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Sleeping Policemen, Banana Skins, and Kipling – tales from my jolly….part one

March 14, 2014

I should come with a Public Health Warning!

Sleeping Policeman (c) Jane Risdon 2014

Warning! Sleeping Policeman (c) Jane Risdon 2014

Do not go anywhere with this woman for fear of being embarrassed – she is an accident waiting to happen!

Sleeping Policeman - a/k/a a Speed Hump (c) Jane Risdon 2014

Sleeping Policeman – a/k/a Speed Hump (c) Jane Risdon 2014

Whilst out for a stroll enjoying the countryside and a lovely local village I came across a sign I have not seen for many years warning motorists that there was a Speed Hump across the narrow road.

It read ‘Dead Slow – Sleeping Policeman,’  warning those tempted to put their foot down along this quiet road that they would get a nasty jolt if they passed over it at speeds greater than a crawl.

  In England we call these humps ‘Sleeping Policemen’.  I have no idea why – I long gave up trying to fathom my own language.  I can only guess that being forced to slow down by something called a ‘Sleeping Policeman,’ must force some naughty drivers  to ease off the juice just in case there really is one lurking across their path.

This particular ‘Sleeping Policeman’ is situated just outside this pub.  The pub dates from about 1340. 

Local Pub circa 1340 (c) Jane Risdon 2014

Local Pub circa 1340 (c) Jane Risdon 2014

Anyway, as you know from the post I published before going off on my ‘jolly,’ I have been away for a few days staying with a relative in the heart of the English countryside and, as planned, we spent the time walking, visiting gorgeous places, and doing the rounds of the National Trust, houses and gardens.  Heaven! 

More about all this later.

The very first morning of my stay we set off early to walk to one of my sister’s  favourite places.  The roads were muddy from all the recent rain we’ve been experiencing and the paths underfoot were slippery with leaves, mud and water.  We both made our way with caution.

Walking in the Spring sunshine (c) Jane Risdon 2014

Walking in the Spring sunshine (c) Jane Risdon 2014

We walked into another village nearby and then set off along some long winding lanes to where there was a windmill and grazing sheep.  Apparently you can climb the hill to the windmill, via the field in front of it, when it is dry and easy to walk.  On this day it was not dry and the field was a mud-bath waiting to happen.  I wish I had taken the camera because the windmill was so perfect and the setting was magic. 

Anyway, we left visiting the windmill for another time.

Sheep in the wet fields (c) Jane Risdon 2014

Sheep in the wet fields (c) Jane Risdon 2014

We passed some dog-walkers and ladies leading their horses from the near-by stables, but otherwise we were alone with the birds singing, the sheep bleating and the odd aeroplane high in the blue sky droning on its way to somewhere exotic – most likely Gatwick airport – but I prefer to think it was transporting its passengers off on an adventure.

Busy nattering about this and that, as you do, I kept an eye on the muddy path as we came to a main road and walked behind my sister where the pavement narrowed and the grass verges were churned up from farm vehicles entering and leaving the fields hidden behind the high over-grown hedgerows along one side of the path. 

The traffic became heavier as we progressed along the pavement, the road on the right of us separated by a muddy verge but not wide enough to prevent both of us keeping a wary eye on the cars and lorries as they passed really close to us, buffeting us.

One moment I was chatting about Sleeping Policemen and how you don’t see them so often these days, and the next I was falling flat on my face on the muddy grass verge in full view of the passing traffic.  When I say flat on my face, I do mean flat on my face.  My flaming cheeks  were covered in mud, leaves and goodness-knows-what, my knees were soaking wet and muddy and so was my jacket.

Embarrassed or what!  I wanted to crawl under the nearby hedge.

My poor sister was speechless, horrified. 

I am sure she was thinking about Boxing Day 2012 when I fell head first down her stairs and the consequences of that little visit. 

I couldn’t get up for laughing.

She looked mortified.

Once she’d helped me up and I’d checked myself over, painfully, because of course I have still got a broken shoulder and collar-bone from my last ‘trip,’ to see her, and everything still hurts like hell, I knew that nothing new was broken. 

She looked relieved.

She wasn’t the only one!

I don’t know about her, but I was beginning to think visiting her is jinxed and I am fast becoming the ‘Guest from hell!’  What else is there to trip over,  fall down or fall over I thought as she helped brush me down. 

As I checked my trousers for mud and possible holes I noticed that under my foot was a brown rotten banana skin.  All thoughts of getting my inner ears checked for balance problems disappeared as we both gazed at the culprit.  I had skidded flat on my face on a banana skin which was hidden in some mud on the path.

