“I should have taken you down to the lighthouse”, Mitch had said to Nick and I, as we wandered along Beachy Head, a chalk headland just outside of coastal town Eastbourne.
“No worries, we’ve got a whole 6 months ahead of us”, I had replied. “Plenty of time”.
6 months later. Where did the time go?
As the excitement of a new job surrounded me last Monday, the realisation that my time at the castle was coming to an abrupt end began to sink in. Had I taken my castle location for granted? Definitely. Inspired by the student life coordinators’ recommendation to students to make bucket lists before they left the castle, I decided to do the same. Presenting my Bader Bucket list. 2014.
Cat: “Guys, I really don’t like camping, I won’t sleep. I can’t sleep anywhere that’s not a bed”.
Nick & Erin: “But it’s on your bucket list! You have to do it!”
But how did it make it onto my bucket list? In my handwriting? I don’t quite understand, I must have been in a state of hypnosis or something. Determined to assist me in living my supposed dreams, Nick and Erin took it upon themselves to set up camp. In my living room.
I almost left them to it. My bed was in the next room after all. But for the sake of the bucket list, and for the bonding experience with my two best friends, I embraced the indoor camping. And fell asleep immediately, note, not in a bed! Amazing. (However, I did wake up at 2am and retreated swiftly to the comfort of my own bed). Camping, tick. Sleepover, tick. Two for the price of one!
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This term, the castle ran a 6 week archaeology programme for which Erin came over from Canada to work as an assistant. As part of the programme, students searched for treasure on real life digs. At least, this is how Nick and I liked to summarise their activity. One morning we went along to see what it was all about and got stuck into some serious trowelling.
No, but we actually did do something. And we found some ribs! Ribs. Treasure. Same thing.
After one morning of digging, we were ready for bed. Utterly. Exhausted. That afternoon, we retreated to the comfort of our office for some hardcore administration with a new found respect for our archaeology pals.
“Just to check, this castle that you’re referring to, is that where you’re currently working?”.
Ah yes, my castle. I’ve perhaps become a bit blasé and casual about the whole working in a castle thing.
At the end of each term, students are given the opportunity to go up to the battlements of the castle and gain a birds-eye-esque perspective of the castle and its grounds.
“Fancy giving us a tour?”, I asked Joe, the man in charge. An hour later, my colleagues and I were up on the battlements, living the dream. During my last week at the castle, I had several opportunities to truly appreciate the castle and this was one of them. Got to love a view that looks like this, especially when it’s so marvellously sunny.
Late in my Herstmonceux hibernation, I discovered Limecross Nursery, a garden nursery complete with epic café, located on the outskirts of the village, a cheeky half hour wander from the castle. My love of cafés is up there with my love of Andy Murray, so I was delighted to make the discovery, especially when I learned about their wine bar Friday event. Who doesn’t want to spend their Friday evening eating artisan bread and locally-sourced cheese, accompanied by wine? What a fine, inspired idea. A few weeks before departing from the castle, a few of us embraced the wine bar Friday concept and had a delightful evening.
The castle has its very own café called Chestnuts, which provides all sorts of delightful treats, including the well-known English cream tea. Before departing, I had intended to gorge myself in this treat-tastic English invention, as well as drag best buddy Nick along to the wine bar event at Limecross. Circumstances meant neither of these dreams were quite lived out but I did succeed in having multiple coffees at Chestnuts, and also managed to persuade Nick to come to Limecross for lunch, with Erin and uni-pal Sara. So… half a bucket list dream + half a bucket list dream = a whole bucket list dream!
I can’t swim. There once was a day that I could but that day has long gone. And for the record, it’s not the same as riding a bike; you do forget. However, I still love the water. My favourite cities in the world are those beside expanses of water, whether that be Barcelona, Kagoshima or Sydney. One of the local seaside cities in East Sussex is Brighton which, over the six months, continued to win me over. Inspired by Nick and Erin’s trip to the beach the previous weekend, we decided to journey to Brighton on my last full day.
There I was, perfectly content just dipping my feet in the water, whilst I watched my friends splash about in the sea.
“Have you got your phone on you?”, Nick asked.
“Nope”, I replied. I had stored my iPhone in the depths of my bag, far away from the sand and the water.
“Good!”, he responded before running out, picking me up and throwing me into the water, fully ignoring my high-pitched screams.”Now you can really tick it off your bucket list!”.
After a lot of screaming, splashing and swallowing of salt water, I returned to the safety of the beach, surprised but delighted to have survived the ordeal, although on reflection, the water really wasn’t that deep.
Lewes is a nearby village, known for its wealth and its quirk. I’d always wanted to go but had failed to live the dream, despite some valid attempts.
“Is everyone ok with us taking a detour via Lewes?”, Adam, the minibus driver had asked, as we made our return trip back from Brighton.
Despite shivering from our previous water adventures, everyone agreed and off we went. I’ll definitely have to return to the village for some quality shop and café time, but I can now say I’ve been there – and even have a jumping photo to prove it!
It was my last night at the castle. Christina, a PHD student at the castle, had suggested we had a potluck meal where she would make pizzas from scratch. Having heard her talk about her favourite recipes, I knew this could only be a good thing. And that it was. I didn’t have to do much to live out this final bucket list dream, other than hang out with friends, watch some dramatic football on TV, and consume a lot of very good food. It was the perfect end to my six-month stint.
Ok, so I didn’t make a musical with Rob, nor did I watch the sunrise from Beachy Head. But I believe I made a valiant effort of tackling the bucket list, together with the assistance of my friends. I guess it just means I’ll have to go back.
Back to my castle.