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SHORTSTAYLEWES - news from our Lewes bed and breakfast and self-catering accommodation 

Two weeks since the mayhem of Hastings and we move on to the smaller but no less enthusiastic Out Meeting at Newick last Saturday. A lovely crisp Autumnal evening and unseasonably warm welcomed us and saw a good turn out from all the Societies. Some great costumes too, resulting in South Street winning the Best Dressed Visiting Society trophy, fab news.

The bonfire boys milled around the pubs early in the evening before forming up, flaming torches in hand to then process around the village. A couple of laps later and back to the centre for bonfire prayers from the clergy, who were well and truly pelted with exploding rookies to cries of 'Burn him!' Followed by a magnificent fire and fireworks show.

I was then very happy to be invited back to friends in Newick, smelling delightfully of bonfire, for chilli and mulled wine, a great end to a fabulous evening.

This week the build up to the 5th has already started. We spent a very good day Wednesday, along with a team of around twenty others, helping load and unload what seemed like three million pallets into seven Luton van loads to take to our firesite and the bonfire building is now underway. There are still several loads to go and we'll be back there later helping.

This evening we have the Mayor and the Head of Cultural Affairs from Waldshut-Tiengen, our German twin town staying with us for three nights bed and breakfast to watch and celebrate bonfire here in the heart of Lewes, looking forward to welcoming them later too.

More later in the week in the warm up to the main event.......

Carol wins VisitEngland Rose Award

Short Stay Lewes bed and breakfast Beechwood has won the prestigious VisitEngland Rose Award for the great service that they offer guests.

VisitEngland gives this award to only 100 quality-assessed accommodation businesses annually – it rewards those that go the extra mile to provide excellent customer service.

Carol Hyland, who runs the bed and breakfast with partner Ceri Stenner, said: ‘I'm delighted to have received this award in recognition of service excellence. We pride ourselves on customer service.’

VisitEngland was impressed by the numerous examples of ‘exceptional hospitality’ offered by Carol and Ceri at Beechwood, shown by all their fantastic reviews.

And this isn’t the first time that Beechwood bed and breakfast has received awards. It already has the top 5* Gold Award from VisitEngland in recognition of ‘exceptional quality within a property’s star rating or for outperforming a star rating’ and the organisation’s Breakfast Award.

Tony Murrell, owner of Murrells Bed and Breakfast in Lewes, has already got his stripy smuggler’s jumper out of storage and has started the run up to this year’s huge bonfire celebration.

This will be the third year that Tony and wife Nicky have been part of the South Street Bonfire Society and will be parading through Lewes on 5 November along with the hundreds of other locals. Altogether, there are seven Bonfire Societies in Lewes, each with their own smugglers colours – South Street’s are brown and cream.

Tony loves being part of the procession and all that Bonfire means. ‘It’s nights drawing in, temperatures dropping, heavy dew in the morning, the ritual of donning my smuggler’s uniform, the smell of bonfires, smoky nights, processing, marching and mayhem in the streets, ‘ he says.

Bonfire in Sussex goes back hundreds of years and one of its most important events historically was the burning of 17 Protestant martyrs at the stake in the middle of Lewes in the 16th century.

And don’t go thinking it is just about the night of Guy Fawkes. ‘Many other towns and villages in Sussex celebrate Bonfire like we do here in Lewes. The first “out meeting” of the season is in early September in Uckfield,’ explains Tony. ‘Bonfire season runs right through to the end of November.’

Traditionally, Lewes always has its bonfire celebrations on 5 November. However, the processing run-up has already got under way for this year.

‘The weekend just gone we processed at Hastings – always a good, riotous night out!’ explains Tony. ‘This time it was combined with the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, so lots of battling Normans and Saxons on top of marauding bonfire boys and girls. We had a very wet start but such is life. Bonfire boys aren't bothered by the weather! So we marched forward in a great procession through the town bearing flaming torches and flanked by drumming bands, culminating in a huge bonfire on the beach with fantastic fiery fireworks.

‘Once I get home, tired and happy, I really enjoy taking off my blackened and smoky jumper, smelling bonfire on it. Oh, yes, the reason we look so dirty: we never ever wash our bonfire clothes!’

The next stop on the Sussex Bonfire trail is in two weeks’ time in Newick. ‘Another night of mayhem and carnage in the streets of Sussex,’ promises Tony.

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