At the start of the summer, I set out to visit much of the two hundred square miles of the constituency on my bike. Six weeks on, and with Parliament sitting again next week, I have visited many of the jewels across the constituency and spent time with constituents who do so much for their community.
My constituency road trip has reminded me of the history which is on our doorstep. From the National Trust and English Heritage properties of Bodiam Castle, Batemans and Battle Abbey, to the beautiful gardens at Great Dixter, we are fortunate to have such beauty and splendour in our midst. Our constituency is also full of amazing people bringing history back for everyone to enjoy. The team I caught up with at the Rother Valley Railway in Robertsbridge provide a fine example of dedicated volunteers restoring our heritage for visitors and residents to enjoy.
Of course, a beautiful landscape needs to be managed. Fortunately, we have many custodians who do just this. From wildflower meadow pioneers to renowned horticulturalist to the hop, crop, fruit and livestock farmers, I have visited many a farm and garden this summer in support of farming and wildlife.
If the gems in our rural landscape are not enough then we can also offer a vibrant coastline. Nothing brought this home better than a gloriously sunny Bank Holiday Monday in Bexhill. From cycling on the promenade, swimming in the sea, visiting the art at the De La Warr and Bexhill Art Society and joining the queues at Di Paolos for an ice-cream, it was good to hear the comment ‘who needs Brighton, Eastbourne or Hastings when you’ve got this on your doorstep.’
Space doesn’t permit me to list all of the constituents and organisations across our towns and villages which I have met over the summer. The dedicated workers I have met in parish and town councils, churches, chambers of commerce, museums, charities, community bus services, community neighbourhood and speedwatch, lunch clubs and from numerous other groups makes this not only a beautiful area to represent but a strong community where so many people are dedicated to making it even more special.
With only two days left on the road, I leave this column to cycle off for a day of meetings in Heathfield, to be followed by a trip from Bexhill to Pevensey with the Bexhill Wheelers. Hopefully my tennis elbow will have time to recover when I am back in Westminster.