Sometimes it’s nice just to go somewhere for a potter – without an activity or agenda in mind. When I published the post about Shoreham Airport a few months back – before the horrific disaster as its air show over the summer – the director of the Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft (I know, I was a bit star struck!) commented on the Instagram picture and said that I should head to Shoreham town, because there were these houseboats there that he thought I’d love (he was right). Then another reader, Francine, chipped in and gave us not one but three café recommendations there.
So we nipped over to Shoreham one semi-sunny Saturday in March (yes, yes, this post is very late, but the weather in March and November – especially given how mild it is right now – aren’t that dissimilar). We had a saunter past each of the cafés before choosing one, and then headed over the Adur Ferry Bridge to the houseboats.
The café we settled on was Tom Foolery Coffee Company and after a bit of a worry about whether the kids would behave, and whether we’d bother the (at that moment) totally adult clientele, we settled on squishy leather sofas under a fairy-light star at the back and chowed down on yummy paninis followed by great coffee and a couple of shared brownies.
The lovely Irish owner of the café told me a bit about the houseboats – that there’s a festival each year and that one of them was made of all kinds of bits of other vehicles. You can see parts of a bus in it!
We headed over the estuary and as we hit the other side, saw a fence covered in lost shoes that must have been dragged up by the tide. How many people lose a shoe to the sea/rivers and how does this happen? Are you walking along a tow path and you just get the urge to yank off a shoe and hurl it in? Probably not – so while it’s kind of cool, there’s also something slightly creepy about this.
Heading right from here, you hit a narrow concrete tow path and the houseboats. These were mostly eerily quiet when we were there, but the weather wasn’t amazing – I can imagine in bright warm sunshine, this is a buzzy little community.
There’s nothing to ‘do’ here, it’s just for looking at, and my kids loved all the crooked gates, the mosaic’d shell signs and just looking at and talking about the boats and their surroundings.
As we came towards the end of the path, a friendly boat lady told us to use a little set of steps to our left down through some allotments towards a playground set in a grassy patch.
We headed past this playground (cue a LOT of whinging) towards a pebbly rise beyond it that was topped with a string of beach huts. With the water we’d traversed BEHIND us, we were a bit thrown off that here was Shoreham beach, off in the opposite direction. But we headed over and combed a short stretch of it under grumbling grey skies before heading back through an estate of neat white houses to the bridge.
Back over the bridge and back to town, we felt justified in heading to another of the cafés Francine mentioned, for a sit down on higgledy piggledy chairs for a cup of tea and marshmellow-melty hot chocolates before heading back to Lewes.
Overall, a really nice little jaunt, with walking distances far enough for wearing the boys out, but short enough to leave the buggy behind (our younger was then almost three, so we were at that time NEARLY buggy-free!).
Drive: 25 mins
Train: 38-45 mins, with changes in Brighton or Brighton and Hove
Tom Foolery Coffee Company
Address: 6 The High Street, Shoreham, BN43 5DA
Tel no.: 01273 933 993
Open: Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm; Sat + Sun 9am-5pm
Disclosure: My family and I visited Shoreham-by-Sea and its cafés on a tipoff from a couple of Little Lewes readers. Neither of the cafés knew that I was in any way reviewing them. This post is a straight up account of a day spent in Shoreham.
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