With Christmas just around the corner it was time to escape the frenzy of the shops and indulge in some cycling with a well planned tea stop en route. Half an hour’s bike ride away is Shoreham airport along Sustrans route 2, winding its way through Portslade, Southwick and then Shoreham. The Adur was at high tide as I crossed over the Old Toll Bridge then turned south onto the airport perimeter road. The bright orange wind sock was showing a strong south-westerly wind though I knew that already on cycling the five or six miles to get here.
The airport cafe was reinvented as the Hummingbird some time ago, bringing out all the best of its art deco features with the huge windows overlooking the airfield being the prime ones. You get wonderful views out towards the South Downs with Lancing College in the foreground with merry clouds scudding across the wintry blue sky.
It’s a huge roomy space with light oak flooring and chalky walls offset by the dark wood tables and chairs. There’s a touch of greenery from the huge sprouting pot plants and there’s even a mini grand piano with a programme of live music to look out for.
Given the season there was the ubiquitous sparkling tree and uplifting Michael Buble soundtrack of all the festive hits. It’s a place for families, friends and work colleagues to meet up, it’s got a bustle and an air of conviviality about it.
As it’s Truffles Bakery who are the new operators, the freshly backed scones and cakes make a terrific spread and are very keenly priced. My pot of tea and delicious fruit scone came to just £2.80. Lunches are tasty too and they were doing a brisk trade. The friendly staff are kitted out in black with the white hummingbird logo and were busy keeping their customers happy.
Shoreham Airport has stacks of history surrounding it with the first flight taken by Harold Piffard on his self-built Hummingbird bi-plane on the 10th July 1910.
On the way back I cycled over the new Adur pedestrian and cyclists bridge and now with a bit of a tail wind behind me the homeward journey was a bit easier.
My daughter arrived back home for Christmas later in the day so it was business as usual with loud music blaring from her room and racket as she and her friend stumbled back in the small hours after clubbing. Or so she told me. I slept through it all, sound asleep after my blustery cycle ride to the Hummingbird.
There are some cafes that are recommended to me by friends, others I just happen to spot as I cycle around town and a few that I hear about on the grapevine. Joe’s is one that I’ve been meaning to visit for some time now with friends and family raving about its charm and great food. In between house visits, as part of my new property copywriting venture, I deduced that Joe’s was equidistant between my last appointment of the afternoon and home. Unless you’re familiar with the streets around the Port Hall area of Brighton the cafe is is a bit tucked away but it is definitely one worth seeking out.
I was told that Joe is no longer and the new owners are a family combo of Dan and Jane who are husband and wife along with Lynsey who is Dan’s sister. They sensibly decided to keep the original cafe name as it had such a strong following.
The bold turquoise walls set off well the reclaimed wooden tables and chairs reminiscent of those in my primary school dinner hall. There’s a profusion of fresh herbs growing in zinc pots around the room and stacks of old wooden crates filled with all sorts of goodies. Breakfasts are still the principal item on the menu and at £5 including tea or coffee sounds a good deal.There are plans to make use of the patio garden area out at the back which would be a great spot to sample one of their famed breakfasts.
The new owners are keen to use local suppliers of top quality sourcing their bread from the Real Patisserie, sausages, black pudding & bacon from Natural Farm, free range eggs from Holmansbridge Farm, juice from the award-winning Wobbleggate, pies from Magnificent Magpies Pies and cakes from the wonderful Brighton Cakery.
I was too late for the breakfast menu but thoroughly enjoyed my warming bowl of home made tomato and basil soup with fresh bread. Afterwards the spread of cakes caught my eye and I opted for the banana and walnut muffin which went down a treat with a mug of tea.
Miles Franklin an Australian writer titled her autobiography ‘ My Brilliant Career’ swiftly followed by ‘My Career Goes Bung’. Sometimes I feel as if I go through this process in one week, sometimes in the course of one day, so bountiful are the peaks and troughs as I carve out my new line of work. The trajectory is on the whole upwards so I should keep the faith. For the new cafe owners Dan, Jane and Lynsey I wish them all the best for success in their new business and if there is any justice Joes’s Cafe should continue to do very well indeed.
You don’t have to cycle to the new Velo Cafe but it does seem a very appropriate way to journey there. This is Brighton’s first bike themed cafe and a new community hub for commuters, Brightonians, visitors and cyclists of all persuasions. The whole Level area has been redeveloped recently with an imaginative new children’s play area, landscaped fountains, a popular skate park for the teens and this fabulous new cafe. The wooden single storey structure comes with loads of sustainability credentials from the green wildlife friendly roof and solar panels to its rain water harvesting system.
