Mike Payne on his perfect Sussex weekend


- Credit: Archant

Mike Payne, illustrator and creator of the grey‘Tatty Teddy’ that’s often seen on gift cards tells us how he likes to spend his free time in and around his Littlehampton studios

“I love the variety of countryside and coastland from East to West Sussex, the county has so much to offer,” says Mike Payne of his Sussex home. “Couple that with charming towns such as Rye, Chichester and Bosham and you have something for everyone.

When not working as an illustrator, Mike says that he is “always doing scribbling or cartooning – I am fortunate in as much as my hobby is also my work.” When he can be lured away from his pencil and paper though, he does admit to enjoying spending time in The Six Bells in Lyminster, Arun View in Littlehampton or The Spur in Slindon. “My wife and I love to go to all of them for Sunday lunch – they all serve fabulous food at a reasonable cost with fresh vegetables, and all give great service.”

In terms of restaurants Mike tends to go to The Lemon Grass in Rustington “as my wife and I love Thai food” but also La Cucina in Rustington and La Campania in Arundel for Italian. For special occasions he loves The Chardonnay Restaurant in Washington. “I love their homemade bread they serve with the food and the service is continually excellent.”

When it comes to our enviable scenery Mike says he’s hard pushed to pick a favourite Sussex view as there are so many, “but the drive down Long Furlong from Clapham to Findon is always breathtaking at any time of year.”

And who would he choose to spend his time with when ambling around Sussex? “My lovely wife and our really close friends. Also the pop star Rihanna if she’s available!”

By preference he would walk along the Greensword on the coast from East Preston to Ferring. “It is so great for blowing all the cobwebs away and the sea is always a living landscape.”

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When not admiring the scenery, Mike goes to the theatre a lot, and also enjoys the odd gig. “The Overtones at The Dome in Brighton would take a lot of beating, and The Pyjama Game at Chichester Festival Theatre was one of the best shows I have seen there.”

But in terms of the one Sussex experience to beat them all, there is no hesitation: “That’s an easy one. I would heartily recommend a visit to the wonderful National Trust Batemans at Burwash. Rudyard Kipling’s home and where the story of his son My Boy Jack was filmed. The house and gardens are magnificent and the voluntary helpers are knowledgable, enthusiastic and a joy to meet.”