Giants


Earlier this year I took a bit of a trip down memory lane and somehow ended up in the Sussex village of Brede. Now Brede is just a couple of miles up the road from my home in Westfield, another Sussex village. My mates and I used to take off on our bikes, with our fishing rods, and spend the day along the banks of the Brede River. What we never knew was, that less than half a mile away, as the crow flies, there were giants !!!

Of course, these aren’t the mythological giants of legend. These giants are of the steam variety. As pre-teenage kids we were totally unaware of the wonders that were working so hard just a short distance away.

The “giants” were two Tangye engines with their associated pumps which were installed in 1904, and a third manufactured by Worthington Simpson , added in 1940. All three units operated until the end of steam in 1964. 

The water, pumped by these giants, was drawn from large wells penetrating the rock (Ashdown Sandstone aquifer) beneath the River Brede. It was purified and then pumped into service reservoirs on The Ridge above Hastings for distribution by gravity via the pipe networks serving Hastings.

Of course, there is more here than just the “giant” steam engines. There are many other steam pumps and engines. Some were originally from this site. Others have been donated from further afield. The folks that work here are all volunteers and they work very hard to maintain a working display of this old technology.

Also on this site there are artifacts from more recent years, from the time of the cold war. There is nuclear bunker, one of three built by Southern Water as an emergency control centre to become operational in the event of nuclear war. It was never completed and work on the bunker appears to have stopped in 1992.

Following our visit to Brede Water Works we headed up to Brede village for a bite to eat and not before long we were sat in the beer garden at the rear of the Red Lion pub.

The Red Lion is a family run 15th Century pub serving an interesting range of freshly cooked dishes. The menu features locally caught fish from Hastings & Rye, meat from Hastings, locally sourced & homegrown fruit & vegetables and wild mushrooms foraged in Brede High Woods.

Here I had one of the best seafood platters, ever. With some of the home made “Brede Bread” on the side.

Just round the corner from the Red Lion is St. Georges church.

St. Georges has quite a history. Here is just a short piece that I have quoted from their own website.

In about 1017, soon after his marriage to Emma of Normandy, King Canute granted a land called ‘Rammesleah’ to the Abbey at Fecamp in Normandy. Construction of the present church in around 1180 was probably funded by the Abbott of Fecamp. Until 1413 Brede remained under the domination of the Abbey and the parish was served by its Benedictine monks until ‘alien’ (foreign) priories were dissolved buring the reign of King Henry VIII.

The name of the village is first found in a charter of c1030 and comes from Olde English ‘bredu’ meaning breadth’ referring to the wide river to the south.

The River Brede later took it’s name from the village.

The Church is dedicated to St. George, probably a soldier martyred in Palestine in the early 4th century. Besides also being Patron Saint of England he is remembered above all for the legend of ‘St. George and the Dragon’. There is a window dedicated to him at the west end of the north aisle and a statue near the altar in the church. Very little of the earlier Norman building remains and the structure of the Church developed over a period of some 400 years from the 12th century onwards.

From the exterior, much of what one sees is 15th century Perpendicular architecture.  The walls were built of local sandstone and ironstone.  High on a buttress near the porch is a brass sundial dated 1826.

Limousin, France – Day 5 Evening


Finding ourselves back at the gite, a little earlier than we expected, a couple of us decided to go for a walk up into  La Porcherie. The gite is situated in a very quiet corner of a very quiet village so we were able to stroll the lanes with no concerns about traffic. Here are a few shots I took along the way.

This is the lane that gives access to the gite.
This is the lane that gives access to the gite.

Behind the gite there are three lakes from which the water trickles, one to the next before passing through some kind of water treatment works. The water then passes on to the large lake which can be viewed below the gite. Whoever, owns and works at the water works had created a rather stylish rock patio set.

I think Fred & Wilma probably live here. Actually an improvised outdoor dining set for our nearest neighbour.
I think Fred & Wilma probably live here. Actually an improvised outdoor dining set for our nearest “neighbour”.

Just a few yards from the lane leading to the gite, at the side of the road, we came across a totally random collection of flowers. Not in someones garden, just at the side of the road. Beautiful.

Beautiful. A random roadside collection of flowers.
Beautiful. A random roadside collection of flowers.

Across the road from the flowers was a field containing three horses. We were rather puzzled by the fact that all were sporting blindfolds. Perhaps they were playing some kind of equine “Blind Mans Bluff” ? We were later informed, by the owners, that this was to protect their eyes from flies. The horses were visited two or three times a day and the blindfolds were removed at times when the flies were less apparent.

