Country Mouse

Victoria Station to Horsham

Victoria Station to Horsham

 

With seemingly great ease we can still get into the English countryside from London. I say “seemingly” because, first of all, we have Oyster cards (prepaid fares) that allow us jump on a bus or tube train within a reasonable walking distance from our flat, and to arrive at Victoria (or some other station) within half an hour. We have Senior Railcards that reduce the cost of a train ticket during off-peak hours. And we have our “cousins” to drive us to more specific places we want to visit.

Last Monday we arrived at Horsham in West Sussex by 11 a.m. and Peter had his shiny sedan ready to take us on his second-favorite road, the 262, to meet a friend at The Three Horseshoes, a pub at Elsted. Horsham is a pretty town itself, but on a major line between Victoria Station and the coast. The population in south England is rapidly growing, and these days it takes a bit more effort to get away from the rush and bother of suburban life.

 

The 262 in West Sussex

The 262 in West Sussex

The westward drive was almost two hours, though I wasn’t thinking of the time as we wound along the two-lane road under canopies of woods, over vast farm fields, and through a couple of charming villages. Just beyond a manorial property that hosts a famous polo club (though we never would have guessed), we turned onto a narrower road and then a small track to our destination.

Near Elsted

Near Elsted

The Three Horsehoes

The Three Horsehoes

The stucco building sits on a rise with a view over gentle hill and fields. It is still cool enough to want to be inside, and Peter had requested a table near the fireplace. The hearth was prepared for us when we arrived. We ordered our lunches at the bar and then sat warming ourselves and taking turns reading a note accidentally left on the table with a cell phone by a member of the staff. It was about sightings of rats in the basement, not a nice prelude to the smoked duck salad.

Other than that, the day was wonderful respite from city anxieties. We drove back by continuing on the small road, which meandered between hedgerows and woods downhill towards the sea, coming out at Chichester, then on to Arundel Castle and up through more woods to Horsham again.  I love to see how carefully someone has tended to cutting the way through woods to make the road clear of branches. On a day even partly sunny it provides a fairytale atmosphere.

Hidden farm

Hidden farm

 

Winter hedgerows

Winter hedgerows

 

Hidden church

Hidden church

Seaside houses at Chichester

Seaside houses at Chichester

Arundel

Arundel

English Channel

English Channel

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