Farthing Downs ramble followed by a spot of lunch in Coulsdon.

Bit of an odd day; hot in the sun, but quite cold when in the shadow of the obligatory rain clouds. What shall we do? Well we'd spotted a new burger bar over on Farthing Downs the other week, plus the kids have never been onto the downs, so why not take them? So we did, parking next to the weekend burger bar with the promise of drinks afterwards. Even better, the car park is free unlike any National Trust gig like Headley where you have to have a small mortgage to pay the parking charges. Can you tell I don't like to pay to park my car? Cheap, moi? Note that I normally avoid burger bars, but since the tea shop closed down there has been no way, other than the Fox, to get a drink post walk. As adults this is fine but with kids it's a bit of a faff having to carry all and sundry around just in case. Tends to mean locations for walks we either take stuff with us, which is fine up in Snowdonia where you expect to go en naturale, but within the M25 ring I expect to be able to buy stuff quite frankly.

Anyway Farthing was suitably muddy so my kids got splattered with the stuff, especially my daughter who really couldn't give a toss and enjoyed every moment of it. In Wellington boots she entered every single puddle going, or slithered through the mud patches. Prior neither were keen on a ramble, but within 5 minutes they were off laughing.

Now I've been to the Downs a good few times, and done the circular walk to the Fox, so know it OK. However, this was the first time with kids and so we never really looked where we were going or had any plan. We followed them or went where it looked interesting. My what a big place. We must easily have walked 5 miles, via Chaldon and so on. None of it dull. Indeed the people were very friendly and the dogs well behaved. Certainly less dog shit on the ground or hanging in stupid bags than you get here on Reigate Hill. One Alsation stole my daughters walking stick / Wizard's wand from her hand, whilst another followed us until I fashioned a throwing stick and we had dog for ten minutes play time. The children were very happy with this. Thanks Soda!

Post walk we had coffee at the burger bar, plus a cheeky sausage bap - and by heck do they do a good sausage. Really. I even took the time to go back and say so.

Now I had a vague memory of a Mexican restaurant in Coulsdon, so decided on lunch there. Naturally my memory was from ten years past when we were last in the town, so there was no such place. Instead Coulsdon, a previously dumpy little town, has turned into a Little Italy with a few nice looking places. But I can't possibly eat without first going into Doble Motorcycles, one of London's biggest motorcycle shops. Some nice bikes but obviously my urge to own a large bike again has past; I've been a motorcyclist for two periods of my life - ten years in the 1980's and then 6 years up to 2003. I think the last time got it out of my system, but a CB1000 naked thing did appeal at £5k. Hmmmmmm. Bikes really are stunningly good value in many ways.

Anyway, kids hungry so where to go? Chip shop's we only do when near a beach - it's a rule of ours otherwise we'd be right lard arses. We noticed a load of roadies at a cafe - by load I mean over 20, with more en route - loked like an Addiscombe cycle club outing. I figure cyclists always know good food so in we popped to Nonna Rosa's. By heck what a cracking place. The owner made us feel at home, the food was excellent (i.e. kids ate the lot) and the bill more than acceptable. To add to the rather good experience the owner gave my children free sweets as we left. What a lovely place - 108a Brighton Road if you fancy it.

Coulsdon itself was interesting, a busy little town with grocers, a butcher and few charity shops. An honest little place in other words. I think we'll certainly repeat our visit, if only for the coffee and cakes at Nonna's cafe. Oh and the free parking everywhere...