Sunday 12 May 2013 – Barnham to Southbourne
Perhaps it was the prospect of a long train journey from Brighton, with a change at Three Bridges, due to the engineering works at Shoreham, combined with rain and icy wind weather forecast, that reduced the group to just four – Jim (leader), Joyce, David and Julian.
We set off north from Barnham station at 10.50 through the village of Walburton and were soon going along the shortest London Road in the UK and then under the A27. At mid-day there was a brief coffee stop at Aldingbourne Country Centre, but with no time to view the Alpacas. Then after seeing the distant hill-top Halnaker Wind Mill (pronounced Hannaker by the locals) we risked a soft track through a wood where the bluebells were a great feature and across the path of snarling 4x4s sliding through squelching mud for a rally.
The Boxgrove Priory had to be by-passed for lack of time and a long straight ride took us to the Lavants past the Goodwood airfield, with a vast metal-clad old hangar, and the Goodwood House estate hidden by a long high flint wall. After Waterbeach we reached East Lavant at exactly 12.53 as Jim’s timesheet predicted. Soon we biked south down Centurion Way for a short while and onto the Funtington road for a stop before at Wellies Restaurant and Tea Room on West Stoke Road at 13.20 for lunch.
The excellent and ample main course helpings stimulated discussions on climate change, over-fishing in the Pacific and the constraints of Health and Safety regulations for employees. The Italian canned fizzy lemonade was memorable, but we had no room left for the tempting desserts which would anyhow have sent us to sleep.
Once on our way again in the cold air we passed a stretch of stenching road-side mowed garlic and reached Funtington. Going down Watery Lane we passed a female Mallard duck mothering over 15 small ducklings along the narrow clear stream by the road, and it flowed down to a group of white farm geese being fed bread. Then we went by a village pond featuring Tufted and Mallard ducks and a black swan with a red bill.
By now it was raining and the icy wind was roaring noisily through our safety helmets. So it was quickly on to the crowded Woodmancote Inn for tea, hot chocolate and cream-laden cake.
Julian raced ahead while Joyce and Jim admired these young pigs near Hambrook
A final rush south was made to Southbourne in the lighter rain to complete the 20 miles. Joyce and Julian unwittingly held up the south-side level crossing gate from being lowered by standing too close, and only just caught the 16.41 train as its doors were shutting. We arrived back to Barnham station at 17.05.