West Sussex

Beach huts and sand dunes at Littlehampton, West Sussex

Beach huts and sand dunes at Littlehampton, West Sussex | www.beautifulsimplicity.co.uk

We had a wonderful staycation back in September, exploring a bit more of our local area in East and West Sussex. Since moving to Seaford two years ago, there's definitely been less need to go away on long trips as there is so much loveliness a short drive away (coast and country). In fact, this was one of the main reasons we decided to move.

Sandy beaches are a rarity in these parts, however, so when I found out there was a sandy beach and some sand dunes at Littlehampton, I had to visit, especially as I remembered there being rather a lovely lot of beach huts nearby too....

Littlehampton has two beaches, either side of the River Arun, East Beach and West Beach.

West Beach, Littlehampton

West Beach is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with a local nature reserve, sand dunes and a sandy beach (with a fair amount of shingle too). We had a lovely time there, splashing in the sea and relaxing on the beach, followed by a wander through the sand dunes. Our little dog Misty absolutely LOVED the chance to roll around in the soft sand!

NB. there aren't many facilities here as you might expect from an SSSI - but there is a small cafe and some toilets (there are lots more across the other side of the river at East Beach).

We were lucky to have some lovely weather, so just enjoyed pottering along slowly soaking up the sunshine and blue skies and eating our picnic on the beach. And did I mention paddling in the sea? Such a treat for us to have some soft sand to walk on, as all our local beaches are shingle.

East Beach, Littlehampton

East Beach is the busier one, with lots of things to do. There is a very nice Cafe right on the beach (it's shingle here, rather than sand), plenty of parking, a family amusement park, kitesurfing.....and lots of beach huts.

The beach huts are managed by the local Council and are colour-coded in uniform rows of green, yellow and blue. I love to wander down the beach away from the crowds to find the older huts, which are much more characterful, with peeling paint. I was particularly lucky to have the most perfect blue skies with little fluffy clouds whilst I was there, so I got a little trigger happy - I hope you'll forgive me....

I think the sky blue ones might just be my favourites :)

Rustington

And on the off-chance that you haven't seen enough beach huts, if you wander eastwards along the beach until you reach Rustington, you will be rewarded with some very lovely numbers. In fact, I think these might be my favourites (apart from West Wittering, of course). But be warned, parking by the beach is pretty much non-existent here, so you are probably best to park in Littlehampton and walk.

The huts here are full of variety, but I do think their owners must collaborate as there are lovely rows of pastel ones and colourful ones, and then the blue ones...

Despite the strong light and harsh shadows, they made such a lovely backdrop, so we had to get some portraits with little Misty.

It was very hard to drag me and my camera away...

So there you have it, a little wander around the sandy beaches and beach huts of Littlehampton and Rustington - they make a lovely day trip. And if you're in the area, West Wittering, a little further west, is a beautiful sandy beach well worth a visit (and also full of pretty beach huts!). And then there's the historic town of Arundel with it's beautiful castle and gardens, Chichester, and one of my favourites, West Dean Gardens. I'm looking forward to some return visits already!

Now just in case you're a fellow beach-hut lover, I must mention my 2017 Beach Huts Printable Calendar, which features some of these beauties from West Sussex :) You can find it in my Etsy Shop.

Oh and you might like to follow along with my new Pinterest board, Beach Hut love. I shall be filling it with as many pastel and colourful pretty beach huts as I can find.



Pin this post to Pinterest

Beach huts and sand dunes at Littlehampton, West Sussex | www.beautifulsimplicity.co.uk

West Dean Gardens revisited

I was very fortunate to visit the beautiful West Dean Gardens near Chichester, West Sussex, for the second time last month (you can read about my first visit in West Dean Gardens through my macro lens). They are an independent charity (NOT National Trust) and the site is also home to West Dean College, which offers courses in creative arts and conservation, including lots of interesting gardening ones.

Dogs on short leads are welcome, which is fantastic, as it meant our recently adopted dog, Misty, could come with us. There is a lovely cafe/restaurant and some very picturesque seating areas if you want to bring your own picnic. We spent the whole day here and still didn't manage to see everything!

The gardens are huge - there are 100 acres of garden and parkland in total, including a 50 acre arboretum. My absolute favourite part is the walled cutting garden and the 13 Victorian glasshouses. I visited with my family and am very lucky that we are all (mostly) keen photographers, so stopping every minute or so to marvel and snap away was no problem. I even got to do one circuit with my macro lens, and then a second with my 50mm f1.4 lens and my sister :)

So let's start with the cutting garden shall we? An absolute riot of colour and full of bees and butterflies. Hard to pick favourites, but I fell in love with cold frame (above) full of succulents and a marvellous Geranium collection outside. And the Larkspur and Cosmos and Cornflowers and Nigella and Dahlias and.....

