The go-to site for what makes life worth living in and around Petersfield, Hampshire, and some other stuff too. For flaneurs, bon vivants, indeed boulevardiers of every complexion - why go anywhere else?

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The Unicorn, Heyshott

10 miles east of Petersfield, about 4 miles south of Midhurst. Heyshott is a lovely village but its pub always let it down - staid and stuffy and far too closely tied to Kings of Horsham. Kings' beer is acceptable enough but nowadays we all like a bit more variety in our drinking. Reports suggest that this has all changed though and that, under friendly and enthusiastic new ownership, both the choice of beers and the atmosphere are greatly improved and it's now well worth checking out.

The location is certainly spectacular, right in the lee of the downs, with great views from the garden. Good place for a sunny spring or summer day, perhaps combined with a walk (can't be far from here to The Fox Goes Free.
)Also worth noting for the annual Guy Fawkes torchlight parade and bonfire. The Unicorn, Heyshott.. 01730 813486 GMAP

Photo courtesy of the excellent Gravelroots website.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Lost in the supermarket: 'The Mist'

Terrific adaptation of Stephen King's novella by Frank Darabont, director of other King works The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. Synopsis: after a violent storm, a mysterious mist rolls over a small New England town, trapping a representative sample of the local populace in the supermarket. Very bad stuff ensues.

I've always maintained that King is the anti-Spielberg (showing the horror, rather than the wonder, that lies beneath beneath the surface of small-town America) and 'The Mist' is somewhat like the anti-ET - the small but significant difference being that the beastie from god-knows-where in this one would rip your liver out or flay you alive long before you had any cute ideas about sticking him on the front of your bike and riding off to Little League.

It's highly derivative in parts (look out for steals from/ tributes to Jaws, Alien, The Birds and many others) but executed with such chutzpah that these merely add to the entertainment. Plenty of gruesome effects, but used with taste and discretion, and an uncompromisingly brutal ending (in the emotional rather than visceral sense). All very much hide-behind-the-sofa suspense rather than the stuff of nightmares though. Recommended for strong stomachs of thirteen years or so upwards, particularly recommended for those who think Dr Who is the ne plus ultra of this kind of material. Excellent family viewing, in fact...

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

It's Christmas ! etc. Where should you go?

Just a few of the hip consumer’s favourite destinations at this time of the year...

Eating in...

