Basil’s Brush With ...
Basil’s Review & Critique
Basil’s Brush With ...
John Smith’s Great British Pub Awards 2017, ‘Best Inn of the Year’…wow – seems like the perfect place to visit. This month, Basil Reviews The White Horse near Chichester, a former coaching inn dating back to 1765 – let’s dig deep (as Basil loves a good old dig) and see what all the fuss is about. Bottoms up!
From my usual vantage point, all I could see were trees all around and you know what that means? Yep, sticks! An abundance of them! I was happy. So, it would seem, were my Human Parents (or HPs as you by now know I playfully prefer to call them) as they pointed out our destination – a beaut looking white painted building, situated just off the main road.
Although there were many cars already in the car park (‘obviously a popular location for lunch’, Mum casually shared) Dad had plenty of choice of spaces and after much discussion between themselves, they selected a spot close to an adjoining grass-field. ‘Time for your wee, Basil.’
I duly jumped out of the boot, shook off the confinement of travel and took a stroll with my HPs through a mown grass trail. Mission accomplished, we headed back towards the Inn, brushing past the lavender lined pathway as we went.
With my coat now pleasantly scented, I seemed to attract much waggy-tailed attention from the billabong’s other four-legged guests. In particular, a friendly Lurcher/Wheaten Terrier cross (named Sam) and a Collie/Labrador cross (named Ellie) who approached me to rub noses. Briefly stopping to say G’day, well, it would be rude not to, I trotted alongside my HPs as we made our way towards the central reception desk – a country pub personified, we passed, would you believe, a container full of indoor sticks – which, Mum informed me, were handmade walking sticks –indoor, outdoor… all sticks are a great source of fun in my world! Deeper into the heart of the property, I noticed the gesture to woodland creatures decorating the walls.
Decorating the floor, meanwhile, and just as bonzer, were some more faithful hounds; a liver Springer and two Border Collies who seemed to be very chilled, sitting close to their HPs feet – perhaps they too had benefited from the lavender effect!
Even though we arrived slightly earlier than the 3.00pm check in time, the good news was that our bedroom was ready so a lady warmly presented Mum with the key – smiles crept over Mum’s face as it was a ‘real key’, whatever significance that may have – I sat patiently close by whilst paperwork was checked and Dad busied himself checking out the beers on tap!
Charlie offered to show us to our room… Walking back past my canine pals, we briefly ‘pawsed’ to take in the The Snug area (mental note to self that the chairs and sofa looked very comfy to visit later)…
Strolling out of the rustic door, passing the stacked wood pile, we made our way through the Courtyard. Happily chatting about the venue, Charlie pointed towards our room which was the first wooden outbuilding on the right, apparently ‘built 15 years ago’.
Whilst taking in the surroundings, Mum made a comment to Dad of how charming the row of cottage-like bedrooms looked– ‘it feels like they are in the middle of an oasis of open fields and countryside’, she cooed and before she could forget, quickly jotted down the analogy into her notebook.
Briefly taking stock of what will be our home for 24 hours before entering, we noticed the brass plaque on the door. Aptly named after the woodland creatures found in the South Downs no doubt. Sweet as!
Although no pear trees were present, a fine olive tree stood majestically on the approach which was set off by potted flowers and hanging baskets and its own welcoming doormat.
Once Mum had turned the ‘real key’ in the lock the solid wooden door opened up into a spacious accommodation which we all thought looked very stylish. I was happy to see a rather lovely looking bed for me – very posh faux fur cushion– along with a food & water bowl and, wait a minute, great galloping goannas, is that a bottle of beer I see! Now, that’s a first for me, my very own doggy beer 🙂
Talking of beer, Dad suggested as it was 2.30pm that we just drop off our bags and then go and grab a drink and a spot of late lunch. Sounded cracking to me!
The pups were still with their HPs and after some further formal introductions, I took up my pozzy on the floor by a table in the bar area. There, Dad ordered two Ploughman’s Sandwiches and promptly set-to assembling my lunch which magically appeared from his backpack. Mum spotted a board promoting ‘Quintessentially British Sparkling Wines’, she loves a glass of bubbly does Mum whilst Dad further investigated the brews on tap – ‘Tipsy Horse Ale’ was their own beer – sounded cool bananas.
