Brighton Folk Choir at Oldland Windmill; walking back via Ditchling and the South Downs

Our second Bank Holiday gig in a row: this time at a 300 year old windmill, near Hassocks, a village that arrived 150 years later with the railway.

The mill is in full working order, as I discovered when I saw flour from it for sale in the local Budgens nee the station.

From here one headed up muddy footpaths between new build estates before finally emerging in open fields and the path to the windmill. Organisers had set up a cute park and ride with a minibus and even bunting-suffused pedal taxis, but I was in walking mode.

The walk up featured fine views of the South Downs, looming unmeanacingly on the horizon.

The windmill is in a gorgeous spot, and was set up surrounded by stalls like a country fair. The volunteer on the gate was delighted that I’d spotted the flour, and told me some facts, one of which appears in the opening paragraph.

Does salvage apply to windmills? It was clearly abandoned.

The rest of the choir arrived, and we did our warm up quietly down the lane, so as not to interrupt the puppet show.

Toilet: the headliner?

We were to perform at the foot of the windmill itself, with views out over the downs from our little gazebo.

We had a captive and receptive audience, the majority perhaps recovering from eating cakes, climbing up a ladder to view the innards of a working windmill, or drinking a pint of Sussex Best.

We performed a full 45 minute set, working our way through the year, from wassail season to Mayday, with a break for a lovely mill-themed blues number by our choir leader Jo’s parents.

We returned to sing some shanties – Cornish Farewell Shanty sounded particularly beautiful – and left the stage singing As I Me Walk-Ed in the round, circling the windmill and coming rest somewhere near the arts and craft table.

I think it’s the best we’ve sounded.

After a cup of tea and some cake, the choir flitted off in dribs and drabs to cars, trains and other bank holiday commitments.

I didn’t have to be anywhere, any time soon, and the Downs were calling me as the cloud burned away and the sun came out.

So I walked back to Brighton, via Ditchling village, with its cyclists and Vera Lynn themed cafe, past a vineyard, and then up, up, and up; until I could see the Windmill behind me and, once I reached the top, Brighton and the faint promise of the sea beyond.

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