Litesteer, Burwash Common, East Sussex

We’ve heard a lot about a new Electronic Power Steering system called Litesteer, developed by Oakley Innovations and decided to have it fitted to Absinthe along with an Empi gear shifter to make gear selection easier. Having spoken to Neil Oakley we decided to drive down to East Sussex to let him do the fitting rather than using one of his affiliated fitters who would be a bit nearer to home.

It’s a long drive but I was happier having the inventor fitting than someone else and it was an opportunity to get away to an area neither of us know at all. We drove down to Burwash on Thursday with the usual rainy trip on the M6.

We stayed at the Bear Hotel in Burwash which was slightly unusual. Neil’s Hungarian wife, Gabby, had warned me on the phone that she had  received some less than positive reports about the pub but actually it was ok for one night. The accommodation was a bit like a motel with separate buildings for the bedrooms, it’s just that they didn’t look inviting from the outside. The views over the surrounding countryside were great though and we were blessed with fantastic weather.We arrived about 5.30pm and the pub was full of locals sitting at the bar and obviously curious about who we were. A typical village local clientelle I guess.

We actually ate in the other pub in the village, the Rose & Crown, which was pretty good but we were stuffed after a couple of bottles of wine and massive portions. The waiter/barman had obviously been charged by his locals in the bar to find out who we were and why we were in Burwash because he gave us a third degree interrogation when he took our order!

We skipped breakfast and were at Neil and Gabby’s workshop by 8.30 (it’s only a couple of miles down the road into Burwash Common). After introductions and a chat about what the work entailed, Gabby drove us to Stonegate station where we caught the train into Tunbridge Wells. She promised to ring us about 12 noon to let us know how the job was going and an expected finish time.

We’d had some advice from the Forum about where to head in Tunbridge so we turned left out of the station and headed to an area called The Pantiles, which has a number of quirky independent shops and several coffee shops/cafes.

We had breakfast in Juliet’s cafe – a bacon sandwich on Sour Dough bread for me and scrambled eggs on toast for Alison – a great place and super atmosphere got the day off to a good start. 

We pottered round the shops, had more coffee and bought some things for Absinthe. Alison went into a travel agents to enquire about cruises for next year and was gone for nearly 40 minutes – apparently the cruise expert (an American guy) was on the phone when she went in and they insisted that she wait until he was free.

I wandered along the street to look at the Chalybeate Spring, but unfortunately it’s closed at the moment, presumably through lack of water – maybe they should move to Lancashire…

Gabby rang just after 12 and we caught the 1.10pm train back to Stonegate where she picked us up. She also very kindly gave a lift to a 21 year old Blackpool lad who had travelled down by train to meet a local 16 year old girl he’d met on Facebook. Apparently, the girl’s father wasn’t too keen – and that was before he’d met him! He was a bit odd and we saw him later as we left the village – he still hadn’t made it to her house – I predict tears before bedtime…
 We sat in the sun waiting for Neil to finish off the fitting and take her out for a test drive.
It was a glorious day with bright sunshine and temperatures up to 30C – unsurprisingly it was raining  at home.
Neil finished and I drove her a couple of miles to make sure I was happy. What a change! I can’t really describe the difference – let’s just say that when Alison set off to drive us away, she shouted “Wow!” at Neil and grinned liked an idiot…

We got away just after 4pm so decided to get to the other side of the M25 and on to the M40 before looking for somewhere to stay for the night. The M25 was a nightmare, congestion meant we took nearly 2.5 hours to do about 30 miles. Fortunately, I found a Country Inn on the Internet from my phone and we drove there to book a room.
The Pheasant at Henton is in a strange position on a road that doesn’t seem to go anywhere. They didn’t seem used to people turning up en spec to book a room but we persuaded them we weren’t axe murders and they let us stay. The staff were actually very friendly and looked after us pretty well.
After our meal we sat outside for a while and got involved in a bizarre converstaion with two Brummies and an Italian couple who had come over specifically to see the area featured in Midsomer Murders. The Italian lady was a huge fan apparently. Takes all sorts I guess…
On Saturday we had a lie in, then drove to Leamington Spa for a few hours to break the journey. Quite a nice place with a lovely park and the usual shops. Again, it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the sunshine.

We had to get home at a reasonable time to go to a Tapas Party with neighbours (frankly I’d rather have had another day away in the sunshine) so flew up the M40 & M6 and were home for 4.30p.m.

Another good trip with a great outcome – Absinthe is so much easier to drive now and manoeuvring into parking spaces is a breeze. Alison may lose her well developed triceps though!

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