“I fly some 200 times a year, so coming home brings my feet back to the ground. West Sussex, with its little lanes and beautiful hills that roll down to the sea, is the ultimate English countryside. Our home in Hawkley, on the Hampshire/Sussex border, is surrounded by forest: when it snows, everything becomes incredibly misty and, with the sun fighting its way through the trees, all these mystical green and grey colours appear. It’s magical.
On Saturday morning, I make healthy pancakes for my daughter Candice. My yoga instructor, Lucy Butler, comes to realign my body after a full-on week, and then we walk our seven dogs in the forest: it’s a good time to catch up with my wife, Chichi, or just empty my head. When we come in from the cold, we light the fire and have tea.
After lunch at The Natural Apothecary in Petersfield, which caters to my dietary whims – they do an amazing raw gluten- and sugar-free tiramisu cake – Candice and I drive to Lavant House Stables and spend the afternoon riding. It’s the most special part of my weekend. Lavant is a well-oiled machine but still has a family feel, and it borders the vast Goodwood Estate, so we go for long hacks. The horses spend a lot of time outside, which makes them strong and calm. Recently, I spent two hours training in the rain and got soaked, but I was so connected to the animal that I didn’t notice.
On the way home we meet Chichi at the farm shop and café at Cowdray Park for a turmeric and almond-milk latte with maple and cinnamon syrup – amazing after being out in the elements. Sometimes we’ll go on to Petworth, a beautiful, quaint town with excellent antiques stores. I love Augustus Brandt, set in a Georgian townhouse – each room has a theme that changes regularly. It’s brilliant for presents: I’ve bought great circus-motif plates there, as well as beautiful Japanese crockery and big, colourful velvet cushions for flopping by the fireside.
Saturday-night dinner is a family ritual: we go to The Kennels, the cosy clubhouse at Goodwood. The views are spectacular, particularly when the sun goes down over Goodwood House. The bartender makes our vodka martinis exactly as we like them – dirty and ultra-dry for Chichi; dry with a twist for me. I like the dry-aged sirloin from the estate’s organic farm, and the slightly spicy steak tartare – it’s cut very fine and has a beautiful texture. Later, we’ll relax at home over a game of Texas hold’em and Candice will experiment in the kitchen: a lot of cookie- baking goes on at this time of year.
On Sunday morning I’ll take my 1996 Honda Fireblade out onto the lanes. I’ve had motorbikes since I was 16, but for a city boy they were just a way to get around. In the country, I went above third gear for the first time and began to actually feel the bike. I’ll swing by Vinyl Matters, a quirky independent record shop. I lost my collection in a flood, so Steve, the owner, is helping me rebuild it.
Every winter we’ll take a trip to Wylds Farm – a magical Christmas-tree woodland. It takes about two hours to walk around the 20,000 or so trees. The shop there has lovely locally made, sustainably sourced ornaments.
In the evening we’ll go to the Spread Eagle in Midhurst for pulled-salt-beef sandwiches. With its old-school service, it reminds me of places I went to with my parents in the ’70s. The Royal Oak, which does a wonderful wild mushroom and cashew-nut roast, is also special. It has become a kind of salon where Chichi, who is an illustrator, and I exchange ideas and advice with the staff over dinner.
Red-eye flights on Monday always mean a 3.30am start, but I never go to bed early: life should be lived to the fullest.”