So here it is, one little place for things to do in, and within an hour of, our little place: Lewes, the county town of East Sussex in England.
Little Lewes is for people who live here and people who visit. It’s for those with children, and can also be used by those without.
It’s also for me, as an ode to the town that constantly reminds me how lucky I am to have chosen it as the place to raise my family.
I am a freelance writer, content creator and editor who works from my home in Lewes. This is the blog I’ve been meaning to start since moving to here three-and-a-half years ago.
Before we arrived, I searched in vain online for things to do with my then-one-year-old son. I knew there was good reason why young families moved to Lewes (we were!), but there was – and still is – a real lack of information.
Groups? There was nothing online.
Classes? Again, nothing obvious.
Activities? I had to dig deep.
Events? It was patchy.
It was even hard to find out about the town’s nurseries.
Admittedly the biggies – the attractions – were easy to find. The Drusillas, the Spring Barn Farms, the Bluebell Railways… But beaches off the beaten track? Secret picnic spots? Low-key attractions? Free things to do? Pubs with playgrounds AND decent food? Bluebell woodland walks?
Three years on and we’ve been on some amazing adventures. But most of the places we’ve discovered are thanks to conversations with friends.
I’ve since had another baby boy, who is now one. My older boy – now four-and-a-half – will start school in three months. We’re down to our last three months of the three of us doing things together during the week. I feel the need to make it count (*working-parent-guilt-self-flagellation*).
Once he starts, I’ll be back to dreaming up stimulating stuff to do for a toddler who thus-far hasn’t required much of it (because of being a baby, that is), and who has had the older one along for entertainment. I’ll be back to visiting the places I started uncovering three years ago, remembering which I loved and why.
And at weekends, we’ll have to think creatively – we’ll have a five-year-old and an 18-month-old. Entirely different in interests and engagement ability, let alone practical requirements.
But if I had thought (again) about not bothering with the blog, a final indicator came a few weeks back.
A friend told me about The Observatory Science Centre in Herstmonceux (whose castle we still haven’t visited – there you go, another for the list). We went, and it was amazing – engaging for our children, despite their age gap, and low-key enough that us parents didn’t want to run for the pub within an hour of arriving.
I thought: there’s all this just half an hour from town, and this is the first I’ve heard of it.
I’ve since mentioned it – and a few other places I’ve only recently discovered – to a few people. Mostly the response is: ‘Oh wow, what/where’s that?’
So now I’m going to try to update this blog regularly, by way of giving people who live in and visit Lewes, ideas of what to do – here and within an hour’s radius of here – with their kids.
I have some ideas about how I’m going to structure all this, but they’re in a cloud above my head. I think I’ll just start, and it can be organic…
Hopefully the result will be a sort plungepool of inspiration and ideas. Hopefully it’ll all be of some use. Hopefully you’ll follow Little Lewes on Twitter and like it on Facebook.
And please do get in touch through the blog if there are things you’d like to see on Little Lewes, or places you’ve discovered that you think my boys and I should visit.
I’d love to hear from you.
13 thoughts on “Welcome, hoped-for readers”
Hooray for you, Kate! Lovely idea. One thing that immediately springs to mind is the amazing Cass Foundation sculpture park at Goodwood, which is only an hour’s drive away. A wonderful place to spend a (sunny?!) afternoon with the kids and a picnic. Will think on it and come back to you with some more suggestions. I’ve lived in Lewes for nearly 9 years and, personally, I really don’t think there’s a better place to live. I love it. The quality of life here is amazing. I have a 10 year old daughter and I’m so pleased we decided that this was the place to raise a family. The sense of community, the energy and the quirkiness make my heart sing. Anyway, I’ll be back soon with some more ideas. Meantime, well done and keep on keeping on – Sam x
Hi Sam, thank you so much for your kind words and the tip about the Cass Foundation sculpture park. Can’t wait to Google it and even more, to go! You see? I feel like I’m really clued up about a good deal of what there is to do in and near Lewes and then the day I launch Little Lewes, along comes this great suggestion! Do keep them coming… Kate x
Hi love, this looks GREAT! Cant wait to discover more new places to visit with the boys. We went to Marstakes Common in Chailey for bluebells but recently dicovered Heaven Farm, which has beautiful established woodland and a manageable track for pushing the double buggy. There are wallabys, deer and big fish you can feed. The boys loved it. Will keep you posted if I discover any more juicy places to visit! X
Thank you! I’m glad you like it… Bit of a labour of love! I haven’t been to Marstakes but have been to Heaven Farm only briefly – yet to try the nature trail. That’s one for the ‘summer’. Maybe all together? X
We love the play trail at sheffield Park, it is free, bit of a trek accross a field to get there but den building, tree climbing, things to balance on and walk along.
