Saturday 16 June – Centurion Way, Dell Quay, Chichester Ship Canal.
Jim, Roger, Sean and Sue boarded the train at Brighton station. By the time Tessa joined them at Hove a lively debate/discussion had taken place around the subject of the Queen, prompted by Jim’s comments in the last report. It was all over by Shoreham when Tessa actually joined them in the carriage, having been ousted from hers by a wheelchair arrival.
We were met by Ian and promptly set off on the Centurion Way after a passer by took our photo. A slight delay while Ian returned to check that his car was locked, but we were happy waiting, relaxing in the windy sunshine. Marguerites were in bloom and they were waving in the wind as we passed the site of the Roman amphitheatre flanked by the metal Centurion sculptures, ‘A distinct lack of signage’ was Jim’s bugbear of today, and he was right- unless you knew it was a Roman amphitheatre there was nothing to tell you.
Once off the Centurion way, we headed for Fishbourne, weaving over and under the A27. We turned onto Dell Quay Road and into even stronger wind, so the sewage farm we passed was a mere whiff. The Crown and Anchor was a welcome sight. Beside the blackboard signs outside the pub advertising football matches being screened etc was another announcing ‘ Coming soon- Summer’
We had planned to eat outdoors but both food and conversation would have been blown away. Our indoor table was presided over by a very large photograph of the Queen Mother pulling a pint. Jim was persuaded to pose, smiling, with an arm extended towards it, in an embrace.
After lunch we joined the Salterns Way past Apeldram airfield, a wartime landing strip, now a field of wheat. We passed through Chichester Marina and joined the canal footpath where we were at last protected from the wind. We passed canoes, coots and water lilies in the beautiful afternoon light, on a narrow muddy track. When the footpath became a cycle route, the surface improved and the canal scenery gave way to ducks, swans, a rowing boat and a canal cruiser. Somewhere along the path Sue managed to gather a pannierful of elderflower heads, destined to become cordial when she got home.
Tea was at the delightful Canal Basin tea stop before we left Ian and boarded the train home. Maybe because the ride had been flat and short, there was energy for more conversation, again focussed on the Queen, the Royal Prerogative and Nuclear proliferation. The journey passed quickly!
Thank you Ian for a delightful ride on nearly a summer’s day!