Sitting on the bar top was a rather tempting bottle of chilled water, apparently ‘infused’ with cucumber – although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t really meant for me, I thought that I would like to give it a go… I didn’t think the ladies behind the bar would mind and dinky-di, they didn’t! Forever the worrier, Mum did a quick internet search to see if it was OK for me to drink vegetable water and guess what? Cucumber is actually rather good for me, especially in hot weather so this unusual treat got the thumbs up.
My HPs lunch soon arrived which was washed down with a glass of bubbly and a pint of Tipsy Horse… by all accounts the food was rather scrummy.
Once devoured, thankfully not a hint of tipsiness, it was time for us to go off on walkabout and explore, in particular, our boudoir. We ventured back out towards the outhouses which is where I first bumped into Doris.
Doris was a gentle Golden Labrador. She was the bee’s knees. Her amber eyes were stunning – captivating! My heart did a little flutter. Doris and her family were staying too, just over the way in one of the other fifteen bedrooms, apparently, all of which are dog welcoming.
Having promised to see Doris later (paws crossed) we headed off towards our accommodation. The cottage styled buildings were arranged in rows each facing the private, enclosed landscaped garden and, drum roll please… Dad pointed out a poo bin attached to the far fence! Tick off the list that one!
Planted Lavender framed some, whilst white painted wrought iron benches were to be found dotted around the front of others, ideally placed for guests to sit and absorb the view – there was just so much open space for me to run around with my ball. Perfect and, of course, there’s sticks in them there hills!
Once back in our room, I first explored the bathroom where Mum made a beeline to inspect the rolled top copper bath. Alongside the fluffy towels were Bramley products which, so she said, ‘smelled really nice with a hint of lavender’. No surprise there then.
Checking behind the door and… bingo, comfy robes! Life seemed to be very good for Mum at that moment.
Meanwhile, Dad was unpacking our bags – this time only two suitcases which is a great improvement compared to our normal ‘just in case’ array of luggage! Dad seemed to appreciate the functionality of the trendy hanging rail instead of the traditional wardrobe. ‘Nice touch’ I heard him say to himself. The king sized bed looked comfy – I eyed that one up as I liked it heaps – it was a four poster and behind it was a mural of racing cars. Observing my intrigue, ‘Goodwood connection’, Dad offered.
Next to the refreshment tray, I spied a welcome booklet entitled ‘Live, Eat & Breathe… Country Pubs’.
Apparently, the establishment isn’t a great fan of UHT Milk. Mum exhaled a sigh of relief on reading that snippet of information – fresh milk can be delivered to your door. Cue smile! I was enjoying a head scrub as Mum read out aloud to us. She continued… ‘Feather & Blacks pillows, luxurious Egyptian cotton, finest English wool throw’ – it was clear that they were speaking my Mum’s language! She went on… ‘Combining rustic elegance with contemporary design, our spacious bedrooms reflect our passion for quality and the charm of the country with luxurious steamer trunks, iconic mid-century furnishings and architectural four-poster beds.’ Some of the rooms even had their own private courtyard and hot tub!
It was a blessing in disguise that we didn’t have a hot tub as in this muggy weather, an iced bath would have defo been more appropriate. Once unpacked, noticing that the windows were framed with dense hedgerow for privacy, Mum threw them open to let some countryside air in. The final touch was to pop my clean fluffy blanket strategically onto the bed, – just in case I jumped up (who me?) and then it was time for us to explore again, this time, the terraced Courtyard was our destination!
We set off to join the many fellow guests whiling away the time, passing by the beaut looking Olive tree on the way.
‘Hey, it’s Sam and Ellie’… I had just a little time for a quick sniff between friends before selecting our seats. Dad’s mission was to get the gin and tonics! Good onya Dad!
