Cafe Dharma: Fly In café at Shoreham Airport
Life is about change and no more so when you are a mum of a teenager. My gorgeous 18-year-old daughter got her A Level results recently and she’s been accepted at Nottingham University to read American Studies. She’s about to fly the nest in a matter of weeks and all the adjustment that will come with that both for herself and for me. When there’s a lot going on in my mind getting on my bike to visit a café is a great antidote.
It takes about half an hour to cycle from my home in west Hove to Shoreham along the back roads which are fairly quiet with not much traffic at all. I had a picnic lunch sitting by the banks of the Adur first. The tidal river was about as high as I’ve ever seen it and there were great views over to Lancing College and the recently restored old toll bridge and of course the art deco airport. Some kayakers were paddling upstream, a father and son, and a few office workers crossed over the bridge for a lunchtime break from the engineering company based on the western bank. Lunch eaten I cycled over the bridge too taking the eastern perimeter airport road down towards the main airport terminal. I’ve been visiting this airport ever since I moved to Brighton. It’s an art deco gem and being on Brighton’s urban fringe you get a sense of getting out of town without having to go very far.
Straightaway on entering the cafe I noticed some changes and found out that Truffles, a local Bakery company, has recently taken over the running of the cafe. Food did look improved and there was an impressive line-up of cakes and scones on the counter. The cafe itself is spacious and light with plenty of windows allowing great views over the airfield. The best seating though is outside when the weather is good enough so that’s where I headed for. Being lunchtime there was plenty of take-offs and landings of mainly small Cessna aircraft and it can get a bit noisy at times. You get fantastic views of the Downs from here all the way from Annington Hill in the west over the Arun valley with the familiar landmark of the old cement works tower towards Beeding Hill and Truleigh Hill to the east with its communication masts and youth hostel.
Being a grade two listed building inside the main terminal there are loads of original art deco features such as the whispering gallery on the first floor. There is also an exhibition of black and white photography on the ground floor showing the even earlier days of the airport from around 1910 in the days when planes were made of wood.
I remember taking my daughter to the airport here many times during the school holidays when she was much younger and enjoying the cafe ambiance and the distraction of all the flight activity. Those days are gone in much the same way as the wooden planes have and its new pastures and new adventures for both of us.