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 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…

Sixty Tea Rooms and Two Wheels – Cornwall Day Three

End of day two saw us enjoying a beer or two and a BBQ, as the night drew in the clouds and the wind came with it. As the skies grew darker, it was time to check the forecast for the next day, and it was not good! Heavy rain showers forecast, and they were going to be with us for the next couple of days.  Over night the wind got up and the rain began to fall, and I mean like stair rods.

Its 8.30 and the wind had died down, but the sky was thick with heavy rain clouds. Command decision was made, move to four wheels for day and are we glad we did, the rain when it did fall during the day was heavy! The trip for the day was going to take us up to Minions (Menyon) village on top of the Moors and then to Lanhydrock House (National Trust).

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Minions Village is located at the edge of Bodmin Moor, but is also the highest village in Cornwall, you could say it also has the two highest tea shops in Cornwall. Minions Village is a mining heritage village that still has the remains of several tin mines surrounding the village. Also local to the area are the Cheesewring (a stacked stone formation) and the Hurlers Circles (three Bronze age circles 1500 BC). The sites provide some fantastic aerial photo opportunities (will be going back with the drone) as well as other photographic opportunities.

Anyway, back to the original challenge regarding tea shops. We decided to go to the Hurlers Halt, there is also the Cheeswring Hotel and Restaurant opposite. Anyway, we strolled in to the Hurlers Halt and took a seat and looked at the menu. A great choice of food and other beverages. Just over our shoulder was a glass cabinet full of very big cakes and they looked delicious.  So, cream tea was of the cards and cake was on.  The owner was friendly and had a great sense of humour as we found out towards to end.  Our friend said after finishing tea and cake “so that’s the sample what are you going to provide for the main deal” he looked at us and said “have you read the bottom of the menu?” in red the following words were written:

WARNING – prices may vary according to the attitude of the customer!!”

Laughing, we paid our bill and left. If you like history and a good cuppa and good food, worth a visit.

Next stop, Lanhydrock House, a National Trust run house and gardens and normally guaranteed to have a good tea room and normally a restaurant. We have always found that the food and beverages in all the National Trust houses are good, so I am not going to say much, but the cream tea was good, but they really need to stop serving the jam and cream in sealed tubs… because you don’t get enough. The house history is fascinating but also tragic, with many members of the family being killed during the Great War. The house has some great artefacts and fabulously decorated rooms. The park and garden are beautiful with a small chapel at the back of the house. A good end to a few days in Cornwall.

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Our final day took us back home the quickest possible route, dodging raining showers and thunder storms. Luckily, we did not encounter them, we skirted around them, plenty of wet roads, but not rain fell on us. Overall we have a good few days and we will be going back and venturing further a field in to deepest darkest Cornwall.