We have also started geocaching which is a free treasure hunt using a gps or smartphone with c:geo or other such app . There are loads of geocaches hidden in Lewes and surrounding area. Many are film canisters with a log to sign but my daughter aged 3 loves the ones in boxes with small toys, hairclips etc to swap. We have found them up on the downs, Ham Lane, Seaford, Stammer park, grounds of local churches and even in the centre of town. Really good multi age activity as we often do it with older children.
Hi Sophie – we are going to Sheffield Park tomorrow on your recommendation to do the Play Trail. I’ll be packing a sling for the 1yo, as that field doesn’t sound very buggy-friendly! Thank you again for suggesting it, we can’t wait! Kate x
Sophie, Geocaching sounds amazing! I have never heard of it! I’m going to download c:geo and see what happens… What a great idea though! Thank you very much for sharing this… I am getting so many good ideas from people, it’s going to take me 10 years to experience and write about them all.
And thank you for the tip on Sheffield Park too. We have been to the park itself (I love the reflections of the autumn leaves in those lakes) but not to the play trail…
Another to add to the list!
Thank you for getting in touch. Kate x
Thank you so much for this! Having just moved to Lewes from the US with a two and a half year old, this blog is a blessing!
Hi Silvia, I love reading comments like this. The blog is a fledgling at the moment, but hopefully in time it will prove useful. Let me know if there is anything specific you need to know about in Lewes, or if there are things you’re looking for that you can’t find. Welcome to the town – it’s a good place to be with children. Kate x
Hi Kate – well done on starting your blog. We had a brief chat at Herstmonceux and you mentioned you were thinking of doing this, so great to see it up and running! One place we love going to is Amberley Museum (www.amberleymuseum.co.uk). It’s about 45mins by car from Lewes and is a large open-air museum with lots of different exhibition areas, plus vintage bus and train rides. We’ve been about 5 times in the last 2 years and always find something new there. Well worth the entrance fee. All the best, Laura x
Laura thanks so much for the mention of Amberley – it sounds like a gem and we will definitely be checking it out. I feel like I am going to have to plan my family’s weekends down to the last minute as there are so many things that people are suggesting that we’ve not done before, and here I was thinking I was quite an old hand at what’s in the area! It was nice to meet you at the OSC and look forward to spotting you at the school gate come September, if not before! Thank you again for your comments! Kate x
Fantastic Blog. Really makes my heart ache that my little one will be starting school in September, I so remember the stage you are at although mine are closer in age. Some really lovely places that we love(d) some exciting new ones to discover in the holidays too so thank you. One place that was a free afternoon out to burn off some steam was the Garden Centre the one at Kingston has loads of great sheds to hide in (but the cafe was truely awful not sure what it’s like now) We love Garden Pride in Ditchling too we were there today for something to do after school my excuse was that I was looking for pots the real reason was the mountain of washing I didn’t want to face after the weekend camping! The NCT was a massive lifeline for me at the time too they have several bumps and babies groups now in town and nearer me in the sticks! Wakehurst Place was also a regular haunt for us to feed the ducks ane meet up with friends from Haywards Heath. We became National Trust members quite early on in our parental life and its invaluable, so many beautiful places to visit near by. Another great day out place is Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum my boys love it.
Charlotte, thank you for your nice message and you kind words about Little Lewes. It MUST make your heart ache that your little one is starting – it’s making mine ache that my big one is, and he is old for the year and will be five in October, so I’ve had him at home for five years. I feel like my time with my first baby is over… But it’s a new chapter, right?
About all the things you mention – thank you! We have been to the Wyevale Garden Centre in Kingston a bit too. My bigger one also loves all the sheds! The café has improved – service is shocking but the offering is OK and best of all they have built a tiny but very clean and dealable-with soft play. It’s great for a rainy day. I haven’t been to Garden Pride, but will add it to the list!
I am hoping to get in touch with the NCT about doing a little piece for them in the hope they’ll in turn mention Little Lewes in their Small Talk newsletter and perhaps beyond.
Wakehurst Place, again I’ve not been to but I adore National Trust properties (have you seen the post on Ringwood Toll at Sheffield Park?) and will be going to both Wakehurst and Nymans over the summer I hope. Bentley, we are also huge fans – it’s one of the best value annual memberships in the area. It recently changed hands and I’m looking forward to going and see what the differences might be… It’s a brilliant inside/outside place and the extended railway is a HIT!
Thank you again for your long comment and for saying nice things about Little Lewes! Kate x