Richard Brass, The Times Magazine.
Where to drink when you are feeling glum at Beachy Head
This time of year can bring out the blues in even the most ebullient fun – lover. The trigger can be tiny, such as suddenly realising you’re getting up in the dark, or the news that your friends in Australia are waxing their surfboards, but the next thing you know, you’re wondering what an earth happened to your life and pondering a trip to the south coast. And that’s exactly the right thing to do, because a couple of miles back from the cliffs is the kind of pub that can make you realise everything everything’s as right as it can be.
What’s it like? Nestling in a little flint village in the heart of the South Downs, the Eight Bells is the perfect antidote to a dose of gloom, whether seasonal or perennial. Unremarkable from the outside, on the inside the pub has a lovely airiness and calm about it that could sooth the deepest furrow. Big leaded windows allow light to shaft in and fill the space with warmth and cheerfulness , while and island bar creates a sense of expansiveness and a nice old wooden interior amplifies the feeling of comfy wellbeing. There’s a big inglenook fireplace to snuggle close to if your in the mood and a splendid antique cash register to take your mind off things. And if you feel the urge to wander, the beer garden is one of the best in the land, a great warren of nooks and hideaways threaded with flint walls, shrubs, arbours and flower beds, all looking out on a fine sweep of hill, complete with trees, horses and an irresistible sense of calm.
What to drink? With Harvey’s brewery turning out its excellent ales up the road in Lewes since 1790, its surprising that Beachy Head has gained the reputation it has, and the Eight Bells does its best to turn things around by dispensing Harvey’s’ splendid best. It might not solve all your problems, but a pint of best while contemplating the hill will at least make those dark mornings a little more bearable.