Responsible tourism: South Downs self catering flat in Kingston, nr Lewes, England
My commitment to the environment starts at home with solar panels on the roof for water heating, water butts in the garden that collect the rain water from the roof, and chickens in the garden that are reared organically to produce fresh eggs. The water from the roof comes in very handy as I use it to water the garden and my dog, cat and chickens all drink it too. I have two compost heaps in the garden where most of my food waste goes to; the compost gets used back on the garden. I also have a Green Cone Food Digester that is used for any remaining food that canít be put on the compost, such as meat and fish, to stop it from going to landfill sites. The sun heats up the green cone, facilitating the growth of bacteria that turn the food into carbon dioxide, water, and a small amount of residue that rarely needs to be emptied.
The bungalow has ĺ of an acre of land that is full of flowers, trees and wildlife. The garden is full of birds and they often come and eat some of the plants in the garden or to have a wash in the bird-bath. There are two kinds of Woodpecker; pink, white and black ones or greens ones. The green Woodpeckers can often be found eating ants in the early morning. There are also Herons that might see visiting my little newt pond. I donít try to tempt the birds into the main lawn of garden too much as they would be faced with the prospect of my cat that rather likes to hunt them. The birds live happily in the trees and I believe they planted a huge Ewe Tree as it has grown over the years. Other trees we have are 3 Himalayan Birch, a Great White Cherry, and a Rowan tree. I also plan to plant more flowers that attract butterflies to the garden.
Kingston has a great sense of community and is very welcoming to new residents and guests. I attend St Pancreas Church in the village and as it is a medieval building, we often hold fundraiser meals to raise money for restoration work. We have a brilliant time together and the entire village is welcome. Itís a great way to raise money and bring the village together at the same time. There is also a village fate held each year on the green in June. There is a brass band, games, fancy dress, the WI have a tent selling food and all the money raised goes to the village hall.
When I donít have enough eggs from my chickens (or if the foxes have eaten my chickens), I go to Spring Barn Farm to get more. I get my chickens from Spring Barn Farm, so the eggs I buy are from the same source as the ones in my garden.
There are plenty of places nearby that I would recommend people to go for a scrumptious meal or a nice drink. The local pub The Juggs serves lovely local food and thatís where I would first recommend everyone to go. There is also a wonderful carvery nearby called The Newmarket and a very nice couple cook their own food in The Blacksmith Arms in Offham, just the other side of Lewes.
Other attractions in the nearby area that I suggest visitors to visit are Lewes castle and Anne of Cleaves house in Lewes. Or I can direct people how to get to Beachy Head and Seaford to look at the lovely views of Cuckmere and the Seven Sisters. There are lovely gardens around and Alfriston Clergy House is not far and is the first National Trust Property to have been purchased. Virginia Woolfeís House and Garden aren't far either; its open a couple of times a week and is very interesting and it is authentic to when she lived there.
The South Downs is all around the bungalow; from the top of the garden you can see the South Downs right the way from Kingston, all the way round to Firle Beacon and across the valley to Mount Caburn. The garden is at the bottom of the Downs, with a south facing slope up to the Downs. There are plenty of green fields and lots of sheep dotted around from the sheep farm in the village. There is a small stream called The Winterbourne that runs by the village, but it normally dries up in the summer as it gets soaked up by the chalk.
If you are walking along Juggs Way on the ridge on the way to Lewes you can look over to another ridge and see the stripes on the land from the historical faming system that was in place. Each farmer was given 3 strips of land in the area; one on the grass on the hill for summer, one for growing vegetables and a strip on The Brooks in the wetlands. There was a lottery every 10 years to determine which strips the farmers would get. They used the Roman Perches measuring system. If you look over in the distance on the evening when the sun shines you can see the strips of history.
I canít walk the Downs any more but there are great spots I used to visit that I'd recommend. In the very early morning you can see foxes slinking around in the hedgerows. If you visit at dusk you might catch the badgers about to begin their night time foraging. Make sure youíre not in the direction of the wind or they will smell you and go back into their sett. All the nearby hills and fields have Saxon names given to them so travellers could know where they were. The Old Saxon names describe the shapes of the fields. There is also one out of place field in the area that has a layer of clay over the chalk and is used for growing crops.