Beautiful isn't it? Shall we move on to the glasshouses now.... First up, is one entirely devoted to Geraniums and Fuchsias in every shade of pink and red you can imagine. Just divine!

And just next door is the potting shed, full of old tools and books and the prettiest cut flowers from the garden.

And next up another huge favourite of mine - the fern glasshouse. An absolute dream! I would have loved to have spent some time in here with my sketchbook. The details on the leaves are just incredible...

There are several tropical collections as well. I think this guy was from one of those...

The fruit and veg glasshouses are inspirational too. And now on my wish list ;) There were an abundance of chillies in every colour, size and shape imaginable as we visited shortly before the chilli fiesta started.

I hope you're not bored yet? Apologies for the picture heavy post, but there's so much to see!

I also loved the kitchen gardens, right next to the cutting garden and bursting full of healthy, colourful looking veggies and, of course, lots of flowers. The Californian Poppies are just so cheerful.

And I must just mention the incredible pergola, designed by Harold Peto in 1911 and restored after the 1987 storm. It's 300 foot long and wrapped in the most beautiful climbing plants. The Roses and Clematis were blooming when we visited and provided a lovely pop of colour. I can't imagine how much work must have gone into this and all the careful training and pruning. I'm in awe!

So that's it for now - well done if you made it to the end! I really hope I get to return soon - there's still so much we haven't seen.

For more information or to plan your visit, see the West Dean Gardens website.

If you'd like to see more photos, head over to my West Dean Gardens Flickr Album - or you can click through the embedded album below.

West Dean Gardens, Chichester

West Dean Gardens through my macro lens

I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful West Dean Gardens (near Chichester, West Sussex) with my family last weekend. Luckily for me, we are all keen photographers, so dawdling along at a snails pace to allow hundreds of photos to be taken was permitted without (much) complaining! The site is huge (90 acres) - there is so much to see and explore. I'm already planning my return visit!

I was particularly enthralled by the cutting garden and the 13 victorian glasshouses, which have been beautifully restored. I fell in love with a new (to me) flower - Larkspur - and am already hatching plans to plant a swathe of these in our garden. Larkspur is essentially an annual Delphinium and comes in blue/purple, pink and white (the ones pictured are Larkspur Sublime I think). Apparently it is easy to grow as it self seeds - finger's crossed!

The Larkspur had been planted next to some Cosmos, another firm favourite of mine. All that frothy foliage provides the perfect backdrop.

There was colour across the spectrum in the cutting garden, but I always gravitate to purples/pinks and whites (sorry to the yellow lovers amongst you!). There were butterflies and bees everywhere, including clouds of Cabbage Whites - so pretty to watch!

I absolutely loved the wild meadow bed at the end of the garden, tucked away behind the glasshouses - I much prefer my gardens wild and rambling. Must try and introduce some poppies next year!

The beautiful victorian glass houses offered incredible variety, from temperate to tropical, ferns to flowers, fruit to vegetables.

I was fascinated by these climbing ferns...

And I loved the potting shed, filled with vintage gardening paraphernalia... 

And then we have the chillies - 250 varieties of them! I had no idea there were so many... All the different shapes and sizes were laid out and labelled for visitors to look at and there were several glasshouses full of them, along with other vegetables. Very inspiring to see what is possible. 

I loved being able to see the lifecycle of vegetables growing and discovering new varieties - I might even have to have a go myself next year! And a beautiful glass house is of course now on my wish list ;)

The fruit was amazing too. The walled fruit garden housed many, many apple and pear trees, shaped in different ways. And the glass houses were filled with figs and melons and grapes - the vines were quite incredible. It was hard to believe we were in the UK!

And flowers mixed with fruit, is always a good thing. There were beds bursting with flowers throughout the walled fruit garden (with a surprisingly lovely purple and yellow colour theme) and even in the entrance.

And now onto the kitchen gardens. A mighty fine display of vegetables in prime condition. I love my greens and was very tempted to take some of these home with me!

Red Chard West Dean Gardens.jpg
Yellow_Chard_West_Dean_Gardens.jpg

The grounds at West Dean are very extensive and perfect for a picnic lunch. We found an empty table and chairs on the picturesque picnic lawn and ate our lunch under a giant willow tree overlooking parkland with grazing sheep (no decent pictures I'm afraid as I was too busy eating at this point!). They also have a lovely restaurant with seasonal dishes.

After spending most of our time in the cutting, fruit & vegetable gardens and the glasshouses, we thought we should explore a little of the rest of the grounds....

We were serenaded in the sunken garden by a couple of talented musicians, before wandering through a rather spectacular 300 foot long pergola, wrapped in the loveliest selection of climbing plants.

Pergola_West_Dean_Gardens.jpg

It made a lovely backdrop for some portraits. Thanks to my brother-in-law, I even managed to get a rare photo of my husband and I without camera rucksacks or cameras dangling from our necks!