From her seat, Mum continued to idly chat away to the other HPs, with me heftily draped over her lap. She had counted eight tables that were occupied, four, of which, by dogs and their families. The new kids on the block included a couple of outspoken Daschunds and a gentle Bichon Frise. There we sat, the only sounds to be heard being the light-hearted conversation, the occasional grumble from our German tail-waggers and the twittering of the birds… by crikey it’s hard to believe that the pub was situated just off a main carriageway.
After sampling the local gin, it was time for din-dins… even though you know that I’m braver than a dingo in the outback, I have to admit to (although being perfectly lovely) giving our European pooches a slightly wide berth, sticking to the perimeter of the Courtyard as we made our way back into the bar area.
Once inside, we were shown to our table, positioned neatly in a bay window that thankfully had plenty of space for me to sit comfortably under. I spotted a board featuring a cat. I recognised the picture as it resembled my best friend Freddie but as I’m a dog and can’t read, Mum shared with me that they apparently ‘don’t do average’ where wine is concerned and she relayed that ‘all of the best red wines are available by the glass’ concluding that ‘they’re the cat’s whiskers’.
Actually, glancing around, as well as images of White Horses, I noticed quite a few of cats… How strange! All this cat talk made me start to feel a little home sick but all was quickly forgotten when I recognised my pals Ben and Ellie and my spirits lifted when spotting the Delightful Doris and her friend – a terrier, red like me. They had all come for their tucker too!
Lovely Charlie who showed us to our bedroom when we first arrived, came over to say G’day again and offered us some menus. Mum read that the menu choices ‘were created from the freshest produce, sourced direct from the woodlands, farm and country estate, with game prepared on site.’
The starters included wood pigeon, rabbit and trout. We were, however, still rather full from our late lunch (me included) so Mum and Dad debated, and finally settled on two courses; a main and pudding. Mum plumped for the Chargrilled Chicken Breast, Avocado, Heritage Tomato & Gorgonzola Salad whilst Dad chose an 8oz rump Steak with Peppercorn Sauce.
The pub was pleasantly busy, so much so, Mum overheard that all their bedrooms were taken. ‘On a Tuesday, that’s pretty impressive’, my Mum conveyed.
Whilst waiting for our food, the conversation turned to why my HPs thought that the Inn was called The White Horse and what was with all the cat insignia?
We knew that the property had always been a coach house so perhaps that was the reason for the name? Dad took to the internet to investigate further… stumbling across a piece of trivia that he thought I might be interested in, bearing in mind that I can’t read… ‘ In the ‘olden’ days, Basil, where illiteracy was common, pubs and inns were recognised by pictorial signs.‘ ‘Ah, ha’ I thought, remembering the outdoor sign that I noticed as we turned right off the main road into the venue’s car park.
Dad continued… ‘Animal names coupled with colours were often heraldic with The White Horse being the sign of the House of Hanover – adopted by many inns to demonstrate loyalty to the new Royal dynasty.’ ‘Or…’ Dad turned and winked at me, ‘it could have just been an ideal place for the horses to be fed and rested en route from Chichester to London!’ He couldn’t find any mention of ‘cats’ though and I’m pretty sure that one of the black variety had also made a sneaky appearance on the existing pub sign.
My HPs meals arrived and they tucked in. Cracking it was too! Plenty of titbits were sent my way.
Titbits are all well and good but I wonder if Mum will think of asking if I could have a brekkie sausage (or ‘snagger’ for all my pals down under)– if I sit here, really good and give the puppy dog eyes, maybe she will read my mind!
Before Mum could say ‘isn’t that a rather curious looking picture’ – my HPs were handed some dessert menus.
Having overheard our inquisitiveness over the ‘cat’ connection, Charlie, also sensing our curiosity of the artefact asked whether we were sitting comfortably?
Affirmation received, ‘Well, let us begin…’ She went on to explain that ‘the previous landlord (of 37 years) asked a local artist and friend to paint a new pub sign. The artist produced a sign which featured a cat, claiming she was no good at painting horses but not bad at cats! The Landlord hung the sign up anyway and the pub became known locally as ‘The Swinging Pussy’. After the present owners bought the pub, they renamed it back to The White Horse and a new sign was created.’ Hence the nod to cats and perhaps as a mark of respect for the history of the pub and to its long serving landlord. What a nice little tail! (No pun intended.)
