Day 9 - From Arundel to Chichester - Day's mileage 22.0
For the first time since our arrival, we woke to a clear sky and absolutely sunny morning. We had not ordered the full English breakfast the night before and were glad since it allowed us to get an early start and being outside was so appealing. We said goodbye to our hosts and thanked them for making our first hostel stay such an enjoyable experience.
We rode into town to the Three Cooks Bakery on High Street and picked up some pastry, coffee for me, juice for Jeanette, and some chicken sandwiches for lunch. We found a bench in front of a monument in the middle of the street and ate our breakfasts in the glorious sunshine.
We had planned a route to Chichester that would require us to be on A roads for only about two miles. The ride on A 27, west was easier than we thought since traffic was low and we found the turn off to Talberton easily. The next sixteen miles were simply magic. We rode through little villages right out of fairytales with thatched roofs, flower boxes and manicured gardens, each village separated by well tended farmer's fields. The route took us through Talberton, Eastergate, Nylon, Aldingbourne and Oving.
We didn't have a room booked in Chichester so we rode directly to the TIC and asked if they could help. We found that we had arrived during Chichester's Summer Festival and rooms were hard to find. After some calling, they found a room but the cost was 56 pounds a night and we had planned to stay for two nights. The lady at the counter could see the pained look on my face when she quoted the price. She said, "It's a beautiful Georgian house, I'm sure you'll love it."
I looked at my wife and reminded her that it was our 22nd anniversary and told the clerk, "We'll take it."
She told the owners we were on bicycles and would be right over. She assured us again, "You'll really love it. It's a beautiful house."
The house was only a few blocks away and we were soon in the front courtyard. The house was a three story Georgian built in about 1810. It was well maintained and had been remodeled with modern plumbing and electricity. It WAS nice. The owner greeted us and showed us to our room and showed us where we could store the bikes in the back yard. He asked our plans for the day and when we told him we were going to visit the Roman House in Fishbourne, he told us of a bike route to take. We also asked about other routes around town and he responded that, while he rode his bike, he didn't usually venture as far as we wanted to go. He was pretty sure however that a cycle path led all the way to West Dean where we wanted to travel the next day.
We rode the mile and a half to the Roman House museum and spent about two hours examining what is supposed to be the most extensive set of Roman ruins in Britain. It was about four in the afternoon when we finished and rode to Chichester Cathedral. When we entered we found the Philharmonia Orchestra from London, rehearsing for the evening's performance. We listened for half an hour and then decided to have dinner.
We decided to have pizza and went into a Pizza Express. We had seen them in every major town we had been in. When we looked at the menu we found that it was expected that we would each order our own pizza and eat it as a meal. We picked out two different pizzas with the idea that we would share and eat them family style.
While we were waiting for our order, we watched the other customers eating their meals. There are few things as painful as watching an Englishman eat pizza. He attacks it with a knife and fork. The pizza gets pushed around the plate as the diner attempts to separate a piece from the wedge. A sense of relief spreads across the eater's face as he finally is able to lift the piece, hopefully without stringing the cheese from plate to lips, and places the morsel in his mouth. The whole thing reminded me of someone trying to cut a tough steak with a butter knife.
The old saying, "When in Rome, " didn't even come to mind when our pizzas were served. We sprinkled them with extra pepper and salt and a little Parmesan Cheese and then picked up the pie shaped wedges and jammed them into our mouths. I'm sure we were immediately identified as barbarians but we didn't mind at all. We left with our knives and forks as clean as when we were served.
After dinner we walked along the medieval streets of Chichester and decided that a good bottle of Cabernet would be the perfect dessert. We picked up a bottle and zipped it into one of the bike trunks and then rode back to our room to plan the next day's activities.