After the pergola, we had a lovely walk through the spring garden, but rather ran out of time and energy to explore the rest of the grounds. I'll have to see the Arboretum on my next visit... Dogs are welcomed on short leads, so when we finally manage to get our furry friend, this would be a perfect place to come.

I'll leave you with a few shots of the Echinaceas from what I think was the spring garden.

Echinacea_West_Dean_Gardens.jpg

Apologies for a rather picture heavy post - but believe me, I barely even scratched the surface of the gardens! I can highly recommend a visit if you're anywhere near West Sussex - find out more on the West Dean Gardens website.


I've add a few of my favourite floral images to my Red Bubble Shop in case you are interested - they make rather lovely greeting cards and postcards. Also available as fine art prints, phone cases, bags, pouches, notebooks and more :)


Beach hut hunting in West Sussex

Those of you who've been following along for a while, will know that I have a bit of a thing about beach huts, especially pretty colourful ones. There's something so very photogenic about a row of brightly coloured huts by the sea, nestled in some dunes or sunning themselves against a big blue sky... It's impossible for me to walk past without getting my camera out!

In fact, I'm on a bit of a mission to hunt out all the beach huts in East and West Sussex. I think the stripey numbers at West Wittering are my favourites so far. But last weekend was the turn of Littlehampton and East Preston, thanks to some top tips from fellow beach hut lover SeasideLucy.

It was one of those lovely meandering days, where the plan goes out the window, and you just go with how you feel. We started out at Arundel, and had a lovely mooch around the castle's beautiful gardens, and a spot of lunch in the sunshine, before heading to Littlehampton.

It was bright and sunny, but very windy, and surprisingly nippy for this time of year. So we popped inside the East Beach Cafe (which has the most amazing location, right on the beach) for a cup of tea, staring out the huge windows at the sea. The food looked amazing, so next time we visit, I'm definitely going to eat there!

The beach huts in Littlehampton are all very uniform, but the neat rows of green, blue and yellow are very cheerful indeed.

Then it was onwards to East Preston. We didn't really know where we were going, just that there were some pretty beach huts *somewhere* between Littlehampton and East Preston. But I think the mystery all adds to the fun! So we parked up in the middle of East Preston and headed for the sea (if you are looking for the huts, you will find them somewhere near Sea Avenue, but you can't park there, as there is a large, private estate).

It was the perfect day for kite flying, as well as beach hut hunting!

In true Zoë style, I started off in the wrong direction. But no matter, it was such a lovely day for a walk. We packed up the kite and headed in the right direction and kept walking, and walking, determined to find them. And we were rewarded with the prettiest of rainbows, and a lovely quiet beach. I may have let out a little shriek!

I don't know if it's happenstance, or by design, but the juxtapositioning of all these colours is so delightful. I took my time wandering along slowly, snapping away, drinking it all in. 

I was one tired, but very happy Zoë, by the end of the day! It's hard to beat sitting on the beach in the afternoon sunshine, staring at the sea, listening to the waves and the gulls, with a rainbow of beach huts right beside you :)

I'd love to know about any other great spots for beach huts in East/West Sussex. I've found a few in Eastbourne, and the ones in my home town Seaford, of course. Plus there's the much-photographed ones in Hove and the stripey beauties in West Wittering. But I'm sure there must be more! I'd love it if you left me some recommendations in the comments - thanks so much in advance :)

Pretty pastel beach hut love

I was super excited to finally make it to West Wittering on a beautiful sunny day last week. West Wittering is beach hut paradise, complete with soft sand dunes, and has been on my hit list for quite some time. Well, let's just say I fell in love!

Imagine row upon row of pretty wooden beach huts, each one different, painted all the colours of the rainbow. All nestled into the dunes on the softest sand.

I especially loved the stripey pastel ones...

We had lots of fun taking some portraits on the verandahs once the beach had emptied a bit. Look, I match the pink one perfectly - it must be mine! I much prefer being behind the lens rather than in front of it, but even I made an exception for such a pretty location :) Photos of me taken by my lovely husband, alpower.com.

These little wooden beauties are surprisingly expensive - think £25k+ ballpark for what is essentially a shed to keep your sunchairs and beach gear in and make tea! Rather outside my reach, but I'm planning on getting something similar for my garden instead, to paint in pretty pastel stripes :)

I can't tell you how lovely it was to feel soft warm sand beneath my feet, the sun on my face, whilst listening to the waves lapping at the shore. It was high tide when we arrived, the sea just a few metres away from where we were sitting. Absolute bliss! I will most definitely be back. There is so much to explore in the area (Hayling Island, Chichester, Bosham, Arundel) - hopefully we can come for longer next time. Any other recommendations for beautiful beaches and places to visit in Sussex always gratefully received - we have so much still to discover :)

In case you haven't seen enough(!), a few more beach huts can be found in my West Wittering Album on Flickr. I hope you enjoy the remainder of the long weekend - finger's crossed the sun will shine tomorrow!