Outside there’s an abundance of south facing seating on the terrace to catch the sun and plenty of bold red bike parking. You can spot the Velo banner flapping in the breeze with the ubiquitous logo ‘Eat Drink Ride’. Inside there’s a buzz about the place and its not just for cyclists with young families, laptop workers and curious passers by all taking a look. Queuing up for my coffee I admired Velo’s distinctive red and white logo emblazoned across their coffee machine and the cups and mugs with cyclists on bikes design. The open kitchen lets you see some of the delicious looking food being prepared. Breakfasts are served until 11.30 then it’s toasted sandwiches, burgers and salads. Velo pride themselves on using local artisan producers including Small Batch Coffee and Flour Pot Bakery. The cakes on display certainly looked enticing as was the display of red and white cyclists’ water bottles and other cycling paraphernalia that every cyclist likes to check out.
Being a bright autumn day there was tons of light flooding in with glass windows on three sides of the building as well as along the apex of the roof. A large flat screen shows a loop of great cycling moments from history and I can imagine that this will be a popular spot for cycling fans to gather when the Tour de France and other cycle races are taking place. There’s an open workshop to the back where you can get your bike serviced or even get that infuriating puncture repaired where the price includes a tea or coffee. So it’s all very civilized and puts the ease back into cycling.
The web based Velo Strava Club allows Velo regulars to tot up and publish their miles, altitude and time taken for journeys ridden. Being a keen cyclist myself it’s wonderful to see the symbiosis of cycling and cafes come together with such conviction. Maybe there will be some osmosis with the non cycling customers imbibing some of the cycling vibe down on the Level and deciding to have a go themselves. And where better to start than at Velo.
Just when you thought Brighton and Hove had every kind of cafe going, up pops yet another one assured of its own quirky, indistinguishable style. Arriving so complete and perfectly formed you’d think it had always been here on this previously unremarkable stretch of Church Rd. It’s got that mix of shabby chic with just the right amount of panache and style that makes for a very relaxed feel. Everything is for sale here, from the distressed and extremely comfy leather sofas to the cabinets, shelves and plethora of knick knacks and lamps furnishing this offbeat cafe. There’s an expert eye at work here though as this is no higgledy-piggledy interior but an artfully arranged ensemble complete with an autumnal colour theme displaying their wares to best effect.
With the chilled out jazzy music and those sink into sofas it’s all very laid back. All the cakes are home baked daily so come as fresh as can be and you won’t get them anywhere else in town. Displayed in a lovely vintage Cadbury’s wooden and glass case their baking looked very tempting and can include New York Style Baked Cheesecake and Chocolate Cake with Fresh Whipped Cream and Mordello Cherries. Their cash till is an original aluminium antique which has been brought back into service and rings with that unmistakeable brrrrrng when the keys are pressed and the drawer opens.
Run by a family team of Meg and her dad Barry hailing from California and Tazz, Meg’s business partner, their list of previous work experience is eclectic ranging from building, movies and even catering. If you manage to get into conversation with Barry it’s a chance to hear some Hollywood tales first hand from his early days in the movie business. He’s more than an aficionado and has that easy, loose way Californians have of talking and makes for engaging company while sipping on your coffee or tea. Tazz prides himself on his coffee making skills and my cappuccino was pitch perfect.
In the evening it’s planned to hold classes such as baking, upholstery, sewing and even some speed dating so worth keeping an eye on their website. There’s also a function room downstairs if you’re holding a private party.
So Cafe and Salvage might be the new kid on the block but it’s sneaked in unobtrusively and looks like it’s already part of the fabric of Brighton & Hove’s cafe scene. They’ve now got a great little film too.
Don’t be put off by the airport terminal style to this unusual cafe. With its massive white frontage and canopy you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d taken a wrong turning somewhere and ended up at Gatwick by mistake. South facing and with huge full length windows you catch the sun whether sitting outside on the expansive terrace or in the huge space inside. It’s really designed for when there are events on at the cricket ground attracting huge crowds. When the crowds have departed it’s altogether different and rather a quiet spot, set back from Eaton Road, with views down the tree-lined Selbourne Road towards the sea in the distance.
Italian is the theme here with the pizzas made from dough freshly made each day and plenty of fresh pasta dishes very reasonably priced. I’m told the ice-cream is hand made on the premises as are the range of Italian desserts on display such as tiramisu and apple cake. As this cafe is open from 8.30 each day you can also get breakfast here too. The owners used to run Zingarella’s at the Marina and have now moved here to further practice their art of all things Italian. The barista told me that on event days they clear out all the tables and chairs and have loads of panini and savoury eats to take away to satisfy the crowds. I could just imagine in my mind’s eye the place packed with throngs of people jostling for food and drink. Fortunately for me there was no such event on and the area exuded peace and calm when I was there. It seems not many know that this gem of a place is open every day even when there are no matches or events taking place.