I can now face The Mater with confidence.  When she asks me if  I’d been ‘drinking,’ I can answer no.  All I’d had that morning was a cup of tea.  Not that I am always half-cut I might add.  It’s just that The Mater seems to think that accidents don’t ‘just’ happen! 

When I fell down the stairs on Boxing Day (11am in the morning, just after breakfast) none of us could convince her I’d not had a drop of the hard stuff and fallen down drunk! 

As if!

The walk back to my sister’s cottage was rather quieter and a lot brisker than our outward walking pace.  I think she wanted to get me safely inside before I could do anything else embarrassing. 

After a much-needed cuppa we decided to go and visit some local places of interest and I shall write about them in another post.

  The following day we spent a fabulous time  at a wonderful country house with gorgeous grounds, called ‘Bateman’s.’

For those of you who are fans of Rudyard Kipling, you will know that his was his home in Burwash village, East Sussex, and where he wrote many of his poems.

Batemans: Home of Rudyard Kipling (c) Jane Risdon 2014

Batemans: Home of Rudyard Kipling (c) Jane Risdon 2014

One of the greatest writers of our time; Rudyard Kipling, lived modestly in comparison with some of his contemporaries.  His family home is gorgeous but simple and comfortable and we got the feeling that we could have lived there very easily.  It looked as if the family had just popped out for a while.

  I could’ve screamed because my camera decided to fail (battery flat) just as we arrived and began to take some photos of the delightful 17th century sandstone house which is surrounded by the most tranquil and lovely gardens I have seen in a long time. 

They also have their own mill in the grounds which are surrounded by farmland where, in the summer, you can find French Limousin cattle grazing on the estate which is managed by tenant farmers,  and there is an orchard, herb garden, pond and wildflower meadow surrounded by an old stone wall.  Rudyard Kipling’s Rolls Royce is still in the garage.

A perfect place to find a nook and a seat where one can sit and read in peace whilst munching on a bag of liquorice! 

But we didn’t sit or munch. 

Batemans (c) Jane Risdon 2014

We had a good look round and chatted to some of the National Trust staff about the family and Rudyard and his writing, and one of them even knew his daughter Elsie, quite well, so she gave us some interesting insights to the family.

The sun was very bright and the home dimly lit and so the few photos I managed to take are either very dark or far too bright.  I am crossing my fingers I can go again some time in the future and this time I shall make sure that the camera is fully charged.

The rooms are much as he left them; oriental rugs and artefacts from his Eastern adventures, a book-lined study, illustrations from the Jungle Book on the walls, Victorian toys in the nursery all make for a comfortable family home.

Some of the grounds and gardens at Batemans (c) Jane Risdon 2014

Some of the grounds and gardens at Batemans (c) Jane Risdon 2014

His memorabilia from India reminded me of my own father (born in India too) and Grandfather who had lots of similar possessions brought back from there when he retired from the British Army in 1947 after 30 years serving out there.

Rudyard Kipling was 36 when he purchased Bateman’s.  He stayed at the local pub in Burwash village,  The Bear, for a while before moving in.  By this time he was the most famous writer in the English-speaking world –  with his enormous success he was earning £5,000 per annum at a time when a secretary might have expected to earn £80 per annum!

Bateman’s was purchased for £9,300 and came with 33 acres of land.  As more local land became available it was acquired by Kipling and today there are 300 acres of gorgeous countryside beyond the gardens.

It is thought that Bateman’s was built by a Wealden Ironmaster.  In Norman times it is thought that the now quiet serene village saw the growth of Iron production which lasted for about 400 years and we were told that the tell-tales signs of iron production can still be seen in the woods if one looks hard enough.  Sadly we didn’t manage a walk in the woods due to the late hour and the failing daylight.  Next time perhaps.

Bateman's (c) Jane Risdon 2014

Bateman’s (c) Jane Risdon 2014

If you are interested in knowing more about the National Trust, Bateman’s or Rudyard Kipling you can visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/batemans

They are open March to December 7 days a week.

Bateman’s Lane, Burwash, East Sussex TN19 7DS

Well, I hope you find the first part of my ‘jolly,’ interesting and that you will tune in again for the next instalments:

Jupiter, Castles, Seed Banks and much more: tales from my Jolly, additional parts to follow soon.

As always all photographs are (c) Jane Risdon – All Rights Reserved.

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27 Comments
  1. When I was a little girl they used to have a big round lump in the very middle of large intersections in Brisbane -it was called the ‘silent cop’ and I remember once my father ran over it as he was turning right one day….my mother was horrified that he had hit the ‘silent cop’ and when as a 4yo I asked why, she explained that real policemen used to be standing on that spot directing traffic and that had it been a real man, my father would then be responsible for that man’s death….the memory stayed with me long after the silent cops were removed from the intersections of the city. I had forgotten until I read about your ‘sleeping policeman’, obviously named for a similar reason.