Rowan's Delicatessen
, Lavant Street, Petersfield. Great comestibles, drink and cigars, a cafe to put your feet up in and a particularly fine place at Christmas for stocking fillers, sweetmeats and fancy stuff. Gentlemen's Relish? Don't mind if we do... 01730 262600
Bran Tub
, organic fruit and nuts, vegetarian and healthy alternatives... if they would only cheer up, it could be just like Christmas. Lavant Street, Petersfield. 01730 267043.
Petersfield Market
Every Saturday up to Christmas, including Organick for your organic fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, eggs and honey, Bryants for as good a range of quality fruit and vegetables as you'll find in any of the supermarkets, some great South African ... uh... is 'delicacies' the word? Not just that, but an increasing range of arts and crafts, carvings, ethnic clothes and jewellery, Chinese paintings (to order if you ask - myPetersfield did) ... try it first before you shop for stocking fillers elsewhere....
Djangos Excellent coffee beans and freshly ground coffee for your machine from a list of boutique blends in a shop above our favourite Petersfield cafe - look out for Djangos' Bireli
Hampshire Farmers' Markets. Too many great stalls to individually list, but always on the hipster’s visiting list is · Ashmore Farmhouse Cheese · Bookham Cheese and Pasta (fantastic 'Farmer's Hand' which you won't believe isn't parmesan) · Bowtell's Farm Shop, meat and game and famous sausages · Dorset Blueberry Company, all year with pies, pastries, drinks and, in season, blueberries · Secrett's, amazing vegetables and salad leaves from Milford · Isle of Wight Tomatoes... and chillies, and aubergines, and tomato products... and garlic.. · Long Crichel Bakery, traditional breads and cakes... · Itchen Valley Brewery · Loosehanger Farmhouse Cheeses, medal-winning Ayrshire cowsmilk and goatsmilk cheeses... their garlic and nettle is seriously addictive... · Peter Mushrooms, fresh mushrooms + soups, pates, ketchups, and a hot mushroom roll as an alternative to the hog roast for all you vegetarians... · Pollen Organics, sauces, pestos, mayonnaises · The Garlic Farm, brilliant range of fresh, smoked and preserved garlic and garlic products. · Potts' Pantry, locally produced pastries, pattiseries and confections, absolutely wonderful... And much more, including most of the local good farmers offering more geese, chicken, turkeys, game and other meats than you can shake a festive stick at, to buy or to order. With a decent size freezer, you can do a big part of your Christmas food shopping right here. More about the farmers' markets here: and at 01420 588671.
The General Wine Company
, Liphook and Midhurst. By appointment to your hip correspondent, fabulous range of wines from all regions at all price points, with unfussy but well-informed advice thrown in gratis. Great range of spirits, cigars and beers too, plus corkscrews, foil cutters, glasses and other drinkers requisites (and gifts). There's just no excuse for buying at supermarkets or online - GWC offers a better range, keen keen prices and a stack more engagement and enjoyment. Main branch: 25, Station Road, Liphook. 01428 727744. Junior branch, High Street, Midhurst (just as good but half the size and stock).
, Wyld's Farm, Liss. Nick and Sophia Rook-Blackstone's organic farm out west of Liss supplies great fruit, vegetables and other produce through their farm shop (9-5, Thursday and Friday), the Petersfield Saturday Market, the monthly Farmer's Market in Petersfield square and their home-delivery organic box scheme - and Christmas trees too. Warren Road, Liss. 01730 891490 or
Hammer Trout Farm and Smokery
, Liphook. One of the oldest fisheries and smokehouses in England, producing not just smoked trout but meat, poultry, game, pates and more. Also at the Farmers' Markets. Hewshott Lane, Liphook, Hants. GU30 7SU. 01428 727508.
Rother Valley Organics wholly organic farmers and butchers near Nyewood, off the A272 south of Rogate. Beef, pork, lamb and mutton, chicken, duck and goose... fully traceable meats from grazing through butchery to plate. Online shopping and home delivery or you can visit, buy and collect during normal butcher's hours (9 to 4 or thereabouts during the week, 9 till 1 on Saturdays). Sandilands Farm, Rogate, Petersfield, Hants, GU31 5HU 01730 821062 GMAP.
Jeffersons, Midhurst (West Street). Organic butcher, and fishmonger too. Good range of sauces and pickles. 01730 813135
Harveys' brewery shop, next to the Bottle and Jug in Lion Street, Midhurst. Outlet for the excellent Harveys brewery in Lewes, East Sussex. Fantastic range of bottled beers, from low-alcohol to 8 and 9° winter specials. Draught beers to take away, good range of wines and ports, including a a great range of English wines. Glasses, gifts and Harveys 'breweryana'. Recommended. 01730 810709,
Durleighmarsh Farm
, fruit, veg, meat and more. Fantastic range of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers to pick yourself or buy in the shop. Environmentally sympathetic farming methods. Good range of Christmas stuff (not before December 1, which merits praise in itself)) including poultry, holly, Christmas trees, mistletoe... lovely place. Find it between Petersfield and Rogate on the A272. 01730 821626.
Grange Farm, Grange Farm, Lovely farm shop at Empshott, signposted about four miles west of Liss on the Selborne road (B3006). Free range pork, lamb, chicken, geese, Aberdeen Angus beef, own products and local bread, fruit, vegetables and deli. Great at Christmas. Open Tuesday - Saturday 8.30am to 5.30pm, Sunday 10am to 1pm. 01420 538104. More here.
Mr Whiteheads Cider Company
. Real traditional cider, scrumpy and perry without additives or preservatives. Range of strengths and flavours including interesting single varietal ciders. Sold in many local shops, pubs and markets but also direct from source, here, in bottles, barrels or polypins. Also local bottled beers and English wines. The Old Granary, Hartley Park Farm, Selborne, Alton, Hampshire GU34 3HS. Half way between Selborne and Alton. 01420 511733. Finally, if you must visit a supermarket (and let's face it, we all must at times), think about giving Budgens in Midhurst a try. They make a real effort to stock a proper range of local producers (and a full range of their produce) and deserve some encouragement... and you're likely to find a few pleasant surprises there.

