In need of an inspired day trip with a difference? The Great Boden Diaries’ Sasha Wilkins took to the road with her father (plus vintage Jaguar and sausage dogs) to uncover the many joys of historic Goodwood in West Sussex
From my teenage years to now, I’ve always loved driving. Growing up, getting behind the wheel was the only means of escape from the rural village where we lived. Nowadays, driving doesn’t just equal transport, it’s also my favourite father-daughter activity, thanks to the two classic cars he owns and lets me drive with him at motor circuits around the country. My favourite track is the historic Goodwood Motor Circuit, about two hours south of central London. It’s part of the ravishingly beautiful 12,000-acre Goodwood Estate, home to the Duke of Richmond and his son, the Earl of March, who now runs the estate.
I’ve driven at Goodwood a number of times with my father, from track days to testing out modern production cars at the Festival of Speed, and driving has always been one of our favourite ways to spend time together. It’s the perfect destination for a 24-hour, father-daughter bonding mission.
I set off from London in a giant rental Jeep, stuffed full of dogs, Boden cashmere and country kit, a racing helmet, wellies and a pretty Boden dress for dinner while my father drove his classic XK120 Jaguar. On arrival, we booked in at the estate’s glorious Goodwood Hotel and planned a day of eating and driving: our two favourite occupations.
To start our break in style, we immediately headed to the Goodwood Kennels, an 18th-century masterpiece that once housed the kennels of the Duke’s hunting hounds but is now a clubhouse. Built in 1790 by the famous classical architect, James Wyatt, the Kennels have been spectacularly restored and now play host to members from all of Goodwood’s sporting and social clubs – horseracing, golf, motorsport and aviation. Happily, its fantastic restaurant is open to the public. (And dogs – naturally.)
I was thrilled to see Levin Down cheese (from the estate) in the scrumptious beignets on the lunch menu and to discover that the herbs come from their own Victorian kitchen garden. Our meal was wonderful: both beautiful on the plate – thanks to the colourful autumn vegetables (beets, carrots, squashes) – and delicious to eat. And the dogs appreciated their own water bowl as well as the odd sort-of accidental snackette that fell from the heavens, so to speak.
After eating everything in sight, we headed off with Lettice, the mini sausage dog, to work off all that lunch by spending the afternoon in the XK120. We drove through the Goodwood estate; exploring the circuit, the Racecourse and its beautiful winding country roads. If we had timed the trip for a Sunday, we could have taken part in one of the regular Sunday morning open-houses at the Goodwood Motor Circuit, when enthusiasts of all ages and all marques get together to share their passion for all things automotive.
Driving done, we returned to the hotel for a nap and a dog walk around the hotel grounds (dog bags thoughtfully provided) before convening for a pre-supper drink in the hotel’s Richmond Arms bar. For supper, I ordered the Goodwood cheese soufflé, which arrived puffed high, and light as air, and my father had the charcoal-grilled Goodwood sirloin, which was clearly hung properly, and full of the depth of flavour you’d expect from expertly reared beef.
Breakfast the next morning was a chance to read the papers and leisurely hang out. I was particularly impressed with the wonderful boiled eggs with toast soldiers, served with a sprinkle of sea salt, and the freshly squeezed pomegranate juice.
Then, rather wistfully, I packed up the Jeep, strapped in the sausages, and waved my father off in his beautiful car as I headed back to London, both replete and a little sad to be leaving the English countryside for my city life.
The Goodwood Estate, Chichester, West Sussex