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Secluded, lakeside, countryside setting with the added bonus of campfires. Come during the week and have the place to yourselves.
‘Three Cheers for Pooh! (For who?) For Pooh! (Why, what did he do?) I thought you knew…’ Of the many things that the great Winnie the Pooh did and didn’t do, the most significant, as far as this little corner of East Sussex goes, is that he chose to spend his entire fictional life around the unassuming Surrey village of Hartfield. What’s not known is if he ever chose to stay at St Ives Farm, a quiet, idyllic countryside campsite just outside Hartfield, the village where A. A. Milne penned these famous stories. Hartfield, a one-street hamlet with a tiny village green and ivy-covered pubs, is the centre of Pooh Country. The old sweetshop where Christopher Robin used to buy ‘bulls eyes’ survives to this day, re-named as Pooh Corner and now does a roaring trade in cream teas, pots of honey and general ‘Pooh-phernalia’. You can also pick up a map that will direct you to all the haunts frequented by the loveable yellow bear himself, including 100 Acre Wood, Galleon’s Leap and Poohsticks Bridge. If you can bear to drag yourself away from all this nostalgic childishness, St Ives Farm is to be found just a five-minute drive north of Hartfield. After following signs for St Ives Tea Rooms, you’ll need to take a last-minute diversion across a farmer’s field and circumnavigate some long-stay caravans before finding the small camping area, offering about 20 tent pitches beside a picturesque fishing lake and surrounded by arable farmland. Be warned, with a limited number of spaces, it’s usually booked out by regulars at weekends, so a midweek break may be the only realistic option in summer. Being so far from the road, St Ives has an unusually peaceful ambience, an atmosphere enhanced by the fact that campfires are allowed and which scent the air with the fragrant smoke of sizzling sausages and melting marshmallows. The only activity on-site is coarse fishing for carp and perch in the well-stocked pond. However, the St Ives Tea Rooms at the farm next door seems to have an impregnable power over visitors to this place, who gravitate helplessly towards the flowerfilled tea gardens for scones and jam at least once in their trip. So, it’s three cheers for Pooh and for St Ives Farm, too. (Why, what did they do?) I thought you knew…

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