Fiddlesticks’ 2006 May Tour to Sussex

Our fourth May Tour saw two minibuses heading out of Norwich early one Saturday morning, bound for Sussex. To add extra interest this year, John had devised a quiz, comprising questions where the answers could be found en route. (As it turned out, most of the dancers were far too busy dancing to have time to look for the answers.)

Anyway, some motorway miles later, we found ourselves in the heart of the Sussex Weald, where the Dragon at Colgate had kindly agreed to open early to refresh us with coffee before we warmed up with an initial set of dances.

Then on to Storrington, a charming village nestling at the foot of the Downs, where there was a shop selling lovely sticky Danish pastries. A couple of sessions’ dancing here was followed by a browse through the books on a mobile book stall and a stroll alongside the river back to the buses.

On to Amberley and lunch, long overdue for most of us who had been up since 5:30am. After lunch at the Bridge, space was cleared on the patio for some more dancing (what, straight after lunch?) while non-dancers sought out answers to the quiz, then we were on our way to Worthing, a Victorian watering hole. First venue: a splendid shopping square with lots of room for our “big” dances. Then round the corner for a short spot in front of the Luna Cafe, where a group of youngsters joined in with us enthusiastically.

A few more dances on the Prom followed (gosh, was it cold here!), before we made our way to The Cavendish, our hotel for the weekend. Goodness, a whole hour to recover, before wending our way back to the Luna Cafe for our evening meal. For a change, dancing for our supper was not required! Oh dear, some meal orders got lost between the restaurant and the kitchen, but I think everyone did get their food at last. Those whose orders weren’t lost had to fill in the time with a jolly wine (and beer) tasting.

Sunday dawned fair and the early birds ventured down the beach for a paddle. Some of the previous night’s wine tasters weren’t quite so jolly this morning. Never mind, a few dances for the benefit of the hotel staff and a group photo soon blew the cobwebs away.

First stop today – Arundel, dancing outside Hughie’s sandwich shop, incidentally the source of our packed lunches to take to our next venue, the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton. Plenty to explore here, and plenty of time allowed to do just that, in between our dance sessions.

All this dancing and playing was thirsty work, so off to the first pub of the day, the Fox Goes Free at Charlton. Apparently there was a quiz clue relating to this, although most people had by now quite forgotten about the quiz, or had missed so many clues it wasn’t worth continuing with it. Time for a welcome drink before yet more dancing. Only one more venue to go today, the Sportsman at Amberley. This time we did have to dance for our supper.

Monday morning dawned, and after packing all our luggage into the buses it was off to Brighton. Here we danced beside the sea outside the Fisherman’s Museum before strolling to the Royal Pavilion Gardens. Yet more dancing.

Then we made our way to Ditchling Beacon, a local beauty spot commanding impressive views of the countryside for miles around. One minibus, on the pretext of missing the turning, went directly to the lunch stop. The brave occupants of the other bus, although depleted in number, entertained a small but enthusiastic audience with an adaptation of Churchtown before also heading for a well-deserved lunch at the Bull Inn in Ditchling.

We had now almost reached the end of the Tour. Final stop was Wakehurst Place, the 170-acre country home of Kew Gardens and home of the Millennium Seed Bank. Not a great deal of time to explore, but lovely shrubs and flowers to see as we walked to our dance spots.

Totting up the correct quiz answers revealed Hazel to be the winner. Congratulations! Then it was back to the buses to tackle the M25 for our journey back to Norwich. Well done drivers!

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