could call Man to come and rescue me. Unfortunately the only landmark I could see was the Linklater Pavilion and as only Grangey knows where that is, it took Man hours to find me. On the plus side, it was a good place to write my Christmas cards and manipulate a few leaves.
Beth Miller, 10th November 2010. Published in VivaLewes.com. Photo by Alex Leith