Eating out...
So many fine places to eat out at Christmas around Petersfield, but if you're looking for that Falstaffian, Pickwickian sense of replete rotundity, of all's-well-with-the-world and hail-fellow-well-met (and frankly it's what we want at this time of the year), we'd particularly recommend the following...
The Thomas Lord. Appearing in both pub and restaurant columns, it's a great place to drop in for a pint, but come back for a meal and be as amazed as we were at the quality of the food. Highly skilled but not madly ostentatious cooking, drawing on local suppliers and traditional English menus (in the best way), so anticipate game, fish, organic vegetables and old-fashioned puddings all prepared with great attention to flavour, beautifully presented and balanced. Excellent wine list with many available by small or large glass, half or full bottle. A real clubby atmosphere (in the best way) with roaring fires and big leather chairs, the Lord can comfortably accommodate anything from dinner à deux to large parties. Proper linen and heavy cutlery is a nice touch. Real value too - even the bill comes as a pleasant surprise. Just fabulous, and our dining pub of the year (Western front). 01730 829244. GMAP Also see our pub review here.
The Trooper Inn, Froxfield, 3 miles. Very much a dining pub and pretty much an out and out restaurant, with room for a hundred or more covers in two bars and any number of alcoves and annexes. The specials blackboard changes ever day and features a great range of genuinely tempting dishes, running from British classics delivered with imagination through modern European to a good handful of Asian-influenced dishes, backed up by a substantial a la carte menu. Shellfish features strongly. Excellent wine list is supplied by the General Wine Company. Place is warm and welcoming, a big fire going in the main bar and the walls dense with photographs and posters, hopbines and all that caper. The food enjoys an excellent reputation, it's a nice space to sit in, the staff know their onions and few visitors are going to be disappointed. Alton Rd, Froxfield. 01730 827 293 GMAP
The Keepers Arms. A finer and more consistent dining experience than it has ever been. Taken over and revamped in 2007 and given a design makeover appropriate to its shorter, sharper menu. Gets consistently great feedback, producing modern British food of an extremely high standard. Nicely balanced wine list and warm service. Undeniably more of a restaurant than a pub, but the generous lounging space in big leather sofas and armchairs by the fire give it a great, relaxed feel. Our dining pub of the year (Eastern front). 01730 813724 GMAP.
The Harrow, Steep, 2 miles; For lunch on a cold day within ten minutes of Petersfield centre, close to unbeatable. Beer strictly from the barrel, pea and ham soup that your spoon will stand up in and ye treacle tarte of Olde Englande. Who could wish for more? Tiny though, so get there early or late. 01730 262685. GMAP
The Hawkley Inn, Hawkley, 5 miles; everything you want a country pub to be; walking boots, wellies, horses, bikes, great beer and cider, rib-sticking pub grub, fire, moose, big garden. Seven beers change every week, always plenty of local ales. Get there: Follow signs for Hawkley from West Liss (Hawkley Road runs up the side of the Spread Eagle). 01730 827205, more at GMAP
The Pub With No Name (aka the White Horse). Priors Dean, 4 miles. Big old pub in remote, appealingly bleak spot high up on the downs. Two snug bars inside, candle-lit and cluttered with old furniture have a dark, Jacobean feel which, in winter, warmed by open fires, is wonderfully welcoming. A brighter and lighter restaurant has been extended at the back, but we recommend eating in the bar. Food is traditional pub stuff but skilfully handled with excellent ingredients contributing to a good repertoire of standards backed by regularly changing specials. Excellent range of ales including its own No-Name bitter. Highly recommended. Check main listing for directions. Priors Dean, Hampshire, 01420 588387 GMAP
Three Horseshoes
, Elsted. 7 miles. Ancient pub, great atmosphere, spectacular views over the downs, blazing fires inside, really very good. Food is classic British... Sussex lamb cutlets, Selsey crab, Scottish mussels, lobster salad, venison, Dover sole, and some extremely toothsome puddings. Beers are from the barrel, wine list is short but good. A local great. 01730 825746. GMAP

