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WALKING: ‘The beauty is in the walking’ and there are few places that offer so much to do and see as this part of the South Downs! It has inspired poets, painters and writers from Jane Austin to Virginia Woolf and Eric Ravilious to Rudyard Kipling.

A SOUTH DOWNS ALPHABET: The South Downs National Park Authority have joined forces with an Alfriston based group called The Write House in an exciting South Downs wide competition to inspire children and the older generation to create a South Downs Alphabet. This project was inspired by the work of Eleanor Farjeon author of the rather fabulous A Sussex Alphabet. She may be better known to you for the words to the much loved hymn Morning Has Broken. Over the coming months school children and retired and semi-retired people from the University of the Third Age will write poetry about the landscapes, wildlife and people of the downs. A new book comprising of the A-Z winning entries and forming the new South Downs Alphabet will be published by the much respected (and very local) Snake River Press, alongside a beautifully illustrated reprint of Eleanor Farjeon’s original Sussex Alphabet and the delightful poem All The Way to Alfriston. If your school would like to get involved please contact me in the first instance and I will put you in touch with the organisers.

ALFRISTON TO CHICHESTER: Eleanor Farjeon’s poem All the way to Alfriston vividly describes the journey from Chichester to Alfriston. Ian Mcnulty will be doing it in reverse. He will be walking and fundraising to celebrate 60 years of The Abbeyfield Society by walking the 54 miles ‘along the running downs’ in stages. Leaving North Road on Tuesday April 5 at 10am he will walk the 10.5 miles to Southease and is inviting all comers and their dogs to wave him off or even better join for all or part of that stage. The other stages will take place over the following days, finishing in Chichester on Saturday April 9. Please contact Pauline on 871767 or abbeyfieldalfriston@gmail.com if you would like to join in.

LABYRINTH FESTIVAL: If a shorter and more contemplative trail is more up your street then a Labyrinth may suit. Labyrinths are a symbol of the journey of life and have been set out for man to follow in many forms for centuries. The Alfriston Labyrinth will be a meadow flowered trail, cut into the grass between St Andrews and the river. The Labyrinth festival running from June 11 to 18 will open the labyrinth for all to enjoy and bring together professional artists, singers, actors, choirs, musicians and a variety of local groups in a programme of performances, workshops, talks and specially written works. Walking a labyrinth is a form of quiet contemplation. It offers stillness in a busy world and the experience of the walk is different for everyone: mindful, prayerful, creative, or simply fun. To walk the labyrinth all that is needed of you is yourself. All proceeds will go to St Andrews Restoration.

BROCHURE: Alfriston and Cuckmere Brochure. Every explorer needs a map and the 2016 brochure comes complete with two fold out maps and is excitingly in a booklet form. Hurrah no more struggling to hold on to it when The Spirit of the Downs blows up. There is also a page and a half of events listed so a busy year ahead for the village and surrounding area. Thank you to the Alfriston Events Team for putting this together and for all the businesses who are advertised in it. The print run for 2016 is 30,000 and it can be collected from a shop, pub, hotel or tourist information board near you.

MEMOIR: Juliet Nicholson’s eagerly awaited memoir A House Full of Daughters is receiving critical acclaim in the run up to publication. Much Ado Books invite you to join her in the lovely Garden Suite at Deans Place Hotel on Thursday April 28 for a reading and fascinating exploration of family life and recurring patterns. Tracing seven generations of strong talented and sometimes down-trodden women, the women (including her grandmother Vita Sackville West) of her extraordinary family emerge for Juliet as people in their own right, but also as part of who she is and where she has come from. Tickets cost £10, and include a voucher offering £5 off the £16.99 book, copies available on the night. Tickets sell out fast so contact them on 01323 871222 or purchase online at http://www.muchadobooks.com/juliet-nicolson.php

WI: Members were treated to an excellent talk by Gillian Lloyd entitled Wild Life Begins at 50. Her love of wildlife photography began when she went on an African safari, and her audience were shown breath-taking examples of her photographs, not only of the usual birds and mammals but also stunning shots of bugs and insects. She is now a professional and award-winning photographer. Members have promised cake for refreshments for the launch of St Andrews Restoration on April 9 (thank you, thank you, thank you. The village will be spared my baking). A number of excursions are planned including a lunch in Eastbourne and a visit to the Little Theatre in Seaford. The next meeting entitled A Patchwork Afternoon will be on Tuesday April 19 at 2pm Old Chapel Centre. Visitors are welcome.

ST ANDREWS FESTIVAL: St Andrew’s Restoration and Arts, Crafts, History and Music Festival update. April 9, St Andrews Church, the War Memorial Hall, the Heritage Centre at the Gun Room on the Tye. 10am to 5pm. A celebration of the working life of this South Downs village and the surrounding valley. Try your hand at a new craft (including patchwork quilt making), sign up for walks, tours, workshops. All details are now available on the village website and posters will be up soon http://www.alfriston-village.co.uk/#!alfriston-restoration/suihf

EASTER WEEKEND ACTIVITY: Today (Friday) Clergy House 10.30am to 4.30pm, Cadbury sponsored bunny trail. If you cannot make it over the Easter Weekend, you will be able to follow the trail until April 3. See their website for opening times and admission http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/alfriston-clergy-house. Tomorrow, Saturday, the cricket club will be holding a coffee morning, Alfriston War Memorial Hall 10am to noon with stalls, tombola, books, bric-a-brac. All invited. Easter Sunday, 11am Holy Communion Service. All Welcome.

AND FINALLY: I found a lovely quote from Peter Owen Jones to accompany his Pathland Book. The Wonder of Walking. It stills the mind, rejuvenates the body and allows us to connect our inner and outer world. Walking is so much more than getting from A to B. There are so many trails to enjoy this weekend however if you wish to walk for charity there is a Family Support Work walk taking place on Easter Monday starting at 10am in the enchanted place that is Ashdown Forest. For registration and sponsorship forms call 01273 832963.

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