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My favourite places: Republica’s Saffron Sprackling

Saffron

Republica frontwoman Saffron Sprackling, most famous for nineties hits Ready to Go and Drop Dead Gorgeous is headlining ISFEST at Isfield in East Sussex this weekend – a fundraising event which features ten singers and bands with local connections. Saffron, who grew up in Sussex, spoke to Muddy Stilettos about her favourite places in the county.

Birling Gap

Visitors on the beach at Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters, East Sussex. This area is one of the south east's longest undeveloped stretches of coastline.

photo: National Trust

My favourite place in the whole world, that inspires me, is Birling Gap on the coast and Cuckmere Haven. It’s amazing. It’s very beautiful and it’s crumbling down as the sea is reducing the cliff. It’s still got the old tearooms there. There was a B&B right by the cliff edge that I stayed in before it went over so I could be right on the edge. It’s very near Beachy Head and round that area is beautiful. It’s where Quadrophenia was filmed – one of my favourite films. When you go there in good weather you can see for miles. There’s still a beautiful lighthouse called Belle Tout that’s now a boutique hotel. European engineers worked out how to lift it back from the edge. As a young kid I used to walk up there.

Ashdown Forest & Duddleswell Tearooms

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Ashdown Forest is very important to me as a picnic spot. I also like Piltdown Pond. There’s a nice café in Ashdown Forest, Duddleswell Tearooms [at Duddeswell, near Uckfield – not open weekends], that does tea and scones. Obviously Ashdown Forest is where Winnie the Pooh was set so there’s the 100 Acre Wood. It’s a good place for a walk with dogs or family.

Hotel Pelirocco, Brighton

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Pretty Vacant

Pelirocco is a boutique hotel down by the Seafront in Regency Square. All the rooms are different with mostly Rock n’ Roll themes. My favourite was the Pretty Vacant room but the new Kraken’s Lair room is now my favourite. It has a shipwrecks and kraken monster theme and a wonderful wetroom. They also have DJ nights and there’s a really nice cocktail bar there.

Kit Wilson Trust animal sanctuary, Hadlow Down

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I do quite a lot of charity work, especially for rescue dogs. Kit Wilson is the biggest rescue place in Sussex. They do a wonderful newsletter and you can go and see all the animals. They have everything you can think of there and they don’t ever put healthy animals down like some places. The work they do there is extraordinary and you can volunteer. I fostered a Romanian dog from there for a while. My family has always had rescue dogs. I think people should get a dog from there not one from a puppy farm, or one of these fashionable dogs.

Famiglia, Lewes

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Famiglia restaurant in Lewes [17 Market Street] is a tiny little Italian but it’s superb!

Barcombe Mills

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Photo: Ouse Angling Preservation Society

Barcombe Mills is a wonderful place for canoeing down the river and picnicking

Brighton Dome/ The Con Club, Lewes

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The Con Club

I have to mention Brighton Dome as I spent most of my childhood saving up to go and see bands there like Simple Minds and Yazoo and the Human League, which inspired me to become a musician. Last year Republica did a gig at Lewes Con Club. Not a lot of people know it’s there so we were happy to highlight it. We sold it out and we had a stage invasion which they’d never seen before down there! We really enjoy playing smaller venues because it’s a much better vibe.

Oki-Nami, Brighton

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Oki-Nami restaurant, which is backed by Fatboy Slim, is fabulous. It’s close to the Pavilion and the eastern cuisine covers everything from sushi to dumplings to tuna. In the same road (New Road) a few doors down is Pinocchio – a nice Italian – and opposite that is the Mash Tun, my favourite pub in Brighton. You get a mixed crowd in there and you can sit outside.

The Plough, Upper Dicker

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You can get good Sunday lunches at The Plough at Upper Dicker which is near Mickleham Priory.

Sussex bonfire festivities

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I’m pleased to be playing at ISFEST because I grew up in Sussex and loved the bonfire societies which it supports which are quite special in the county. They’re historical, they’re for the whole family and they raise a fantastic amount for charity. Lewes Bonfire is of course the most famous one. There are torchlight processions with costumes like the Vikings and Pearly Kings and Queens and drumming and they all end up at Lewes Castle. It’s quite Medieval and it’s quite awe-inspiring to see on that scale but lots of villages in Sussex have their own bonfire societies and the celebrations start from about now.

ISFEST, near the Laughing Fish pub in Isfield, is on Saturday 17 Sept, from 2.00pm to midnight. Advance tickets are £12 for adults and £5 for children or £30 for a family, including camping. Tickets are also available on the day. The event supports the Isfield and Little Horsted Bonfire Society. isfest.org.uk

See Republica’s touring dates at facebook.com/officialrepublica 

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Sussex