I recently met up with Thomas Kirchmayer, a visitor from ingolstadt in Germany at the Pleasant Cafe in Mount Pleasant Street(see photo above). He has visited east Sussex in the past but this was his first visit to Lewes. He sets out below some of his thoughts and impressions as a visitor, along with some useful suggestions about how the Lewes Pound Project could better connect Tourists and other visitors.
“It took four years from a first report I watched on German TV to the very moment I could hold it in my hand: The Lewes Pound.
Gavin Barker, the new Lewes Pound co-ordinator exchabged my 30 Pounds Sterling and there they were: fresh and shiny Lewes Pounds with Thomas Paine smiling at me. So I set off to make this afternoon my “Lewes-Pound-Shopping-Experience”.
I don’t know what you would suppose Lewes is most known for abroad: The Norman castle, Thomas Paine or Harvey’s Bitter? In fact it’s the “Lewes Pound” and a vivid Transition Town Group that makes your Town pop up in eco- and culture magazines on the Continent. So I came for a week to volunteer at “Transition Town Lewes” and moreover to find out more about giving local economy a sustainable boost.
Well, back to business and my Lewes-Experience. I popped in the tourist office to get a list of shops accepting Lewes-Pound. A lovely and attentive lady managed to photocopy the last list available but I couldn’t pay for a map of town in Lewes Pounds – “Which is a bit strange” as she admitted.
With the list in hand I spent a lovely afternoon and I could have spent much more money in shops definitely tickling my fancy. But to be honest 30 Lewes-Pound isn’t such a big deal. I need to return with my family and friends next time.
Back at the station I had some minutes left before getting on the train back to Eastbourne. I took time to look at a most interesting photo exhibition featuring “Urban Farming” which I discovered hours before when I arrived.
Later on it sprung to my mind: How about introducing your Lewes Gardening projects there? How about having a little photo gallery showing images of Lewes Pound Notes and some of the shops and people involved in?
I was lucky to have met so many committed people from Transition Town Lewes who struggled to show me round. Could any other tourist get a glimpse of Lewes Pound and at least some of the other projects making sustainability part of life and business and Lewes such a unique place to live at?
I’d love to stop over at Lewes next time or tell my friends to do so. Would they find a guesthouse or hotel whose staff could help them to get hold of “Lewes Pound” and a list of shops who accept? Would I find more stickers in the shops windows indicating “Lewes Pound accepted”?
So eventually I got on my train with a shopping bag full of treasures from Lewes. I will share all of this “Lewes Experience” with family and friends. And I hope to return soon bringing along more time to stay and hopefully more than 30 Lewes Pounds at hand.”