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Cuckmere Valley

Skills Café



Ever wanted to find out how to repair a flint wall, or keep bees? Fancy having a go at foraging, upholstery or hearing about local wildlife walks or even about technology?

At the first ever Cuckmere Valley Skills Café, you can!

Saturday 10th October 2015

10am - 4pm

Alfriston War Memorial Hall and Old Chapel Centre

Learn a new skill or start a new hobby.


From wood turning to technology, we have lots going on to interest you, come along a see what takes your fancy, there is lots to do, see, try and get involved with.


You could become and Artist, Bee Keeper or even a Shepherd! We have it all on show, with demonstrations, talks and things to buy.

Managing sheep, Bee keeping, Flint walling, Wildlife appreciation, Painting, Free software & Linux, Dowsing, Gardening & allotments, Jewellery making, Upholstery, Forest schools, Wood whittling, Resuscitation, Knitting & crocheting, Bike maintenance, Language classes, Photography, Walking and wine tasing, Wild basketry & wild pottery

  • Refreshments

  • Stalls

  • Demonstrations

  • Flint walling

  • Arts & crafts

  • Wood whittling

  • Allotments

  • Photography

  • Upholstery

  • and lots more....

It's good to talk...


We have talks from people of all walks of life to part thier knowledge to you, to inspire you, teach you and engage you.


10:30 - Colour in the garden

11:15 - Bee keeping

12:00 - Bike maintenance

12:45 - to be confirmed


1:45 - Forest schools skills & activities

2:30 - Dowsing

3:15 - Managing sheep the old way

One of the first experts to agree to take part was Andy Bidmead of West Sussex Flint Repairs. “This is perfect timing for us as we’ll be able to showcase a new flint wall repair course we are planning for later in the year”, he says.


Others who have confirmed they will be there include a local upholsterer, a woodturner, a beekeeper, a computer guru and a forest skills specialist.

Darren Greenfield is a working South Downs shepherd on a quest to bring back the working bearded collie.   Eighty years ago a shepherd with his pyecombe hook, wide brimmed hat and leggy, long haired shaggy collie would have been a familiar sight.  Today there are fewer sheep and even fewer shepherds and the working bearded collie has disappeared from the South Downs.  Darren will be joined by his working bearded collie puppy, Belle and share stories of a shepherd’s life past and present and his vision of a future in which agriculture, tourism and environmental protection happily co exist.   

Fizz on Foot A unique experience offered to you by a new local business.  Fizz on Foot brings the combination of a guided walk from Alfriston one of the most picturesque spots in the South Downs National Park to Charleston Farmhouse and coffee;  where you will be met by minibus and taken to Ditchling with lunch at Court Garden Vineyard to sample the prize-winning ‘fizz’ of English Sparkling Wine.  You will be offered a wine tasting and a chance to see at first-hand how this wonderful wine is made and how the English are beating the French at their own game!

For more information see

Basecamp Southdowns provide guided walks and bespoke group experiences.  Launched by Debbie and Darren Greenfield to encourage people to #getoutexplore Sussex and the South Downs. 

The landscape here has always inspired, with its stunning coastline, rich cultural history, eccentric characters and award winning food and drink,  it is perfect for walking, running, biking and exploring.  Darren is a working shepherd, born and bred on the downs.  Debbie has escaped the city to join him.  With a host of local experts,  Basecamp Southdowns will walk with you and reveal the hidden history of this incredible working landscape.  

Alfriston Art Club table in the ‘Skills café’ aims to introduce you to all the wonderful possibilities of Art as a new hobby.


Painting and other forms of Art are creative, stimulating, engrossing and relaxing. We hope to demonstrate some of the many exciting alternative media available by use of materials and examples of work.


 If you find yourself inspired our Art Club members will try to point you in the right direction for courses, tutors, workshops and clubs.  This area is rich in painting opportunities and Alfriston has its own successful Art Club for all ages and abilities.

Clive and Philippa Hedger live in Polegate and are local beekeepers who want to promote natural beekeeping and living in harmony with the hive.


We became interested in bees about 8 years ago and very quickly realised that what the bees really need is to have lots people who will make space for them without necessarily taking lots of honey, allowing them to live as naturally as possible. We now have 23 colonies including 7 in a sanctuary set up in partnership with West Rise junior school on a bronze age site in Eastbourne. Our passion is to help people keep bees respectfully and treat the products of the hive as gifts for healing rather than commodities.

Juliet Sargeant - over the last twenty years Juliet has won many awards for her imaginative design solutions to garden problems. She is a planting expert and takes her lessons from Nature in order to achieve stunning results in even the most difficult gardens.

Juliet has exhibited at Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows and Wisley RHS Gardens. She has just stepped down as Chair of the Society of Garden Designers in order to research her second book, on edible ornamental plants.

Ruby Taylor, 'Native Hands' - courses in wild pottery  & wild basketry, using foraged materials which we gather on the day. Courses mainly held in woodland settings. Our aim is to offer a satisfying learning experience as well as an enjoyable time away from it all. 


We often take the objects & resources we use in our daily lives for granted, so it’s really valuable to experience the whole cycle of production: harvesting/gathering materials in a sustainable way, processing them & finally creating a useful & beautiful object to take home. An empowering opportunity to learn & develop practical, life-long skills.

Susan Taylor - I am a local Sussex Based Artist, specializing in animal art. Over my career, I have experimented with a variety of styles and subjects. I love painting wildlife, particularly big cats and horses. Flowers, landscapes and nudes have all featured as themes in my work. Not restricted by canvas, I also create large-scale murals – anywhere from a child’s room to commercial shop fronts. ‘My desire to paint animals stems from an endless fascination with their very essence, their majesty and prowess.


I strive to portray the life force within, whether through the movement of a horse in canter or the thoughts behind the eyes of a wild cat in captivity. 

The Cuckmere Valley Horticultural Society (C.V.H.S.) is  a group of local people, mainly based in Alfriston, who are interested in gardens, gardening, and seeing and hearing about gardens. 

Anyone in the Cuckmere Valley can join the CVHS, for a very small annual fee. You do not have to be an expert gardener or have a large garden to enjoy the benefits of the Society, which include:- two splendid annual shows in the village hall (of vegetables, fruit, flowers and domestic produce), social events, outings to renowned gardens, cheap seeds, discounts at some local garden centres, and a programme of interesting talks about gardens and gardening.

For more information on the Skills Café

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