With the temperatures nudging 19 degrees and the sky an unbroken wash of blue, it seemed impossible to even contemplate Christmas.
But as we returned from a breathtaking walk along the shore to the Best Western Beachcroft Hotel and Restaurant for Sunday lunch, we were suddenly reminded of the impending seasonal festivities.
On a table near us, a party of four were already planning their yuletide office party at the the Beachcroft - and wondering whether they should book in for Christmas day itself.
As venues go, there are few better in the area.
Snuggled right on the beach at Felpham, the Beachcroft has a sweeping dining room with huge glazed windows which capture every glance of the summer sun.
The room has a real sense of both comfort and being comfortable.
Whether you are dining with family or friends, there is no sense of pretension. You can simply relax. Soak up the atmosphere. Be splendidly pampered by the hugely welcoming staff. And enjoy the food.
In the summer months, it’s a beach paradise.
It’s a perfect place for a Christmas celebration too.
When we visited as a family with my mother and neighbour we were looked after by Joe, Chelsea and Jack. The service is always just right - reassuringly gentle, polite and efficient but never overwhelming or unnaturally ostentatious.
They are a lovely group of people who always make us feel welcome - and of all the restaurants we have reviewed it remains my mother’s absolute favourite.
It’s all about great value. Mightily generous helpings of freshly cooked food, often locally sourced - the fish is wonderful - and at a price to suit all pockets.
The Sunday lunch menu always includes the compulsory choice of roasts but there are a wealth of alternatives as well as specials.
The starters - meals in themselves! - are just £4.25 with a main meal or otherwise £6.95 and the same prices apply to the desserts too.
Indeed, we were so full after the starter and main we could barely manage more than a few scoops of the ice cream to complete our Sunday.
But what ice cream! This was in a league of its own - subtle in flavour and texture and creamy to the point of ultimate indulgence.
However, it was the starters which stole the show.
The tropical tiger prawn tian - a pineapple and lychee salad, succulent prawns and a marie rose sauce - was the best my mother had ever tasted. And she is a connoisseur of the traditional prawn cocktail.
The lychee gave the dish a crispness and freshness that cut through the prawns with the same decisive clarity of a sauvignon blanc.
It was a masterpiece on a plate.
As ever the roasts - we enjoyed the lamb and pork - were accompanied by a host of fresh vegetables and a wonderful mountain of roast potatoes.
Our thanks to the kitchen staff on the day - James, Jolita and Chris.
The Beachcroft continues to go from strength to strength.
Since we last visited there has been a change of proprietor. We were worried that standards might have slipped. Not a bit of it!
It is now owned by the De Savary family. Planning permission had been granted for a new function room and six additional bedrooms and it is hoped to make a start on the extension early in the new year.
The emphasis is on investment. On making the Beachcroft even better. On setting the highest standards. But still delivering great value.
They are also hoping to obtain a wedding licence.
And the new winter menu will go live in November which will focus on many of the classics.
It’s easy to think of the Beachcroft as a summer venue given its proximity to the beach.
This is a hotel of both quality and value and is a place for all seasons.
Like the people sitting near us in the restaurant. We too will be making a return visit as part of our traditional pre-Christmas celebrations.
You can’t beat the Beachcroft!
The Best Western Beachcroft Hotel and Restaurant, Clyde Road, Felpham, Bognor Regis 01243 827142.
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