Sixty Tea Rooms on Two Wheels – West Sussex

The weekend prior to the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we decided to take a ride out in to West Sussex to visit some historical sites and a few tea rooms. The roads planned are excellent motorcycle routes with barely any traffic until you hit the last part of the A272 and A32. Any way, we head out east at around 8.45am, mainly because the expected rain was not due until about 4.00pm. The route was going to take us along the M27 to Havant, the turn off on to the A27 through Emsworth on to Chichester. There we joined the Chichester bypass up to the Stockbridge roundabout turning right on to the A286 towards Bracklesham Bay, our first stop.

Billy’s on the Beach:

Ok, I said historical, in a roundabout way with the D-Day anniversary, Bracklesham Bay was an area on the South Coast that the troops trained and embarked for the liberation of France and the free world. Many a soldier, sailor and airman were associated with the area, especially with RAF Tangmere just up the road. Billy’s on the Beach had been on the local news that weekend, helping celebrate the D-Day anniversary by laying footprints of the soldiers going towards the beach, in memory of the soldiers that fought and those that died leaving England behind from Bracklesham Bay.

The other reason for us going there was to partake in a full English Breakfast before we rode north to Petworth. It was 9.30 and was a nice day so we sat outside and watched the world go by. We had a few admirers of the Roadmaster, which is always good, people love talking about it, especially if they have never seen one or even heard of the name. I digress, so we ordered a large and a small English breakfast and a pot of tea for two. The menu for breakfast and other meals were good and some of the food coming past us look very appetising.

Billy’s Menu

Breakfast arrived, I had two of everything, but I forgot to order my favourite, Black Pudding, especially when its only an extra £1. The breakfast was tasty, and the Red Bush tea was good. Surprisingly, not many of the cafés we have visited to date have Red Bush, it may be an acquired taste, but its one of our favourites. If you want a day by the sea, there is paid parking, pebble beach (and sand when the water subsides) and Billy’s. Additionally, on site they also have a quick snack, drink and ice cream wagon on the edge of the car park with picknick benches.

Overall, a good stop off, will have to go back to try some of the other menu items next time we head towards the Wittering’s and Bracklesham its currently open 7 days a week from 9.00am thru to 9.00pm. Billy’s on the Beach, Bracklesham Lane, Bracklesham Bay, Chichester, West Sussex, PO20 8JH Tel: 01243 670373

From Billy’s we head back up the A286 toward Chichester on the A27 heading out towards Arundel Turning left on to the A285 towards Petworth. This road is fantastic for riding, barely any traffic and a smooth road with twists turns, hills and views. About 3 or four miles outside of Petworth there is a vantage point that looks out over the West susses countryside and it is lovely. Be warned there is some very nasty corners if you approach too fast, I am not talking sweeping corners I am talking 120 degree turns, there is also some choke points with small bridges and farmhouses close to the road. Farmhouses also means the occasional tractor!

As you approach Petworth, the village is surrounded by walls, when you ride and Indian and you have a Vanquish in front of you the sound of the walls is unbelievable as the throaty engine noise bounces of the walls and hits your ear drums… perfect……..

Petworth House:

Another of the National Trust treasures. A beautiful house in beautiful park lands and lake (Capability Brown). The house is a 17th century country house formerly of the Percy Family, Charles Seymour and others over the years. It was handed to the nation in 1947 by Edward Wyndham 5th Baron Leconfield. The grounds and house are now managed by the National Trust. The grounds are massive, an ideal place for a family picnic under a shaded tree. If you have a dog, they are allowed to (on a lead). More details can be found on the National Trust Website. The food hall is in the old servant quarters and is big and provides the usual NT fair, you can even order a picnic basket to take outside in the grounds. Having had breakfast earlier, we stopped for a wander around the grounds and some coffee and cake only.

From Petworth we went back through the village and on to the A272, which has unfortunately got a bit of a reputation now as a racetrack for the weekend bikers. Which is a shame as the road and scenery is fantastic and deserves a cruise ride rather than a race. As a rider myself, it kind of spoils it, as locals are up in arms about the noise, (baffles removed). Its now getting to the point that noise pollution is becoming a big problem along this route and before long it will be “policed” using new technology. (See BBC Article “Acoustic Cameras”)

Anyway, we continued along the A272, briefly on to the A3 then back on the A272 then turn left past Loomies on the A32 towards Wickham.

Chesapeake Mill:

There are several tearooms in Wickham, but we had not been to Chesapeake Mill for quite a while. The Mill has been around since the 18th Century an is associated with the US Navy and the Royal Navy. The mill woodwork came from the USS Chesapeake which was captured by the Royal Navy during a 12-minute fight in 1812. HMS Shannon disabled her, the Captain of Shannon then boarded her and took command, claiming her for the Royal Navy.

The Restaurant: Offbeat

The last time we visit, the restaurant sold a bit of everything. As we walked into the restaurant area the smell was a wonderful, the smell of spices and other ingredients cooking away in the small kitchen. So, there was I looking forward to a Bacon and Brie baguette and we find out that they are now a vegan and gluten free restaurant, that also serves fresh cakes and artisan tea and coffee.

Anyway, I didn’t really fancy anything on the main menu, but on looking at the cakes, my mouth was watering, so we had One Hot Chocolate made with Coconut milk, One regular Americano coffee and two pieces of raspberry and almond cake. Wow, it was wonderful. We will be going back to try the restaurant main menu, because it smelt beautiful.

We that was it, a round trip of 90 miles through the West Sussex and Hampshire countryside taking in three tea rooms. We were out from 8.45am getting back home at 4.00pm, the weather was really good, it started raining about 4.30pm, so we made around without getting wet.