Nodding their heads in amusement, mystery solved, my HPs finally ordered. ‘Cherry Bakewell Tart with Clotted Cream’ for Mum and ‘Local Rhubarb Crumble with home made Vanilla Custard’ for Dad – no hesitation there!
In-between ordering and the arrival of the puds, my HPs chatted away with the staff. Kat came over and gave me a scrubby lug. She explained how she had rescued a dog from Uganda when working with a team of vets looking after stray dogs in Africa. His name was Keenai and he was a Basenji. Yes, it was clear that not only was the place dog (and so it would seem cat) ‘welcoming’, its staff were too!
Just time for a quick photo with Charlie, as she was soon to finish her shift … always one to oblige where photos are concerned! I liked Charlie and Kat, a lot!
Dessert arrived and yep, they were both scrummy. (Mum gave me a nibble to go with my kibble 😉 I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it ☺
It was soon time to retire and veg out in The Snug. The fire wasn’t lit (thank goodness as it was a rather hot evening) and although there were many board games that we could have played together, we were quite content just to sink into the comfy leather chairs, after all for a dog’s life it had been such a tiring day!
My HPs enjoyed a nightcap before strolling back to the bedroom and allowing me the chance to take my evening constitutionals! It was such a lovely evening and it was beaut to feel the cool air on my face.
Once back inside, we all settled down to sleep – the countryside breeze wafted in from the open windows and the electric fan in the room helped quell the temperature during this mini heat wave – it was so quiet that we managed to drift off to a sleep within minutes of our heads hitting our pillows or, in my case, my luxurious fur lined cushion.
We woke to the sound of birds singing and to Mum’s delight, a little bottle of fresh milk had been delivered to our door. I popped out onto the lawn with Dad whilst Mum made a fresh cuppa for us.
It was soon time to make our way into breakfast and to once again bid an affectionate G’day to Delightful Doris, I so hoped she was going to be there. Yes, I was so pleased to see her again.
Whilst I was busy high five pawing, Mum took the opportunity as the pub was quiet to investigate the Private Dining Room and main dining area – which is a ‘pooch free’ zone as, as strange as it may sound, not everyone thinks of us pooches as man’s best friend… I know, hard to believe, right 😉
So, meanwhile, back at the ranch, after taking a gander at the continental breakfast on offer, conversation was taking place over the Breakfast menu…
‘That will be ‘Charles Smoke Trout & Scrambled Eggs on a Toasted Muffin’ then for us.’ Dad stated as he placed the order. I sat, hopeful as ever, and as if by divine intervention, Grace, the lady taking our order enquired… ‘And, does Basil want a sausage?’. Yes, get in there! Is that an Aussie accent I hear?
There we all sat, chilling together. Mum and Dan with their cuppas and newspapers, me with my kong and bird’s eye view of my girlfriend Delightful Doris – it was a pretty cool, relaxing experience.
I decided though that my priority was breakfast and if I sit and stare at the kitchen door ever so patiently, I was convinced my sausage would arrive in no time at all! All that concentration paid off. It worked!
After a hearty breakfast and with a heavy heart I said toodle-oo to my Delightful Doris before taking a final stroll around the grounds. Grace came along with us for the ride (us Aussies never need much of an excuse to go walkabout). Hidden behind some hedgerow was a seated bench area with an interesting looking vintage van taking pride of place… according to Grace, it’s soon to be converted into a ‘gin palace’.
Dad lifted me up and I could see over the shrubbery into the next field – which my Aussie friend had told us was used for luxury glamping and as a special outdoor function space – where my mates Ellie and Sam were presently playing.
Passing by some of the other bedrooms; Pigeon, Hare, Fallow, Roe, Stag, Pheasant, Rabbit, Snipe and Quail, we migrated towards the garden where Grace showed us a bedroom with a hot tub – next time perhaps, cosy for the winter ☺
After exchanging hooroos with Grace and saying ta-ta to Ellie & Sam, there was just enough time for me to enjoy a final run around with my ball.