Inside the low early autumn sun threw long shadows streaking across the floor through the tall windows and cast deep shadows of the distinctive looking light fittings high up on the ceiling onto the wall. The cafe’s size make it perfect for mums with buggies or for large groups as there’s so much space and there’s free WiFi for those who want a spot away from home to work. Outside there are some snazzy looking bold orange chairs on the terrace and the leaves on the surrounding trees are just starting to turn gold and orange too. With the clocks going back and autumn gales forecast it’s time to embrace the change of the seasons. But for a little while longer you can sit in the sun at Cafe Pasticci and have the place almost all to yourself.
Cycling up Montefiore Road the other day I spotted a new deli and cafe. Its cheering cerise gloss-painted frontage and large canopy caught my eye and I made a mental note to stop there sometime soon. I’d been visiting a few nearby properties as part of some newly developed freelance copywriting work for a local estate agent. In some ways I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing this sort of work before as it’s very much my sort of thing. I get to cycle around, check out some houses, speak to owners asking them lots of questions then I just have to write up about it.
The large pavement area outside the deli has been put to good use. Abundant seasonal fruit and veg including squashes, pumpkins, apples and ruby chard make for a fresh and colourful display. Next to this is their one outdoor table which surprisingly was free. As all the indoor ones had been taken by customers tucking into their hearty lunches, I bagged this one for myself. Being west facing, the FarAway is great for catching the sun and watching the the neighbourhood life going on from the dog walkers making their way towards St Ann’s Well gardens and the staff from the hospital directly across the road making the most of their lunch break.
Menu highlights include the Super Toasty of bacon, Emmental cheese, sun-blushed tomatoes,mustard and paprika from amongst their tasty sounding selection of sandwiches, melts and wraps. Coffee is Union roasted so coffee lovers should be happy with that and teas are good quality too. Bread and pastries are from my long time favourite Real Patisserie. There’s a small but perfectly formed cheese selection including Cornish Yarg, Brie de Meaux and Cashell Blue. Once their baker is back from holiday I’m told there will be a wonderful range of home baked cakes to indulge in too. Shelves are full of select pickles, sauces and the like so you can do some of your shopping too while you’re here.
Only open three weeks the new owners are keen to develop the cafe and deli into a neighbourhood favourite. Family run, it’s friendly and welcoming as you’d expect. While the husband and wife team develop their new business having just moved down from London, I’ll be developing my new venture of interior and property writing. So with a new season comes new opportunities and I wish them luck in their new venture and have my fingers crossed for my own.
You can find The FarAway on Facebook
Cafe Delice sits at the bottom of Kensington Gardens as it joins the junction with North Road. You cannot miss its glossy plum exterior highlighted with number 40 in gold lettering right on the corner. Being in a prime spot in the heart of the bohemian North Laine it’s a great place for a meet up. There is a line of tables outside on the terracotta tiled pedestrian thoroughfare for sitting al fresco but I was headed inside.
I was meeting with Write Club, a group of writers on their monthly get together held upstairs in this cafe-bistro. You never quite know who will turn up although there always seems to be an interesting bunch. Maybe it’s something to do with writers being, to me anyway, a fairly diverse and creative group. There was a freelance journalist, a short story writer, a self-taught applied physician turned IT guru, a copy writer-novelist and myself a blogger-copy writer. I love to hear people’s back stories and how they got to where they are now. Then the ideas flew about how to get new work and progress in our chosen metier.
After choosing our drinks downstairs at the counter, staff brought them to us upstairs. It’s a large space with a myriad of artwork on the walls and a mixture of seating including some comfy sofas. It’s a relaxed and spacious room with windows on two sides facing south and west so with lots of natural light. In the background you can hear the hubbub of the bustling street life down below as people saunter along Kensington Gardens.
Cafe Delice is actually a French bistro serving up some delicious sounding food for lunch and dinner. In the mornings their pastries are baked fresh on the premises or you can choose from breakfasts and light bites. Later their homemade cakes go very well with your tea or coffee prepared by their fully trained baristas.
Meanwhile back at Write Club the talk was still as lively as ever even though none of us had ever met each other before. We’d had our teas and coffees and with lunch time looming it was time to move on. After all if you’re a writer you have to write not just sit around talking about it.