A Festive Threesome Part 1 – Kent

Good evening, from a chilly and increasingly windy St Michaels, Tenterden in Kent. The weathermen have got it right again – gits – and after a glimpse of sun this morning we’re in for a rough night. Tomorrow is forecast to be better – let’s hope they’re right again. Our wish for bright crisp days has so far not been granted, and whilst it has not been cold – up to now – there’s been a lot of the wet stuff about. Still, we and Patsy have got pretty used to that, as regular Nonsense! readers will know!

Right, well, we’ve been here since Saturday, hauling Patsy the 55 miles or so across the border from East Sussex along the regions crumbling pot holed roads. And we did cheat a little too. Rather than collect her ladyship straight from storage we picked her up Friday and plonked her on the Caravan Club site in Brighton, less than five miles up the road from us, to give her an airing and load up – just as well as it took more than one visit. We’ve never really got the hang of travelling light but at least with this caravanning lark there isn’t the airlines stingy baggage limits to worry about.

The site is a CS or certificated site and so is only available to members of the Camping & Caravan Club. These are not generally full service sites but often spare fields or paddocks put to good use by enterprising farmers. This sits on the edge of Ingleden Park and offers eight hard standing pitches as well as a grassed area for tents – all with terrific views. Having had a drive around we settled on the pitch nearest the entrance – and toilet block. Two other ‘vans were on site at the time.

We decided not to put the awning up – the pitch wasn’t that level and withe the forecast of high winds didn’t want to risk damaging it, so the set up was fairly swift – if a little muddy – and we soon had the kettle on.

An excursion in to the village was called for, in search of both liquid and solid sustenance, but first it was time to make use of the on site facilities. Basic, but functional – there’s loos and showers and both performed their respective tasks adequately. It’s gets mighty chilly in there though so you won’t be standing (or sitting) around for long.

Once scrubbed up we headed out, calling first at The Crown to check on it’s offerings. Food was served until 4:00pm – which was a pity as it was half past when we got  there. It would have been rude to walk out though so we took the opportunity to do a little er, research. Three real ales were on offer – London Pride being one which, as some of you know is one of my favourites. I’ve got to tell you it’s one of the best pints of Pride I’ve had outside of London. Or in it.

A bit further up the road was The Fat Ox and again, we were too late for the normal menu although we could have had pizza. We settled instead for a pint and some crisps whilst contemplating our options.

There was a chippy next to the post office where I decide to replenish my wallet and the decision was made. We went in and ordered. Now, everything was in the cabinets ready but for some reason we had to wait. A glance around revealed other individuals in the same boat, some looking as though they were losing the will to live. More people came in and ordered and joined the queue. After three days – ok, about twenty minutes but you get my drift – we were on our way back to the site, drooling in anticipation. Well, it was ok, but we’ve had better. A glass or two of wine was required to wash it down with. And we’ve no shortage of wine either. Thanks to the generosity of the parents of the kids on my school bus we have a fine selection of both red or white to choose from. Out of all the drivers at the school I yielded the most – by some margin. Something I’m quite proud of  as clearly I’m doing something right.

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A welcome lie in Sunday and with rain promised for later, a quick look at Tenterden was the only sightseeing of the day. A pretty town although sitting on the A28 suffers from a lot of traffic passing through. Provisons were procured at Waitrose in what was my first – and if my wallet has anything to say – my last – visit to one of their stores. Lots of nice looking pubs though for some research later in the week.

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A late afternoon fry up, courtesy of the Portly Partner, AKA other half Trev went down extremely well. Our neighbours had left and were were the only ones left on site – and still are.

Monday, and with more of the wet stuff promised we had planned on nothing more than a visit to the Cinema at Ashford– and that was exactly what we did, taking the opportunity to have a walk around the town before the rain came. Surprisingly quiet given the time of year, the nearby outlet centre was only a little busier. I came away with a new shirt from M & S – I’ll let you guess the colour.

For the record the film was ‘Saving Mr Banks’ – the story of Walt Disney’s attempts to secure the rights to Mary Poppins. Entertaining and great performances from two very watchable actors – Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.

Tuesday, and back in to East Sussex and Hastings – and the first outing of the trip for my trusty leather trench coat too.  Hastings has had some bad press of late – another crumbling seaside town etc etc, and there certainly were some shabby bits – particularly along the sea front – but the town centre shops seemed to be doing well. Work has started on the pier – hit by a fire 2010 – and is scheduled to reopen in 2015.

Along from the pier is ‘Bottle Alley’ – so named because of the wall made partially of glass bottles in the 30’s forming the lower level of a double deck promenade. It was featured on the BBC programme ‘Coast’ a few years back and it looked much more impressive then. Still, it’s a remarkable feature even today.

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Further up the coast is Rye and we stopped here, pausing first in the harbour village and then the town itself for a cuppa and teacake. The town is really pretty – lots of independent shops and with daylight beginning to fade and the Christmas lights coming on it looked really good.

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More research later on and then an evening in front of the telly. Reception is fine with little break up – and that’s on a relatively old circular aerial. Radio reception is ok, but not great. There is no Wi-Fi – hardly surprising – it’s not something you expect from these type of sites – and a mobile signal depends largely on your network. For our phones we’re both with Virgin. You can make a call and that’s about it. The mobile Wi-Fi adaptor – a recent addition to the Nonsense! communications arsenal – running with a ‘Samba’ SIM (who piggyback ‘3’) is providing a usable internet connection. I usually use a giffgaff (O2) SIM but, that yielded only an unusable 2G signal.

Anyway, enough of the technical drivel and back to today. Dungeness was the main attraction today. A headland formed largely of shingle and sheltering the nearby Romney Marshes it’s one of the most unique landscapes in Britain. Lighthouses, cottages and boats vie for the attention of your camera lens but ever present in the background is the hulk of the nuclear power stations providing a stark contrast. It can be bleak and very windy (like today) but there is still something special about it.

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Further up the coast we paused at Littlestone for a couple of photos and then at  Hythe for some sustenance and a stroll along the pleasant high street before returning, by a somewhat unorthodox route – and a much needed petrol station.

So, we’re up to date. We have a couple more days here before moving up to Cambridge for Christmas. A visit to Tunbridge Wells may be on the cards – weather permitting.

So, until next time….

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2 thoughts on “A Festive Threesome Part 1 – Kent

  1. Hi Rich, I always look forward to reading your blogs with interest as a fellow caravanner. I have to say though, that we definitely come into the category of 'fair weather caravanners' so I'm very impressed that you decided to use Patsy at this time of year – our van is wrapped up until Spring! I've been looking out for part 2 of your festive getaway – have you survived the awful gales? Happy Xmas! Lin

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  2. Hi Lin, thanks very much for your comment – it's always really appreciated. Part 2 is er, pending. Might get on to it boxing day. Been doing family stuff so not a lot of time. Yes we survived the gales, much calmer now though more are forecast.
    Thanks again

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