Sick of the same old, same old? The press of the crowds, the soul-destroying homogeneity of the Christmas High Street? Here are some better places to shed your money and feel like you're having a nice time... and if they don’t do it for you, try Weald and Downland Open Air Museum Fabulous place to visit and a really nice shop too - really unusual stuff, worth a look at Christmas in particular, full of amazing stocking fillers. A Christmas favourite. Town Lane, Singleton, Chichester 01243 811363
brand. Good pitstop for coffee, chocolate, cake or lunch too... In Bakery Lane - the alley between Waitrose car park and Chapel Street. 01730 269847.

Petersfield’s best shopping

One Tree Books. Petersfield's biggest independent stockist of new books and a lot more - cards, games, coffee shop (no bacon sandwiches but excellent bara brith)... Now on two floors and offering tickets for local events too. Great hub for local readers and writers, offering a regular book club and readings. Support your local bookslinger...7 Lavant Street, 01730 261199.

The Petersfield Bookshop, cavernous, fascinating second hand bookshop dating back almost a century and featuring everything from dog-eared paperbacks (available 24x7 in the forecourt) to real antiquarian stock, plus old maps and prints.  Good selection of new stock in the front too, and an art supplies and framing department which boasts a Royal warrant. Well worth an afternoon's rootle.  16A Chapel Street 01730 263438, mail

Academy Arts Centre fine selection of artists and craft materials, and a gift section which includes interesting small ceramics, paintings and jewellery. Framing too. Winton Road, 01730 261 624, mail:

Bonica. Fabulous floral arrangements. Very special indeed.  Pages Court, off the High Street. 01730 267444. Some very nice gifts too - flowerpots, vases and more. Online orders too.

The Blacksmith's Daughter. Not your everyday florist. Good selection of flowers and arrangements and more besides. Regular floristry workshops. Bakery Lane (off Waitrose carpark. Why [oh why] would you buy your flowers at Waitrose?). 01730 261611.

Tricot Too, Dragon Street, cool Scandinavian style, clothes nicely arranged by colour and shade. Lots of Nordic-style stuff for kitchen and garden too. And Crocs. Very classy... 01730 231 218

Twenty the High Street, really very nice clothes -  for women only, regrettably....20 The High Street (surprisingly), Petersfield. Tel: 01730 265466

Hackman and Potter opened its doors on December 1st in Dragon Street. Beautiful gifts and Finnish-inspired furniture. Not cheap, but not tacky either. Really exceptional stuff in fact. With Tricot Too next door, the south end of Petersfield high street is starting to become a real design destination. 2, Dragon Street. 01730 710011.

Far Horizons Gallery, Folly Lane, amazing range of gifts and jewellery from around the world, striking absence of tat. 1 Folly Lane, 01730 265864.

Inside Out. Nice selection of gifts, frames and decorative stuff. Add it to your Christmas circuit. Bottom of Bakery Lane, off the Waitrose car park. 01730 710717

Cute, Pages Court, High Street, Petersfield. Very nice clothes and toys for small children. Wooden and traditional toys, continental clothing, lovely stuff now packed into a sensible space since their move to Pages Court. Cards and wrapping, perfect for last-minute presents for the under 3 (feet). 01730 300900

Armorica, Rams Walk. Great range of classy and practical kitchen and cooking gear. Small but select range of electrical equipment upstairs - blenders, processors and so on. Serious about cooking but friendly local service. Good online site too and a fantastic specialist site for cook's knives - the biggest we've come across. 08456 017 262.