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    • Jo sleeping policemen can be in any area – built up or rural – to slow traffic and calm the flow. Not necessarily where a policeman might have stood. But they do make you jump if you go over one fast…used to enjoy it when little but these days it is a pain. 🙂

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  2. I think we need to get your one of those little balls the hamsters run around in and pad it to keep you safe. Glad you’re ok. Thank you for posting the lovely pictures. I’ve always wanted to see Kipling’s home. Someday, I’ll get there. Be safe!

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    • Thanks so much and yes I need protection from myself. I have these little trips now and again. The house is well worth the visit. Sadly due to the camera battery I had to resort to my phone as it was so dark inside, most photos came out too dark. Lots to look at and read there and of course, the grounds are wonderful. A real family home. I do hope you get there one day 🙂

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  3. Oh dear, Jane what are we going to do with you? Years ago out here in Oz we had Silent Policemen. They were a bronze hubcap sized lump at the end of a centre line in T intersections and such. At about six inches high they were there to stop car drivers cutting their turn through the intersection. Sadly they killed more motorbike riders than anything else. Banana skins, only you Jane, oh dear. I love your pics and the info on Kipling.
    Cheers
    Laurie.

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    • I am an accident waiting to happen!! Be warned if you ever have the misfortune to spend time with me. LOL. Yep these humps can be dangerous and I nearly tripped over one when walking in the dark. In towns they do have cats-eyes on them so you can spot them in headlights and with street lamps etc but in the deep country there is nothing. You just see them in the road….hopefully. More pics and info to come. 🙂

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  4. tazeinmirzasaad permalink

    Great post Jane! Lots of hugs! 🙂

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  5. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that interesting sign, I can just imagine the thoughts that would be running through my mind if I saw one without your explanation.

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    • I am glad you enjoyed it Kelly. True I am not safe to be let out. What a walking nightmare I am!! 🙂 Get well soon.

      And yes I can imagine Sleeping Policemen would make you wonder. English, such a crazy language at times lol

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  6. Jane, this is pure pleasure to read, filled with the things that make me treasure England. So, glad you were unhurt and the rightful culprit was spotted. Your sister is going to think you need to be wrapped in cotton wool though.

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  7. Great post, Jane – and glad you’re okay! I’ve never heard the term Sleeping Policemen – but it’s a great one – and even though we’re just across the water we call them speed bumps. Your post has done lots for tourism – makes me want to visit . . .

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    • Wow Susan, how cool is that. Tourism is up and Jane Risdon is to blame! LOL – well, I guess I might help a little. Sleeping Policemen are in areas where they are trying to cut speed and have been around since I was little though now most areas call them speed humps (bumps) and I am sure many youngsters here haven’t a clue when they see the older signs.

      Do make the effort and pop over to visit our weird and wonderful country. More where this came from. I shall try and find some fun things for the next post. 🙂 Appreciate you popping in.

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  8. Oh my sweets! You are so accident prone, Jane, I am worried for you. I’m glad you had a good time regardless and totally admire you for laughing in the face of adversity. A true rock goddess quality, methinks!

    As for sleeping policemen… well, I remember being introduced to that terms 20 years ago and laughing myself silly. My university campus had 23 of them, all the way down the hill and back up again. It was a bumpy ride, and I simply couldn’t believe you British would call your street bumps thus. Love it!!

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    • We are an eccentric lot we English but you have got to love us really! Yep I am an accident waiting to happen – socialise with me at your peril. 🙂

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      • I’ll bring full body armour and a hard hat when we meet. Oh, and I’ll have a first-aider on standby too. All bases covered. LOL! #JustKidding

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        • Too right! I don’t blame you. I have to say that I have fallen over in some of the best possible places. Outside a posh recording studio in London (thankfully it was dark) on the cobble stones, then in Prague when attending a family wedding – cobblestones again and again in Pasadena trying to avoid a wheelchair on a narrow path – this time I wobbled off the edge of the path and landed in the bamboo – at the Huntington Museum and gardens. In front of a Chinese singer we managed. So I do have form! LOL

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  9. What a lovely time you had, Jane! I’m so pleased. Thanks for sharing the ‘photos, too. I love that term sleeping policeman – somehow…it fits.

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    • Wow you are too fast for me! Yes it was a lovely time and I have lots to share. Sleeping Policeman – almost out of use now – really does sum up the antiquity of some of the villages and way of life in what is know as an area of outstanding natural beauty.

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Please leave a reply and comment - your input is really appreciated. Thanks, Jane

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