Dennis Severs House

The were rules: No touching and no talking. Look, listen, smell, appreciate and absorb the atmosphere.

For my work Christmas outing we visited the Dennis Severs House in Folgate Street, Spitalfields, City of London. Opposite the lovely ‘Water Poet’ pub was a relatively nondescript black door to an ordinary looking Georgian townhouse. Inside, however, was a treasure trove.

The rooms were decorated in styles dating from 1724 when the house was built up to the 1850s. Each room was crowded with items plus bits of real food. The idea was that the room had just been vacated by the occupier and I have to say that’s exactly how it felt.

Each room also had some subtle music or sound effects that together with the silent visitors and perfect arrangement of the rooms created a fantastic ‘presence’. I found it quite a surreal experience but quite compelling and it is something that I have thought about since.

A wonderful experience that i would highly recommend. I would say though that I found that i had to ‘let myself go’ a bit and not analyze things too much to get the most out of it. An unusual but enjoyable night.

Mountain biking at Bedgebury Pinetum

For the last five weeks I’ve been cycling the 12km to work and back every few days. At first it nearly killed me as I have two stiff hills to get over but this week I was starting to feel ok. In a desire to take things a bit further on the biking front I really fancied doing some proper off road stuff and when Andy suggested going for a canter round Bedgebury Pinetum I jumped at the chance.

Andy zooming down the trail
Andy zooming down the trail

Bedgebury is in deepest Sussex, near the town of Flimwell and is essentially a large wood cut by tracks, paths and a few lakes. What makes it such a good outdoor venue is that caters for all levels of ability. There is a tricky (and very muddy) single track for the more serious mountain biker but also a variety of paths for family  cycling or just some nice places to walk.

Me zooming down the trail
Me zooming down the trail

Despite it being our first bit of mountain biking, we of course opted for the ‘difficult’ single track route. Looking back I think we were very cautious and hesitant at first, but the longer we rode, the confidence grew and the more fun it got. By half way round I was really loving it. To start with I made a point of trying to avoid the worst mud or the deepest puddles but it wasn’t long before this just became part of the fun! The course was challenging but nothing that I thought was too bad for the average enthusiast.

It's muddy out there
It's muddy out there

We stopped a few times to take photos, trying our best to look ‘action’. Getting a good exposure was difficult as it wasn’t a bright day which made for quite a gloomy forest. Next time, I may bring the flash!

The cycling was book-ended by tea and cake in the perfectly good cafe (pineatery) that overlooks the lake and before going home we hosed down the bikes at the washing station. If you don’t have a bike or don’t want to bring one the shop here has a large range (including jump bikes and kids bikes) which looked fairly good.

Overall a really good venue for a day in the country and next time I’d like to bring the family too.

jason covered in mud
It's still muddy