Alarm is at 7, I wake up early, see that it’s after 6 so I figure I could start the day. After protests from the other side of the bed, it turns out it’s only just after 5.. so an early breakfast today. That’s fine, the sun is shining and we want to see some of Brighton town anyway before we visit the Royal Pavillion at 10. We walk by the seaside surrounded by locals out for a jog and business people preparing to open their shops, with great views over the old and new pier. It must be garbage collection day, I can smell it.
We make our way through The Lanes to the Royal Pavillion, a pleasure palace over 200 years old, and sneak in just ahead of the school groups. No photographs allowed, such a shame because the rooms are richly decorated, my favourite is a silver dragon holding up a 1 ton chandelier in the banqueting room, I get a post card as a memento. Scones and breakfast tea for lunch (a bit contradictory, I know), pick up the car from the hotel car park and set off, repeating to ourselves ‘drive left, left, left!’
First up is Bignor villa, one of the largest roman villas in the UK, in a remote corner of the South Downs National Park, accessible via roads big enough for just one car to pass. It doesn’t look like much and there are few visitors, but the mosaics inside are stunning. We spend about an hour before continuing on to Fishbourne Roman Palace and we’re just in time to join a guided tour. The volunteer takes us first to the conservation building, where we get to hold some of the local finds: a roman coin, a sharp piece of flint and 300.000 years old hande axe.
Since we’re the last tour of the day, we spend some time in the actual palace as well. Not much is left of it besides the mosaic floors, but they’ve been able to figure out much of its history and layout. The volunteer’s enthousiasm is catching, he even gives us some tips about what to see when we travel further north. They have to actually kick us out because the museum is closing.
To Lyndhurst, we finally find some highways and are able to make good time. It’s busy all over though and the roundabouts here are impressive. Two or three lanes that go around, but still there’s a big queue to get to the other side. We have Indian dinner in the village, excellent curry.