This May Day bank holiday weekend we took twelve intrepid explorers on our very first walking holiday along the Western Section of The South Downs Way, from Winchester to Amberley.
It was truly glorious.
We picked up the walkers at 8am on Friday from The Old Steine in Brighton and drove along the scenic route to Winchester, via Steyning and Storrington, where we started the walk in beautiful sunshine at the cathedral at 10am.
As you can see we took it very seriously *no fun allowed here* from the start!
We stayed in The Trooper Inn in Froxfield and The Village Inn in Buriton where we ate hearty breakfasts each morning that set us up for the day. They also provided us with packed lunches for our mid walk picnics and water refill stops and most of our delicious evening meals.
Day one: Winchester to Exton.
Highlights included walking through Winchester City centre & the impressive cathedral grounds; a cheeky pasty & cream tea stop; meandering through the cool and calm shade of the freshly sprouted, lime green woodland canopies, deep purple bluebells, and dipping our very hot & tired feet in the stream at The Shoe in Exton!
Day two: Exton to Buriton.
We were overtaken by a couple of hundred runners who were running the entire South Downs Way in just three days! We obviously took a more leisurely pace and walked up Winchester Hill picnicking at the top overlooking bright yellow rapeseed fields and the ancient hill fort. Some stopped at the Sustainability Centre for afternoon tea whilst others carried on up the monumental Butser Hill, through the shade of Queen Elizabeth Country Park and down past Buriton Chalk Pit to The Village Inn for celebratory rhubarb gins!
One of the nicest things about our walks is that you can go at your own pace.
Day three: Buriton to Heyshott.
The 360 views from Beacon Hill were incredible, followed by a surprise and very much appreciated Caroline’s dairy icecream (also sold in Harrods!) from Manor Farm Farm Shop near Cocking.
Ending with drinks in the idyllic beer garden of the Unicorn Inn. Yes that’s right, The Unicorn Inn, where dreams come true: feet escape walking boots and are soothed on cooling beer garden grass, icy cold beers & soft drinks and welcome cups of tea refresh the weary walkers!
Day four: Heyshott to Amberley.
The team of hardy walkers set off in search of the Badger Faced Sheep! Finishing in Amberley where we shared a delicious cream tea, bought for us as a last day treat by the very kind Christina from Dental Health Spa.
Much laughter & many stories were shared over the four days, friendships were made and everyone received a much needed fresh air & countryside reset. We are thrilled.
Well done to everyone who came and to Neil for organising such a winning holiday.
One of the walkers said:
It is one of the best things I have done in my life!
We’re busy plotting our next adventure for the autumn, if you think you’d like to join us on our next holiday or if you’d like more information hot off the press then e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can’t wait that long?
In the meantime, to whet your walking appetite, you can join us on one of our regular Sunday Walks. The next walk is on 3rd June Bexhill to Battle through Forewood & the 1066 battlefield. The walk is 7.1 miles ending at The Bull for refreshments of your choice. For more information and to buy your tickets click here.
The Big Lemon’s Managing Director, Norman Baker, has announced he will be leaving The Big Lemon in January 2018 to pursue new challenges, having achieved what he set out to do by raising the profile of the organisation locally, nationally and internationally; and winning a number of new contracts, thereby establishing The Big Lemon as the foremost independent bus operator in Brighton & Hove.
Norman said “It’s been an exciting challenge to lead The Big Lemon through a period of significant growth and I believe the company has a bright future. I would like to thank the team for their dedication and support, and all those in the community including our passengers and supporters, the city council and our industry colleagues. It has been a pleasure working with you all.”
Tom Druitt, The Big Lemon’s founder and CEO said “I would like to thank Norman for his huge contribution to The Big Lemon this last year. He has taken the organisation to the next level and we now have the opportunity to grow our impact far beyond what was previously possible. I wish Norman all the very best of luck in his future endeavours.”
The Big Lemon has a reputation for a friendly personal service and we always look for the most cheerful friendly drivers to drive our buses!
We have vacancies for full time drivers, and some part-time drivers, on local bus services. Drivers ideally must be over 25 years of age with two years driving experience. A manual PCV licence is essential.
Salary: £11.10 per hour starting salary, rising to £11.50 after 3 months
Hours: 39 hour per week – overtime available
We offer a workplace pension scheme, full uniform, staff bus pass valid on the whole network, free lunches and the chance to be part of a great team that won the The Award for Best Place to Work in Brighton & Hove at the Brighton & Hove Business Awards in 2016.
So The Big Lemon is 10 on 1 September 2017. And we’ve come a long way since the idea for a truly sustainable, community based bus and coach company lit up like a light bulb in the head of our founder and CEO, Tom Druitt all those years ago.
I wasn’t around in Brighton when it all started but I bet there were plenty of people at the time who were patronisingly dismissive of the whole idea and regarded it as a flight of fancy that would vanish as soon as it arrived.
How wrong they were.
Ten years on, and The Big Lemon has never been stronger. Over those ten years we have built a reputation for being at the cutting edge of environmental innovation, and for great passenger service. People like us and want to use our services, which is a great testament to all those who have been involved in building the company, not least our drivers who are the public face of The Big Lemon.
Ten years on and we are still innovating and ahead of the game. This year we have introduced the first solar-powered electric bus in the UK and have since added another such bus and an electric minibus. Our solar panels not only power our buses, but our offices too, and have enough power left to export to the grid. Our conversion of diesel vehicles into electric ones is also a first for the UK, and we are working with the Sheffield company Magtec on this frontier-pushing project.
Ten years on and we are looking to expand the bus routes we offer in the Brighton area and have delivered a set of creative and seductive proposals to Brighton and Hove Council to make this a reality.
Ten years on and our finances have never been healthier, with record profits last year, demonstrating that doing the right thing by the environment and by our passengers makes sound economic sense.
Ten years on and we have accumulated a cabinet full of awards for what we do, and are currently shortlisted for three more as I write, including two highly prestigious national awards.
So I’d like to say thank you and well done to those who have got us this far. But we are also conscious that this is not the time to rest on our laurels. We have big ambitions to grow and we are already scoping out and pacing the route ahead.
Our new solar-powered bus got a tremendous reception when we had our official launch on Friday 28th April, at our depot in East Brighton:
We were joined by a great number of friends and supporters, and local elected representatives, including the city’s mayor, Pete West:
The media were there in force too, and we were especially pleased to have ITV Meridian along, whose coverage can be accessed here.
The specialist press was also present, and here you can see the extensive piece published by Bus And Coach Buyer.
There was a chance for everyone who turned up to have a ride on the bus and everyone seemed impressed. The interior has been tastefully refurbished and is unrecognisable from the vehicle as it had been. As for the drive, people expecting a milk float (as some still do from electric vehicles) were surprised by both the smooth ride and the impressive acceleration.
The bus is now undergoing trials and awaiting formal clearance to operate as a passenger-carrying vehicle.
There was also a chance to be shot up in the air in a cherry-picker to see the new solar panels that are on the depot roof and that power our new buses, and to have a tour of the depot led by our CEO Tom Druitt.