It’s 3:30am and my alarm is vibrating so much the glasses topple off my bedside table, I’ve barely slept but its time for an adventure in Sussex.
I made the mistake of going to bed early in preparation only to make the deadly freelancer mistake of checking your emails before bed. I’d received one that left me lying there whilst time ticked away faster than the frustration inside me built. Knowing you can’t do anything about either situation you can only hope you’ll wake at some point to realise you did actually fall asleep. In this case the client’s reply could wait as the reason for being up this early was to venture up and onto the South Downs for a sunrise brew with good friend and constant Breakaway companion Nick Miles.
We’ve traveled with Nick to far flung places before. We’ve enjoyed dusty rides, thunderstorms and “how much further” chats with him on many occasions but this time it’s all happening closer to home. With the current situation and foreseeable future different to what we once knew Nick is bringing his adventures and experiences right into his back garden, Sussex. Body + Earth offers Sports Massage Therapy and guided journeys into local nature spots right out of Nick’s own garden workshop and on the local trails across Sussex where he lives.
It’s 4am now and I’m pulling into a carpark in Ditchling where Nick stands shining his head torch at me, smiling away and lifting his pack up onto his shoulder. It’s warm out already and I’m regretting the trousers and down jacket I’ve packed but still I grab my camera and we head off into the dark guided by Nicks light. As the path heads steeply up and the pace slows, it doesn’t take long for me to unload my sleepless tales on Nick. I can feel myself ranting and I’m beginning to feel conscious I’m ruining the moment but then it dawns on me I’m experiencing everything Nick is so great at providing. He created the environment which let me unload my pent up frustrations and then just as I finish he slaps on a giant Nick shaped plaster in the form of nature and I’m now experiencing the moment rather than worrying about the past and the emails I have had to send. Within 10 minutes of leaving the car I feel like I need to get up at 3am and hike up onto the South Downs every morning.
As we head up the path we can see the sun start to rise way off in the distance above the North Downs. It’s amazing how the hills around Ditchling turn back on themselves ever so slightly to offer an uninterrupted view east and the rising sun. As I began to snap away with my camera Nick had set about unpacking a tiny stove and various delicious looking homemade snacks he’d prepared the night before. Overnight oats, chocolate brownies and flatbreads. The perfect source of sustenance for any 4am hike I assure you. Of course, no breakfast would be complete without that caffeine kick, so I reached into my bag and pulled out the hand grinder and the latest offering from Pinch Flat Coffee. With the water just off the boil we filled the aeropress with my freshly ground coffee and poured it over. A morning coffee never smelled or tasted so good!
With our bellies full and the sun rising at a rapid rate with warm golden light it was time to gather our stuff and head further along the trail. Nick wanted to not only share with me his ideas for simple easy escapes into the local outdoors but also find a way in which he could capture it so as to promote it. Being outside and photographing is what I love, capturing the moment to share and look back upon. It felt great to be back outside once again after the confines of lockdown and doing what I loved. We’d penned out a rough idea of the shots we wished to capture and the beauty of the location combined with what felt like a full morning’s worth of adventure meant I was surprised to look at my watch to see it was only 7am. I thought to myself I’d normally still be in bed at this time yet I felt more awake than ever and had the whole day still ahead of me.
What’s so great about local adventure in Sussex is how little it takes to make them happen. You don’t need loads of kit, supplies or even have to travel far. You just simply need to get outside. Although I must admit it did take Nick’s encouragement to make it happen for me, and that’s what’s so great about what he is offering, and why you should definitely check it out.
For most of the morning we’d not seen a soul yet a few ownerless dogs began to appear now, reluctantly moving ahead so we could only assume their owners were about to appear. I guess things get a bit busier even up a hill after 7am. As we made our way back down to the car the sight of a bench was all too welcoming and as I grabbed a few more pictures of Nick entering his backpack to grab his water I remembered the flatbreads we’d yet to eat. Coconut, rice flour and curry leaves all combined, dry fried and baked apparently, simple yet so delicious. A recipe from Nick’s time in Sri Lanka and prepared by the owner of the B&B he’d stayed at he recounts.
I’d love to be heading to far flung places again with Nick but equally if you haven’t experienced the sunrise sitting atop your nearest hill I urge you to do so, if only to be grateful the rest of the day. You can check out Nick’s new venture Body and Earth here and whether you’re looking for the recipe to his flatbread or even a massage or guided adventure in Sussex we can’t help but feel you’ll be grateful for the experience. Or if like me you have to get a load off your chest.
let us know where your next Adventure in Sussex might be?