Sunday, February 15, 2009

Venturing into the British countryside in the snow...

On Day Five of our trip back to the UK we escaped the snow in London and drove down to the equally wintery English countryside of Crowborough in East Sussex
Snowy Crowborough tree line
For those unfamiliar with where it is (don't worry my geography is atrocious too), it's about seven miles from Tunbridge Wells and thirty five miles south of London, at the edge of the Ashdown Forest
Snowy Crowborough in winter
After the huge amount of snow that brought London to a standstill we were worried we wouldn't be venturing too far out of the capital, but we braved the slippery and windy country roads and made it down in one piece to the home of my best friend in the whole world.
Snowy Crowborough horizon
Driving down on the motorway we'd seen the fields of white snow that blanketed the English countryside and I was keen to capture some of these wintery landscapes for posterity (and to share with you all on Jason in Hollywood). 
Snowy English countryside
So once we'd arrived we donned a spare pair of wellies (Wellington boots or galoshes, as you may be more familiar with in America) and headed out with our friends and their dogs into the snowy Crowborough countryside. 
Walking the dogs in wintery Crowborough fields
People who know me know that I'm so not a country boy, so seeing me slip-sliding about in the mud and snow is always a novelty.
Jason and Charlie in snowy Crowborough
Not going into work and being around people every day anymore and being over five and a half thousand miles away from all my friends has probably been the toughest thing about living here in L.A. the past few months, so it was wonderful to catch up with our pals from home.
Dogs Harry and Hudson
Simon and Richard have two Collies called Harry (the one with the ball in his mouth) and Hudson. I'm sure if Cooper met them they'd be best of friends in no time. Harry is around eight years old and Hudson is a fairly new addition and just slightly older than our own ten month old pup.
Harry and Hudson frolicking in the snow
Harry loves to chase balls and as long as we've known him always used to carry a soft toy around with him. Hudson is just a big bundle of energy and after living with our own bounding pup we know what's that's like. Our friends are very brave to have two big boys like them and I think it'll be quite a few years before we're ready for Cooper number two.
Harry in the snow
After frolicking about with the dogs, a bit of horse whispering and a couple of snowballs we headed back to the warmth of a roaring fire for a home cooked meal (which was so nice after constantly eating in restaurants the last few days) and later, a sports tournament on the Wii.
Snowball fun in Crowborough
You really notice how peaceful it is when you're out in the countryside and it's nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a while. Having moved from the south coast seaside resort of Brighton, our friends are really settling in to their country lifestyle and they even have egg-laying chickens (to accompany their two dogs and three cats). 
Charlie horse whispering
On Day Six we travelled into Tunbridge Wells in West Kent, which borders East Sussex. Also known as Royal Tunbridge Wells, the town was a spa in Georgian times it attracted people who wanted to take the waters of its iron rich chalybeate spring. 
Royal Tunbridge Wells
As ever I was less interested in the history of the town and more with the food on offer (especially as it was quite cold and icy underfoot in the streets). We popped into a local brasserie for a lovely lunch and I indulged in some comforting British Bangers & Mash (sausages, mashed potatoes and onion gravy - yum!).
Snowy Crowborough countryside
Unfortunately on the Wednesday evening the weather foiled our plans again and one of our friends who lives in Surrey was snowed in and couldn't meet us at the local Raj Poot Indian restaurant in Crowborough. 
Shetland pony in the snow
Luckily another friend did make it down to join us, so we all had a really tasty curry (something we'd been looking forward to on our short visit home).
Crowborough sunset
I'm not really one for hot and spicy curries, but I love a nice creamy chicken tikka masala and theirs was fresh, flavoursome and a real treat. Even though there's a great variety, sometimes I find the Californian cuisine here a little 'one-note' in comparison. 
Rolling Crowborough feilds
I know Britain doesn't have the best reputation for food, but when you've lived in London you're really spoilt for choice with all the wonderful restaurants on offer. But we don't do badly eating out in L.A. and exploring the wealth of restaurants available, as my regular blog visitors will attest.

Thankfully the dogs were on hand to help us walk off all this food, but with all the comfort food I ate in the UK it's a wonder the plane was able to take off and fly us back to the U.S.A...

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