007: An afternoon in Lewes
The picturesque little town of Lewes is just a 15 minute drive away from where my parents live in Brighton but I haven't been there in years, and after a blissful Sunday afternoon there last weekend I cannot for the life of me work out why I left it so long!
Lewes is set just back from the south coast, 10 miles north west of Brighton, and is steeped in history–its castle was built in 1069 and still stands proudly at the top of the high street.
(The castle is also open to visitors find out more here: Lewes Castle)
With its unique collection of independent shops and cafes and its high antique store to shopper ratio it's too easy to wile away the day here never mind making it out for a walk along the River Ouse.
The antiques stores in Lewes are some of the biggest I've ever set foot in. The Lewes Antiques Centre in particular is spread out over 5 floors. 5 Floors! That's a lot of antiques and it means there's plenty of space to roam around at your own pace and find those hidden gems you'll cherish forever.
The high street is lovely don't get me wrong, and it is where the majority of the shops are, but if you're looking for a quiet restaurant, an outstanding coffee shop or just a peaceful stroll away from the crowds then turn down one of the many adjoining roads and you'll find something very special. Some of these little side roads are not even big enough to fit a car down which means no worrying about being run over when you can't stop taking pictures of beautiful flint cottages and there are good old English pubs tucked away amongst the houses, coffee shops in the sun and of course an antique shop or two. Just remember if you choose to walk South of the high street you will have to climb back up again!
The shops in Lewes are worthy of admiration whether you need to buy anything or not–everything looks and feels like a historic film set. One of my favourites is Flint. There's something dream like about their aesthetic and they really know how to style an interior. Be warned though they are not open on a Sunday but if you like unique and interesting finds, calming colour combinations and a hint of 'rusticness' then you're in for a treat.
Lewes is also known for its markets. If you're planning a trip make sure you check out when they're on. I am yet to make it to one but I have heard great things.
Now, no town visit is complete without testing the local cuisine is it?
For me the highlight of our trip this weekend was stumbling across a little restaurant called Limetree Kitchen. We had wandered down a side road (taking my own advice) and were on the look out for a pub garden, preferably in the sun but more importantly somewhere peaceful with good food. We don't ask for much. After eyeing up a couple of menus we very nearly walked straight past the unassuming entrance to Limetree Kitchen when something about it caught my eye. I honestly could not tell you what made me stop but something did and it would appear my sixth sense was on form that day.
This is not a restaurant review so I will not ramble on about the experience but what I will say is GO THERE. The front of house manager and the chef were both extremely friendly–we felt like we'd just walked into someone's home. We found a sheltered, sun drenched spot in the secluded little garden at the back of the restaurant and I really could have sat there all day. The food comes as sharing plates, a style I am a huge fan of as I can never decide on just one dish, and is all locally sourced, ethically produced and perfectly prepared.
The perfect little coffee stop
Ground Coffee House "friendly people sharing a passion for speciality coffee, home cooked food and craft beers" I mean what more could you ask for?
Lewes feels like it was built for Sundays and the slow paced lifestyle makes it the perfect place to escape from London when city life is feeling a little overwhelming.