West Wittering

Trip Start Jul 02, 2012
Trip End Oct 04, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, August 12, 2012

We were up early this morning and out of the house at 7.15, catching the tube to Victoria Station where we boarded the overland train to Chichester. It was an hour and a half ride through small towns, lots of 'Coronation St' type attached housing and green countryside.
When we disembarked at Chichester, Matt and the 3 kids were there to meet us and we drove about 15 minutes down to West Wittering where Matt and Julia have their fabulous country house, Speedscroft.  It is a 1930's home completely refurbished inside and is just gorgeous. There are 3 acres of rambling gardens and lush green grassy areas for the kids to play.  Matt got on the ride on and mowed a cricket pitch and we had a great time with the boys playing cricket.
Rebecca, Robbie and the kids arrived and Matt fired up the BBQ, cooking a great feast for lunch. It was so nice, the kids all playing together while we sat in the sun relaxing.
Later in the afternoon we jumped on Matt's bikes...he has all sorts of great old bikes including the one I rode which was a 1978 Dutch original complete with steel brakes, bell and a wide comfortable seat! 
We toodled down to the beach a couple of kms down country lanes and had a ball there playing beach cricket, touch and digging huge holes in the sand.  No swimming for us tho, having been spoilt in the Caymans, the water was rather chilly!!

After fish and chips on the beach, we biked back home and caught some of the Closing Ceremony before dropping in to bed in the beautiful quietness that is countryside at night...glorious!
On Monday, while the Coughlans visited friends for the day and Julia went in to London for a meeting, we stayed at Speedscroft with Matt and the 3 kids and had a lovely time. The boys and I worked on making catapults with our pocket knives (suffice to say I'm still livid about the one I had confiscated at Miami airport). 

At lunchtime Henry and Finley had swimming lessons so we went down to the local country club, a lovely rambling, typical English club where the kids swam and then we had lunch outside, feeding ducks and watching people play tennis.  It was all so very English county...delightful!
After watching a huge combine harvester harvesting the wheat fields across the road, we relaxed inside while we waited for a passing shower to move through and then Michael and I went exploring on a couple of bikes.  The house is on a country lane with room for only one vehicle and there are lots of 'public footpaths' that branch off it, often accessed across a narrow planed bridge and which are little more than cleared tracks that go through farmland and alongside bush.  We followed a couple and saw lots of birdlife, big crows being the most common. It was delightful just ambling along and discovering what was around each new corner.
Rebecca and family arrived home and after dinner at the long dining table (4 bench seats line the sides and the 12 of us fit around it easily), Matt and I went for a bike ride to Romans Landing which is down by the beach and has fabulous, grand old houses (many thatched).  There were some real gems, but unless you have a spare million to five million pounds, it will only ever be a place to visit!
Returning home in the dark (my bike has one of the old style dynamo headlights which lit up the road nicely so long as I kept pedalling!), we found the kids all waiting to play spotlight and so we spent a couple of hours playing in the perfect setting with lots of hiding places and tricky cut throughs.  It was hilarious and reminded me a lot of playing when we were kids, Matt is still just as competitive only slower and funnier!
To the predictable cacophony of protests and pleas for "just one more round", we finished up and sent the very tired kids to showers and bed.
Another great day, reminding me again why we love living in the country.

After a leisurely breakfast, Matt asked the kids if anyone was keen to have a bonfire.  Of course there was all round delight and we spent the morning out in a back field chopping up old gates (well actually smashing them with a sledgehammer...the perfect activity for boys!), tossing dried clippings and rubbish on the fire and generally having a grand old time. Matt had been saving the old wood for this very occasion and the kids loved it (the adults had a great time too!) He had even laid an old gate down to attract nesting voles so when he lifted them we could get to see them.  Sure enough one duly obliged, Aunty Phil being the only one to scream as it ran between her gumboots...soft!
Making fires is hungry work so those who could jumped on bikes and we made our way down to a small seaside village called Itchenor.  We had a great pub lunch at the local country inn and then took a short trip on a tiny passenger ferry (took a max of 11 passengers) before making our way back along the country lanes home.  
After a short break, we headed down to the beach for another round of beach cricket and hole digging and the kids were even brave enough to go for a swim! 

It was another lovely evening so Matt fired up the BBQ once more and we enjoyed another culinary feast sitting at the table on the terrace watching the kids playing.
Happily for the older kids, night fell again(!) so it was perfect for another round of spotlight which just never gets boring! Uncle Matt gets the prize for the best bird calls while Aunty Rebecca got very little sympathy and quite a lot of teasing if she made it home leaving the person in, "beaten by a cripple", her hip not really designed for sprinting in the dark!
With Aunty Julia in charge of shopping, there was one final round of ice creams before bed with 4 very tired children asleep within minutes.

On Wednesday we reluctantly got out of bed knowing it was our last day at Speedscroft.  Matt, Rebecca and I pottered around the shops in East Wittering before returning for another lovely breakfast at the long tables.  It's funny how the feeling changes at the end of a wonderful holiday and all the kids were cranky on and off, none of them wanting their time here to end.
Matt took me for a ride in his 1972 Porsche 911s which is really very cool and in fantastic condition.

After saying our farewells, Matt dropped us back to Chichester station where we boarded the train back to Victoria Station in London.  It is a lovely ride through the countryside and the time goes quickly.  

A fantastic few days!

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Rebeca on

Chuckling at much of this! It seems like ages ago already - what a great time.

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