A couple of days ago I went off to Chichester with lunch and shopping and art in mind. I went to Cafe Paradiso, a veggie cafe that M--- and I used to frequent, and had my favourite veggie lasagna, lettuce, tomato and wheat berry, washed down by a cup of black coffee. About 400 kcals, I reckoned. Then I strolled around Chichester, which has some very good shops indeed.
If you don't know anything about Chichester, let me fill you in a bit. It's a small cathedral city built in stone and redbrick and flint, with an ancient defensive wall and surrounded by countryside at the west end of West Sussex, about an hour from where I live. It was called Noviomagus in Roman times ('The something magician?' - that can't be right!) and has at its heart a medieval Market Cross from which four shopping streets radiate, aligned to the four points of the compass, and these split the town centre into four quarters. The lovely cathedral with its commanding spire is in the south-west quarter. The city is on a flat plain between the South Downs and the sea, and not far from the vast watery delights of Chichester Harbour. The whole area is historic, full of quaint buildings, prosperous, yachty. It's no coincidence that the Romans built villas close by (notably at Fishbourne), that the famous and fashionable Goodwood racecourse is up on the scenic Downs that overlook the city, that the Goodwood motor racing circuit and the Rolls Royce car plant are just out of town, and that King Canute (who failed to stop the incoming tide) and King Harold (the doomed Saxon monarch who lost England to the Normans in 1066) are both associated with Bosham, the picturesque harbour village just a few miles away - a great spot for a cup of tea and toasted teacake, and for watching bobbing boats in the sunset. But Chichester also has a major provincial theatre - the Festival Theatre - and the Pallant House Gallery, which displays a little of everything, from Picasso to Cezanne to Paul Nash, even stuff from the St Ives School, plus proper contemporary exhibitions. The Gallery was on my list of places to drop into that day, actually more essential than the shopping.
You know, I really don't know why I haven't moved to Chichester. It's no Brighton, but much more suited to my preferred lifestyle. However, in the past M--- and I considered it vulnerable to global warming, and indeed it would be very much at risk if the sea level rose by a few metres. But that concern has abated somewhat, and Chichester no longer seems certain to disappear under the waves in my lifetime and foster legends of the Lost Land of Lyonesse or whatever. The only snag about moving there, or anywhere nearby, is the premium you pay for living in such a nice area: house and flat prices are sky high.
Oh dear, I am well off-topic! Well, after the yummy (but quite virtuous) veggie lunch, I set off southwards towards the Market Cross, noting shop-window bargains in a fabric shop on the way (that I never got round to checking out). At the Cross, I turned west to the House of Fraser department store, then back to the Cross, and then south again. And the Cath Kidston shop drew me in. And there was a stout but pretty plastic-and-fabric shopping bag in slate blue ('National Trust blue' I'd call it) with white spots. This was something I had to have. And in a twinkling it was mine. I was so pleased. I'd been looking for a replacement shopping bag for months. It's not just for 'shopping' per se; bags like this do duty as something to put documents and cardigans and sports gear into. Anything but messy stuff that might spoil it. And this was a superior article, with leather fasteners, and interior pockets. A kind of fashion item, in a way, but very practical. I have plainer fabric bags for supermarket items. Even these must look good resting on Fiona's back seat, but they can be slightly abused in a way that my new Cath Kidston bag won't be!
So what does it look like?
Proud owner shows it off at home.
Yup, nice interior!
Perfect for the evening's badminton.
And it gets Ted's seal of approval.
I'll tell you about the badminton in my next post. Not the score - that doesn't matter - but its beneficial effects!