Southbourne might not have a marina but there is a lovely beach, and it is only a few miles from Christchurch Harbour.
If you keep your boat in this area Southbourne is well worth the short trip, by foot, bike or bus, as the place is positively buzzing with exciting new food possibilities, alongside some good ol faithfulls, such as Deli Rocks and Ludo Lounge and the wonderful Larder House. This compact street, Southbourne Grove, houses a swathe of dynamic independents.
We know we are very lucky in this area with food, bike and hike options, not mentioning the sailing grounds, but Southbourne has a certain edge with Jimmy’s Iced Coffee constantly always making us smile with his mischievous musical skills and beach skate vibe. From Gio’s feather head dress (Deli Rocks) to Sarah’s mezze mix (Velo Dom) it is obvious they love living here, and are very happy to try things out on us.
I have not even mentioned the new super stylish, vegtastic duo at Roots yet – or the boys at Conker Spirit who have been making quality, locally botanicised gin for nearly three years.
Time to walk this blessed high street:
First up is Ludo Lounge, a very popular hang out for all ages, from breakfast through to evening chill. Rub shoulders with families, baby clubs, students playing draughts and Cluedo to good old locals in for a pint, a chat or, indeed, the Monday quiz night. Most popular? The breakfast club deal at £6.95 for the full lounge or veggie breakfast with tea or filter coffee is available Monday to Friday until 12. Clifton Coffee is served here.
Here is the real deal – and some. I am greeted by the vision that is Giovanni Dora (Italian red Indian meets Keith Richards) and he hands me a cup of coffee and I chatted with a local who had popped in for some prosciutto for dinner that evening.
I move on as a Brewhouse & Kitchen has recently opened here, but before I reach it the brightly painted windows of Velo Domestique catch my eye. This is my sort of place: bikes to the left, bar ahead, kitchen over to the right and old science lab stools taking detention along the wall.
Sarah is turning out great, simple food. Try the mezze with sourdough from Bakehouse24 in Ringwood and Boscanova coffee.
This excellent café developed from a pop-up last summer and with kick starter funding has been open 10 months. I urge you to visit, with or without the bike, but they will probably fix this while you have lunch.
I am meeting old pal Geoff Phillips from Marina Projects for lunch and we have decided to eat at the Larder House. It is a favourite hub here for fine sherries/ tapas and everything fabulous in between that they can cook in the enormous wood fired oven.
Geoff knows Southbourne very well, but even he has not yet visited Velo Domestique or the Brewhouse, as he has never had the need to pass the crossroads. We need to address this I say to which Geoff adds that I also need to check out the Wight Bear Ale House. It lets you bring in a takeaway and even provides the plates – how cool is that?
And we mull over the modern delights of both Southbourne and Christchurch as we tuck into moules and wonderful meatballs on homemade pasta with slow roast passata, washed down with some fine sherries before heading upstairs to view the infamous library. This is the place to come for a crisp cocktail after hours and add a notch to James’ martini board.
The hike: Just over five miles from Christchurch Harbour to Southbourne or catch the bus/ take a taxi home. See www.gettingabout.co.uk
The little black book
www.velodomestique.co.uk – CLOSED TUESDAYS
Still to try
Brewhouse & Kitchen
(with beer masterclass sessions, a convivial atmosphere and great choice of beers)
The Wight Bear
Where to park the boat
Rossiters Boat Yard
www.rossiteryachts.co.uk call ahead on 01202 483250
www.christchurchsailingclub.co.uk / 01202 483150
For RIBs – head to RIBS Marine
Christchurch Harbour is only suitable for craft with 1.2m min draft. Limited anchoring options www.visitmyharbour.com/harbours/channel-west/christchurch
Penny’s Blog: hopshikesandbites.blogspot.co.uk