Petersfield Electrical Services, Lavant Street. Why trek down the A3 to a soulless warehouse when PES has already picked out an excellent range of white goods and audio-visual equipment? All your top brands at internet-matching prices pus great local service, spares, advice ... and not a spotty Herbert in sight. 01730 263 242

Petersfield Photographic, Lavant Street. Great source of leading camera brands, developing and printing services and all-important advice from people familiar with the kind of camera you don't also make phone calls on ... Passport photos, frames, accessories...  fabulous Crumpler bags too! D&P by appointment to the Hipster... 01730 263848.

The Music Station Lurking up Bakery Lane between Waitrose Car Park and Chapel Street. If Santa specialised in hard-to-find vinyl, tapes and CDs, this is how his grotto would look. Very friendly, buys as well as sells (maybe more than)... surprisingly good jazz collection. Just about the only source of non-chainstore music in Petersfield. Also a welcome source of picks and strings 'n' things for guitarists who can't be bothered driving to Guitar Village in Farnham or Nevada in Portsmouth.

Qube All your philosophically challenging requisites under one virtual roof. Intriguing and worth a look. 01730 895222.

Citroen Care, Rake, 5 miles. Yes, yes, we know, you don't drive a Citroen, but really, that's just the name of the shop. Servicing and MOT work, tyres, bodyshop on all makes of car, very friendly, great prices, terrific quality of service. By appointment these many years to the hipster's extensive fleet and can't be recommended highly enough. If you're out of warranty, say farewell to can't-be-arsed main dealership misery. Unit 12/Rake Business Park, Rake, Liss GU33 7PN, 01730 894994.

U-Do DIY, Liss, 4 miles. Brilliant, tardis-like emporium on Station Road in Liss which manages to cram a substantial part of both B&Q and PC World into a space only slightly larger than a telephone box. All kinds of hard-to-find parts and spares, and avoid the pain and profanity of skinned knuckles and bashed thumbs with the advice given gratis with or without purchase. Enquire within for anything. Great place. 01730 894437

Midhurst and further afield

Cabbage White, Midhurst. Very lovely and classy stuff for home and garden. Knockhundred Row, 01730 814555.

WildWood Charcoal and Coppice Products. Beautiful things made from locally coppiced hazel, chestnut and oak - everything from coathooks to fencing, benches, chairs... . barbecue and artist's charcoal too. At the farmwrs' markets too and most of the  big country shows. Halnaker, West Sussex 01243 778106,


Pages Court is hot!

No, bear with me, it really is. The town's best florist (Bonica) and best independent children's shop (Cute) have been joined by a terrific new cafe (monoloco) and FlipFlop, which is hard to describe other than by saying that it walks a precarious path between inspired and nuts in its presentation of extraordinary furniture, lighting, ceramics and the kind of geegaws and wimwams for which 'gifts' is far too small a word. 

Almost no-one knows FlipFlop exists because it thumbs its nose at the very idea of promotion and advertising. Do youself a favour and go hunt it out, stopping on the way out or the way in for breakfast or lunch at monoloco. The breakfast menu includes scrambled duck eggs with a choice of organic local (very smokey) bacon or sausages, or kedgeree, or a fantastic looking full Blighty.Vegetarians get something built around home-baked beans and damned good it looked too. Lunch specials look pretty inspired too. Doesn't (yet) have Djangos' charm (or its exceptional coffee), but it's a nice place and the food, on first encounter, makes it a real contender. . .

Pages Court: it's what shopping malls would be like if they were small and any good. It's the Ram's Walk that it's OK to like.