A horse playing "Blind Mans Bluff" or perhaps "pin The Tail On The Donkey"
A horse playing “Blind Mans Bluff” or perhaps “pin The Tail On The Donkey”

As we entered La Porcherie we came across this old shop front. Apparently La Porcherie used to have shops and an active restaurant but all are gone now. It is a shame but does, of course, mean that the village remains very peaceful.

La Porcherie, France - Old Shop Front
La Porcherie, France – Old Shop Front

The church here dates from the 12th century. Unfortunately, I have forgotten if it is dedicated to a particular saint. To the left of the church is the now defunct restaurant. Anyone want to start a new business. The canvass is completely blank.

La Porcherie, France - 12th Century Church
La Porcherie, France – 12th Century Church

La Porcherie, France - Village Well
La Porcherie, France – Village Well

As we strolled around the village we came across the war memorial. As we were to see in many other towns and villages, the names listed  really drive home the devastating impact the first world war must have had. Not just to the families but to whole communities. When you see that single families lost two, three or even four members, it really drives home the futility of war.

La porcherie, France - Monument to the fallen of the 1914-1918 war.
La porcherie, France – Monument to the fallen of the 1914-1918 war.

One thing the Limousin is renowned for is it’s cattle. They really are solid looking beasts, much more robust than there English counterparts. And, as one of our group commented, rather glamorous with their long eyelashes and the lighter markings around the eyes, reminiscent of mascara only white. This fine example studied us intently as we made our way back to the gite.

Limousin Cow
Limousin Cow

On our return to the gite we were able to relax with a nice cold glass of Leffe Ruby which was nicely set off by this wonderful sunset.

La Porcherie, France - Sunset
La Porcherie, France – Sunset

Limousin, France – Day 5


If it’s Tuesday,  it must be Collonges-la-Rouge. What the heck is that ?,  you may ask.

Selected as the target for a visit from yours truly this beautiful medieval village, some eighty kilometers from our gite, is listed as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages Of France” and is entirely built from a red sandstone which comes from the Habitarelle massif.

Collonges-la-Rouge, Correze, France - A hint at what makes this one of the most beautiful villages in France
Collonges-la-Rouge, Correze, France – A hint at what makes this one of the most beautiful villages in France

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Saint-Pierre church's steeple and other roof features
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Saint-Pierre church’s steeple and other roof features

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - quaint streets
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – quaint streets

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Le Chat
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Le Chat

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Street view
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Street view

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - detail from eatery.
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – detail from eatery.

After exploring the various streets and alleyways we had lunch although not in the establishment featured above. The meal was as usual, very relaxed and delicous and was accompanied by the unusual “Moutarde Violette” which is made by combining mustard with a red grape mash. The version that we were eating is produced at Turenne, just a few kilometers away from Collonges. We enjoyed it so much that we purchased a jar to bring home.

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - A local inhabitant
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – A local inhabitant

We, of course, visited the Church of  St-Pierre. The contruction of which was started during the 11th century. Further additions and modifications were made throughout the 14th and 15th Centuries and the church was fortified during the 16th century. Hence many different styles can be observed both inside and out.

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Saint-Pierre church entrance detail
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Saint-Pierre church entrance detail

Unusual for Collonges, the entrance way is decorated with white limestone, from nearby Turenne, although it is tinted with the red sandstone dust.

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Stained-Glass from Saint-Pierre church
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Stained-Glass from Saint-Pierre church

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Saint-Pierre church detail
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Saint-Pierre church detail

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Saint-Pierre church's steeple
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Saint-Pierre church’s steeple

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - view
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – view

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Happy window
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Happy window

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Through the arch
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Through the arch

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Archway
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Archway

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Twin turrets.
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Twin turrets.

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - It's that butterfly again.
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – It’s that butterfly again.

Collonges-la-Rouge, France
Collonges-la-Rouge, France

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Main street.
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Main street.

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Leather Workshop
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Leather Workshop

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - One of the more remote properties.
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – One of the more remote properties.

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Another roofline shot
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Another roofline shot

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Another roofline shot
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Another roofline shot

Collonges-la-Rouge, France - Quiet streets
Collonges-la-Rouge, France – Quiet streets

After leaving Collonges our route took us past Turenne. We opted not to visit on this occasion, just stopping to take a couple of quick snaps from afar before heading home to the gite.

Turenne, France
Turenne, France

Turenne, France
Turenne, France