This October I planned an impromptu visit to England to visit friends and explore the West Sussex area for a weekend. If you have been following me for a little bit you know I can’t pass up a deal and when EasyJet was having a £15 roundtrip airfare from Stuttgart to Gatwick (London) I had to jump on it. My daughter has friends who live in southern England so she flew along with me ~ sleep-overs sure have changed since I was a kid.
I had an opportunity to meet up with my friend Frances, who has done quite a bit of traveling with me in the last few years. Having just moved to England herself, she jumped at the chance to explore the West Sussex area a little bit more. It didn’t take a lot to convince her. We are travel twins separated by birth (both Alabama girls – one by birth, one by transplant.)
We chose a lovely B&B guesthouse in Petworth, Kilsham Farm. Here we met B&B owners, Liz and Phil. Their warmth and hospitality made it feel like we were staying with long-lost friends for the weekend. Our room was exquisite with views of the sheep-filled pasture, chickens and roosters romping around the yard.
We woke to fresh bread being made every morning and breakfast to order. My favorite was grilled mushrooms, scrambled eggs and a slab of bacon ~ YUM! Like real country bacon too. Expertly decorated, their B&B was flawless and our bedroom and bath were spacious and comfortable.
Traveling the country road to the B&B made me homesick for my childhood home in northern New York. Passing farm after farm only to be met with small little hamlets (towns) with a few stores, pubs and restaurants all filled with locals. The pastoral tranquil oasis in this hidden treasure of England is absolutely worth sharing.
Good Eats – Angel Inn, Petworth
On our first night in Petworth, Liz recommended the Angel Inn, not too far from the B&B and delicious.
I love exploring towns at night, as long as I am with someone – safety first. Luckily, my girl Frances is all about capturing spooky streets and dark alleys in an old English town.
Things to do ~
The original castle of Arundel was opened on Christmas day 1067 by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel who was one of William the Conqueror‘s loyal barons. He was awarded one-third of Sussex with promises to build a castle to protect the land and people from attack from the south and the sea. This castle has been home to the dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for almost 1000 years.
This magnificent castle was bustling with activity the day we arrived as they were preparing for a medieval fighting demonstration. For a little bit more for our tickets it allowed us also access into the palace and state rooms.
Planning your trip ~ Arundel Castle
- Castle is closed for 6 months (as it is still a residence) Oct 29 to Apr 1
- Private tours are available
- Tulip festival every year in the gardens (which were beautiful in the fall also)
Archery demonstration – lots of fun!
Biscuits and tea
After visiting the castle we decided to walk the town, it appeared to be dotted with small restaurants, antique shops and more~ so why not? We stopped in for some tea and scones at the Belinda’s 16th Century Tea Room. This precious tea room tucked away on a side street drew us in it looked so cozy and inviting. Our tea and scones just hit the spot for a mid-day treat!
REMINDER ~ some restaurants close down in the UK around 2 p.m. for a few hour rest (similar to France) so you’ll want to catch a bite to eat before this – although we found many restaurants to open back up again around 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. (reservations are recommended for dinner even for a small party of two as space is limited in many quaint pubs and restaurants)
Our next town to visit was Chichester ~ less than thirty minutes away from Petworth we headed off to another adventure. Chichester is considered a cathedral town and has a history dating back to the Roman Empire. Today it is a bustling little city and college town that also serves as its’ county seat.
Free tours are given every day at 11:15 and 2:30 p.m. – Monday through Saturday. Our lovely guide, Alan was a perfect docent with wit, facts and humor. British humor, which is a little like slightly sarcasm, also my second language. This is as much an art museum as it is a church. You will be amazed at the stain glass artwork, tapestries and mosaics that line the walls of this expansive cathedral.
Alan regaled us with stories of the spire falling and parts of the tower, no one was hurt but the massive construction to repair was super costly. The building of the cathedral began in 1076 after a decree was made that larger populations in England would need a cathedral and not just a church. It is a breathtaking place of worship and I was grateful to hear all of the amazing history.
Although many museums in the U.K. are free consider making a donation. It doesn’t have to be much, something though. Alan told us it costs about £3000 a day to maintain the church.
Great finds! Sparkling wine
Traveling with my sweet friend Frances we always seem to happen upon a little good luck ~ on our way to Chichester she spotted a wine-tasting at Tinwood Winery. It was later in the afternoon and we thought, why not? Wine in England…never heard of it ~ let’s GO!
It was a very nice tasting with several cheeses and sparkling white and rose wines (like Prosecco and Sekt.) They are not allowed to call it Champagne either because it isn’t grown in France. The sea waters just off the coast of eastern England help create a distinctive taste to this champagne. (It’s a good idea to make a reservation though) We didn’t get the 411 on that as we just saw a road sign and hopped in. This is a little different from the States. Reservations are really preferred. So if you catch a sign like that – might be a good idea to take the info down and call.
My girl Frances also loves the sea – so being so close to the English Channel we just needed to go find a beach ~ Bognor Regis was the closest we could find.
This seaside resort town was not very crowded in October as it was a bit chilly. Of course, it didn’t stop us from taking in the sounds of the beach and enjoying the boardwalk.
This wasn’t even EVERYTHING we did. We are a crazy bunch of traveling girls! I’ll have to save the rest for a return trip to Sussex. Up next for Frances and me is a trip to Venice, Italy for Carnivale ~ yet another adventure!
It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!