Five bikes set out from a layby on the A22 near Godstone and did a nice selection of country lanes (and overtook a fuel tanker, quite an achievement for timorous me) before reaching our destination: Middle Farm, at Firle, near Lewes. Not just a farm teashop with an excellent line in homemade cakes, but the home of the National Cider & Perry Collection.
The poky little shop boasts at least fifty casks of cider and perry from around the country, priced from £1 to £3 per pint, as well as bottles of Old Rosie, Westons and other old friends from the high end of the mass market. You can take a taster cup from cask to cask until you find something that takes your fancy, then fill a container (plastic milk bottle-style one, two or four pint holders for 20p a go, or a swish plastic jug if you're buying a present for someone) and have it sealed and labelled by the staff. I bought two pints of medium sweet, made on the premises, for £2.02. I doubt my first visit will be my last.
Trevor, who led the ride and is a fairly frequent purchaser of cider, promised that if he could remember the way he would bring us past the llamas. (Apparently sometimes there's a camel too.) I thought he was pulling my newbie leg, everyone else on the ride being a longstanding Member, but no. This perhaps made my day even more than the cider: coming round the corner at the foot of a down to see the woolly forms of hundreds of llamas dotted about the upward slope, black and brown and white.
Llamas as far as the eye could see.
A llama panorama.
[Memo to me: Turn left towards Glyndbourne off the B2192 just after Ringmer to see the llamas.]