Happy riding people, if there is a tea room out there that we can visit, let me know.

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Sixty Tearooms on Two Wheels – The saga continues

Well, it seems a lifetime since I wrote the last tearooms blog… Anyway, Spring has sprung, and the sun has come out for a weekend and we had some time on our hands. What better than to clean the bike for my lady, (can’t have her sat on a dirty bike 😉) and then hit the road.

We didn’t want to go far today so we kept it within 25 miles and being members of the National Trust, we decided to go to Mottisfont House and Gardens near Romsey in Hampshire. It had been a long time since we had been there, but never on the motorbike. The route to and from is very good with nice cornering roads and scenery. On arrival we were surprised to see how much it had changed; it was a little hut on the last visit, now it’s a large building and shop for the entrance with decking walkways to the main bridge leading to the gardens and house.

Additionally, we also found out that they now have three beverage establishments within the grounds, two restaurants and a small tea and sandwich shop in the walled gardens. Wow, potentially three eating houses in one hit 😊.

Apart from the amazing scenery around the grounds and gardens, the main point of this blog is the eating. National Trust have never let us down, the assorted sandwiches, hot food and cakes is perfect and reasonably priced. They have even gone down the environmental route for cutlery, plates and cups of which are all compostable… of which I believe they do themselves, having seen a sign stating they wish to make 150 tons of compost this year… Impressive.

Last time we went to Mottisfont, the restaurant was only in the main house, now they have an additional one in the old stables with seating inside and outside in the stable yard, be warned on a warm day, it’s a bit of a sun trap. They also have a small teashop in the walled garden with one end of the garden laid to gravel and tables and they have also now included some grass areas for picnicking that overlooks the Rose garden. The main house restaurant has seating outside that overlooks a large lawn and fields, with willows hanging down over the chalk stream with an abundance of Brown Trout, small to very big. I am sure if you went on a weekday, it would be so peaceful, a little nap under the shade of a tree would be welcoming.

We spent about two hours in Mottisfont and then made our way back, as we had another spot in mind for lunch. A small establishment called “The Water Garden Café” in the grounds of Romsey World of Water garden centre. This is another little one that has expanded since the last time we visited. The food is good, the cakes and other goodies look homemade and they certainly taste good. A good selection of teas, but no Red Bush, we won’t hold it against them, I am sure they will have some next time we pass 😉. We ordered jacket potatoes, one with Tuna Mayo and the other with Beans and Cheese. A good helping and with side salad and coleslaw.

The café has plenty of seating in and out and once again a bit of a sun trap, but they do provide parasols for a little bit of shade. If you like water gardens and feature, the garden and aquatic centre have some fantastic displays. Additionally, they have a bit of newsworthy history for a couple of there fish. Several years ago, when the river flooded it was that bad that the grounds where flooded as well and a number of these fish escaped. But they were able to retrieve some of them, mainly Koi Carp and a Sturgeon. I understand that they were found near the local petrol station floundering, they were retrieved and are now happily back in the aquatic centre, living it up.

Well, hopefully that’s the first of many this year, as we continue our sixty tearooms on two wheels. Thanks for reading and if you are in Hampshire, go and sample some of Hampshire’s history, food and scenery.

Sixty Tea Rooms and Two Wheels – Hinton Ampner & Wickham Square

The last summer UK Bank holiday has now passed, the weather this summer has been extremely good, but, unfortunately lacking in riding days at the weekends. Where have they all gone, in fact where has the year gone? I started this challenge with the easy intention of visiting 60 tea rooms by my 60th Birthday, in November. That so far has proven to be a challenge, not because of lack of tea rooms, but everything else that goes on in life. Anyway, the challenge continues, and we are aiming to complete, even if it means rainy day riding, but please don’t tell my wife.

We recently joined the National Trust again to take in a few more stately homes and English family history and tea rooms. Today we ventured into Mid-Hampshire, to Hinton Ampner House.

The house was owned by the Dutton Family and was left to the national Trust in 1985 when the last member of the family, Ralph Dutton 8th Baron Sherborne passed away at the age of 87. The house was refurbished after a major fire in 1960 and back to the Georgian style that it originally was and has remained in full since the Ralph Dutton passed away.

The house has full access to all rooms, however, at present the first floor had the floor boards up for wiring and other electrical work. So, we will be going back for another look. The house is in 1600 acres of land and the gardens are beautiful to walk around. The tea room was the standard food fayre for a National Trust site and they also had Judy’s Ice Cream. The team room has plenty of seating both in an outside and in quiet surroundings.

Note for riders, the carpark is effectively a field on a hill and difficult to park. There is a flat gravel car park at the top of the hill by the entrance and it would be worth asking if you can park in there for ease (especially if you have a heavy bike like mine).

The ride out was a familiar one, A32 and A272, so nice ride all the way and back to Wickham.

Our second visit for the day was back to Wickham Square and Lilly’s Tea and Coffee House. We have been before and always enjoyed it. Generally, it is very busy, we didn’t arrive until about 1.45pm, so it had quietened down, so we managed to get a table outside overlooking the square. The menu is great and lots to choose from, Salad, sandwiches, afternoon tea and cake etc. Prices are reasonable across all offerings and food tastes great. Today we both went for Baked Camembert Ploughman’s, effectively a baguette with salad, pickle and a full baked cheese ring, delicious.

Well that’s was todays ride out, back to work tomorrow, three days, then it’s the weekend again, hopefully for another ride out.

Safe riding people…