My Favourite Places: Dog-friendly eateries
Dr John Mason MBE is one of the founders of The South Downs Planetarium at Chichester, which has some great family-friendly shows (see end of post).
Strangely I met him not here in Sussex but on board a ship in Norway. We were off across the Arctic Circle to see the fabulous Northern Lights (of which more in another post) and John was the very enthusiastic lecturer guiding the way. In fact he has travelled all over the world helping people chase the Northern Lights, solar eclipses and the like.
Back in Sussex, with golden retriever ‘Frog’ a constant companion he seeks out places that also make her feel welcome. Here are some of his favourites…
Steyning Tea Rooms, Steyning
“I love Rhubarb and they do the best rhubarb scones I’ve ever had here and it’s dog friendly.”
This traditional tea rooms in a 500-years-old building does a variety of seasonal scones (currently plum for winter) and makes fab cakes, some of which can be ordered for parties. I’ve tucked in here myself and very good it was too.
The Fox Goes Free, Charlton near Goodwood
“I liek the Fox Goes Free because it’s a very dog-friendly and family-friendly pub. The WI in England had its first ever meeting in the back room there in 1915!”
In fact, fact fans, not only has this pub with a large garden and views of the South Downs featured in various documentaries relating to the Women’s Institute’s centenary last year, a 1975 episode of Dr Who called Terror of the Zygons was also filmed there!
The Forge Slindon café and shop
“The Forge café at Slindon, where my wife teaches, is very good. There was a pub and a shop that closed and the village raised money to open this place. It’s a wonderful example of what a community can do if it pulls together. And now the place is heavily used because so many others have discovered it.”
This convenience store, deli / farm shop is close to the National Trust’s Slindon Estate and there are three walking trails from the Forge, which can be downloaded on your smartphone. It sells popular take-away sausages rolls and tartlets if you’re just passing through and is licensed if you’re lingering.
South Lodge at Lower Beeding, near Horsham
“South Lodge treated our dog like she was a five-star client. Because we couldn’t eat with her in the dining room they set up a table in another room by a fire, with a bowl for the dog and they fussed over her. They didn’t need to do that but to me that matters.”
This luxury country house hotel is a Muddy Stilettos Sussex award winner. It has two restaurants, a cocktail bar, private dining rooms and various spots to enjoy a decadent afternoon tea.
Dark Sky sites of the South Downs
“The South Downs were this year designated a Dark Sky Reserve. There are lots of dark places near Petersfield and Midhurst, Washington, Devil’s Dyke, Bignor Hill and other places. Within 30 minutes of millions of people you can find a very dark sky. You’ll see things with the naked eye or a good pair of binoculars, or a £300 – £400 telescope will last you a lifetime. We have a dark sky festival coming up in February with a family stargazing day on 18 February and there will be star-gazing sessions all along the South Downs.”
Forthcoming shows at South Downs Planetarium:
One Small Step for Major Tim, A giant Leap for Mars, Mon 12 to Wed 14 Dec (Thurs sold out) 7.30pm
This immersive full dome show looks at Chichester born Tim Peake’s mission on the International Space Station and the likely future of space travel.
The Star of Bethlehem, Wed 21 – Sat 24 Dec (various times)
An astronomical detective story of interest to both Christians and non-Christians, the planetarium explores the possible origins of the famous bright star that appeared at the time suggested by the Bible.