After chewing a stick, I joined Mum on the bench and took in the sunshine, the view and, the sweet smell of lavender.
All too soon it was time for us to leave but not to worry, I promise to gallop back soon. We dug deep (but not in the landscaped gardens obviously) and it came up smelling of roses or, in the pub’s case, lavender! And, whenever I smell this particular scent, I’ll always think fondly of my beaut welcoming stay at The White Horse Pub & Inn. A celebration is what’s needed – the perfect excuse to crack open my doggy beer… Cheers!
A Word From Mum:
It wasn’t just the prevailing smell of lavender that brought about a sense of well-being but the location of this country dining pub, nestled within the rolling Sussex countryside.
Embracing the establishment’s philosophy, this is a place where you can ‘Live, Eat and Breathe’; to partake in some rather lovely food and some rather gorgeous wine and all with your furry family member at your side. Relax, there’s no need to rush… just sit back and enjoy the surroundings and go with the flow.
The 5 Gold Stars awarded by the AA for its accommodation is well earned and if they could give 5 Gold stars for ‘doggy’ facilities I would second that. In particular, the garden wasn’t only beautifully landscaped but so convenient for exercising pups and, having a poo bin conveniently placed within this secure lawned area just made for an even more relaxing stay for us human parents.
Is the pub welcoming? I, along with the many other HPs visiting with their pooches, would no doubt agree that the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
Perhaps a new ‘heraldic’ sign could once again be created. This time depicting a White Horse, Black Cat and a Red Dog complete with the inscription ‘all are welcome’. Now that’s what I would call a good pub sign! ☺
This little ‘tail’ was brought to you by Basil (with help from his Mum)
Basil and his Human Parents were guests of The White Horse
‘Some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses.’
Elizabeth Taylor – Actress
Basil’s review is posted ‘in his opinion’. Although he has been entirely honest about his experience, as ‘toast’, ‘tea’ and ‘sticks’ are high on his ‘happiness’ agenda, please feel free to undertake your own research too – after all he is just a dog, albeit a rather discerning one! - Karen, Basil's Mum
Creature Comfort Critique
As friends of non-pooch owners, we do appreciate that not everyone wishes to share their social space with our four legged friends. (Hard to believe, we know, however, each to their own).
We appreciate, therefore, that hotels, B&Bs and pubs/restaurants with rooms must have a tricky time striving to create the perfect environment for everyone.
Based upon those venues that we feel, as a family, have struck a perfect balance, the experience has been critiqued from a highly-attached pet owner’s perspective (also a seasoned venue find agent), rating the comfort, convenience and inclusivity that we experienced when travelling with Basil.
It’s a bit of fun, based on our own opinions but, hopefully, will be a useful insight to fellow discerning travellers.
|Ample car parking|
|Location of bedroom|
|Accommodation grounds fit for pooch|
|Bits and bobs helpful for caring for pooch|
|Inclusivity (to eat and drink together)|
|Comfort of dining area|
|Surrounding area suitable for pooches|
|Pooch information (ie walks) available|
|Overall pooch welcoming|
|Toasted to perfection (‘sanger’ was bonzer)|
|A lovely cup of tea (loved the fresh milk)|
|Accessibility to sticks (trees all around ☺)|
- The grounds - the proximity of the bedrooms to the garden couldn’t be better
- The pub was stylish and pretty as a picture
- Inclusiveness – dogs are genuinely welcomed which makes for a relaxing stay.
The Baron Lafite private dining room located in the barn seats up to 14 people boardroom style.
Suitable for meetings, workshops and corporate team building. (Outdoor space allows for a range of corporate activities.)
My Visit to Chichester:
Goodwood Estate is just 14 minutes drive from The White Horse Inn, however, we chose to visit the historic city of Chichester which is less than 20 minutes scenic drive.Back to the Top
'If you'd like to make contact and stay at the venue with your pooch, my Mum has gathered together some details for you.
Upon booking, would you mind mentioning that you read the venue's review on the Travel With Basil site?
I’d be like a dog with two tails if you did!'
The White Horse
1 High Street Chilgrove,