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"What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare" William Henry Davies (1871- 1940)

Reviews written

since 20/09/2003


Ivy House, St Merryn 02/07/2015

A Cornish cornucopia

The Blue Bell Inn, Emsworth 28/06/2015

No bells and whistles here

Pinocchio Restaurant, Christchurch, Dorset 26/06/2015

No strings attached

Pinocchio Restaurant, Christchurch, Dorset During a recent stay in Dorset we had arranged to meet up in Christchurch with my parents for a Sunday night dinner. We were staying in Bournemouth and their hotel was in Barton-on-Sea, so Christchurch seemed like a good halfway point to meet up. We left our cars in the pay and display car park outside Waitrose and decided to walk up Christchurch High Street to find somewhere decent to eat. Although it was a Sunday evening, there were still plenty of restaurants and pubs open and it didn’t take us long to decide on a venue. I was the first to walk by Pinocchio’s Restaurant - not stopping to even look at their menu as I automatically discounted it thinking it the place looked terribly dated. I headed instead for the trendier looking Soho and Lock & Quay Bistro as they looked rather more upmarket. However everyone else in the group did stop and look at the menu outside Pinocchio’s and they were all agreed that it sounded rather good. My trendy alternatives were overruled and it was decided - we were all eating Italian tonight. THE VENUE From the outside Pinocchio’s does look a little garish and old-fashioned. It has a large tri-coloured awning in green, white and red with a matching sign also emblazoned in the Italian national colours and completed with a cartoon image of Walt Disney’s Pinocchio. It certainly doesn’t look all that classy which is why I just walked on by. However, if the others in my party had been as hasty as I was in bypassing it then we would all ...

The Grey Stag, Sidlesham 16/05/2015

Just the One Shade of Grey

The Grey Stag, Sidlesham The Anchor in Sidlesham used to be a bit of a dive so I’d never been there. However, it was recently sold, refurbished and rechristened “The Grey Stag”. We started to hear whispers that the refurbishment had vastly improved the place and it was now less of a hovel and definitely worth a visit. Therefore when it suddenly appeared as one of the daily Groupon deals for Portsmouth I had no hesitation in snapping one up. The deal offered a three-course meal for two at a bargain price of £28.00. The deal was further sweetened by being eligible for a further 20% discount from Groupon themselves so I ended up paying £22.40 in total. You can’t really go wrong at £22 for dinner for two so I was keen to give them a whirl. THE VENUE Having never been to this pub in its previous incarnation as “The Anchor”, I had nothing to compare it to in terms of the refurbishment. However, I’m pleased to report that the remodelled and newly decorated Grey Stag is very nice indeed. I couldn’t believe how big the place was. As it fronts right onto a main road you don’t really get much sense of how big the building is from the outside. However, inside it’s a veritable tardis. The bar area is wide and spacious with a lovely huge period fireplace to one side. In front of the fireplace are a couple of comfy looking sofas and a table with loads of magazines to leaf through. It really does look like the sort of place where you could kick back and take the weight off with a drink, coffee ...

Arundel Castle Gardens, Arundel 02/05/2015

Tiptoe through the tulips

Arundel Castle Gardens, Arundel I absolutely love tulips - they’re by far my most favourite flower. They’re colourful yet oh-so-very-elegant and their arrival each year always heralds the beginning of spring, warmer weather and lighter evenings. Added to which whenever I buy a bunch they never need to be arranged in a vase - they organise themselves and always look magnificent. I’m not alone in loving them - tulips have enchanted us ever since they first appeared in Europe in the early 17th century. “Tulip mania” quickly ensued - particularly in Holland where bulbs started being traded for many thousands of pounds. Fortunes were made and then very quickly lost when the tulip market spectacularly crashed in a modern day “Black Friday” leaving many bankrupt. Luckily tulips are a lot more reasonably priced nowadays, and love them we do. They’re such happy, cheerful flowers with their colourful petals ranging from snow white to pale yellow, vibrant orange, pale pink, deep red or a highly prized purpley black “Queen of the Night” variety. I’ve not yet made it over the pond to see the Dutch bulb fields but when I found out there was a Tulip Festival being held in the gardens at Arundel Castle I was most keen to visit. Arundel is a small town situated in the heart of the South Downs in West Sussex. I know Arundel Castle very well as my grandfather and grandmother actually lived there in the late 60’s and early 70’s and I spent much of my childhood there exploring the grounds and castle. My mum and dad were ...

The Old Stables, Fontwell, West Sussex 03/04/2015

How about renaming it "The Old Shambles"?

The Bluebell Inn, Cocking 01/03/2015

Wilting weed or fragrant flower?

The Bluebell Inn, Cocking The Bluebell Inn is a country pub with rooms in the rather unfortunately named village of Cocking in West Sussex. Cocking is a small village nestling beneath Cocking Down which is part of the South Downs National Park. The South Downs Way runs along the ridge above Cocking so it’s a popular route for both hikers and cyclists. Despite driving past the pub on the way to Midhurst more times than I could possibly count, I’d never been inside the place. However, that all changed when the pub was featured in a daily Groupon deal last month. The deal offered a two-course lunch or dinner for two for just £19.45 so I snapped one up. The deal was further improved with a Groupon discount code giving me another 25% off so I ended up paying £16.53 in total….which on the face of it seemed a pretty good deal. A two-course dinner at just over £8 per person…we couldn’t go wrong could we? ~~~ THE VENUE ~~~ The pub is housed in an attractive cream painted building right beside the main road (A286) which runs from Chichester to nearby Midhurst. Despite its proximity to the main road, there is a pleasant garden are tucked away behind the car park. There’s also an outside seating area by the side entrance to the pub which is no doubt popular with smokers. The car park is reasonably commodious with marked spaces to both the side and front of the building. Inside the pub is done out in deep burgundy red walls with cream accents. The flooring and the bar are all in some kind of dark wood ...

Samphire English Kitchen, East Wittering 15/02/2015

"Oh I do like to be beside the seaside"

Trents, Chichester 01/02/2015

City Slicker

Medical Pet Shirt 18/01/2015

Keep your shirt on

Lavenda, Worthing, West Sussex 03/01/2015


Efes Turkish Restaurant, Chichester 14/12/2014

Turkish Delight

The Richmond Arms, West Ashling, West Sussex 01/12/2014

Over-rated, over-priced >> under-whelmed, under-fed

The Richmond Arms, West Ashling, West Sussex My partner booked a table at the Richmond Arms as a birthday surprise for me last month. He did his usual trick of refusing to say where we were going and then taking a very roundabout route to get there in order to confuse and confound me. We had both wanted to dine at the Richmond Arms for yonks as it has a terrific reputation locally and it’s always booked solid. Although it goes under a pub name, the place is about as far from a local pub as you can get - it’s more like a trendy restaurant (or a gastro-pub really)…with prices to match of course. We’d been hearing whispers locally about how good the Richmond Arms was for the last three to four years yet every time we tried to book they were either fully booked, closed for annual leave, refurbishment or some other obscure reason. Granted they only open from Wednesday to Sunday every week so there is a shortened time span in which to visit, but it proved notoriously hard to book a table there. My partner finally managed to snag one for a Friday evening in late October. THE RICHMOND ARMS The Richmond Arms was rescued from the closure that hit so many pubs in the economic downturn by turning it into a rather expensive gastro pub. Quite what the residents of West Ashling think of their transformed “local” goodness knows. It’s hardly the place to pop in for half a lager and a packet of pork scratchings and I would imagine it’s unlikely to ever host a local’s night or a pub quiz. Instead the residents now have a very ...
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