Sleeping in the car.. some part of it..
Our first stop after leaving the boat house in Kent was Canterbury. We had both heard of the place but neither of us were sure why. I (Blake) thought it might be like that Tom Green skit "A Canterbury tale". Fortunately it wasn't. It turns out that the Canterbury Cathedral is here along with a lot of beautiful buildings and places to see.
Canterbury Cathedral: The mother of Anglican churches- like St Peter's (in Rome) is to Catholic churches.
The Cathedral is stunning but really expensive to enter (£9.50 each). The information board says that it costs something like £19,000 per day to maintain, restore and operate. Thats like $30k Aussie per day! Ridiculous.
Anyway, its a beautiful place and worth the admission if you're planning a detailed look around.
Canterbury Cathedral, courtesy of Michelle the photographer
Canterbury Public library and free museum/gallery
We found out just before we arrived that Sandwiches did not originate from here But that didn't stop us from having a sandwich in Sandwich. We were hoping that the town would make the most of this awesome tourism opportunity, maybe have a giant statue of a sandwich in the centre of town, but they just don't seem like they are into it. This is when we really started to look into the facts...
Just think about it, the only place you can buy a take away sandwich was from the supermarket. Doesn't make sense. The only explanation is that there must be a secret underground sandwich worshipping society. We started our investigation at the Sandwich council but we were turned away. Maybe getting too close to the truth?
We decided to go to plan B, more of a ground roots entry into the sandwich society rather than through the council. We started to take photos of ourselves with sandwiches around town in the hope that a member would see our love of the delicacy and invite us into the society. Surprisingly this didn't happen so all we have is some silly photos of us with sandwiches...
Deal and Dover Castle
We made it to Deal Castle which was stunning from the outside. It was closed, so we just went for a walk on the stoney beach. As we just found out, almost everything here shuts down in November till Feb (only open on the weekends).. Bit of a spanner in the works...
NO DEAL!! :
So we drove to Dover (hoping that Dover Castle was open)- it too was closed .. We got some photos of the outside of Dover Castle and continued on to the White Cliffs of Dover which is nearby.
The White Cliffs of Dover
What a beautiful afternoon for a walk. I think the last week or so sitting in a car has robbed us of our fitness. Time to get out and about.
Found a cave in the cliff - used to be a bunker:
From the cliffs, you can see Europe's busiest port (Port of Dover). Here ferries & cruise ships leave for Europe:
This was our first night camping on a campsite so we were pretty excited. Most of the campsites are closed for winter (as we only just found out ) and the first campsite we tried wouldn't take us "for insurance reasons" as the van is insured as a car not a camper. Onto the next place (drove to the next town) they said they would accept us the first night but that normally they wouldn't as the van has advertising on the side of it. All it says is the name of the rental company so I don't see how this is any different from towing a caravan with a rental car. Ah well, they let us stay in the end so shouldn't complain.
Went out to the pub for dinner and had to wait until 6pm till it opened... This sundown before 5pm business is really confusing. Michelle had a Ginger beer and Blake tucked into some of the "Real Ale's" they had on tap. The real ale is brewed and transported to the pub in a keg without having the yeast filtered out or any preservatives. It's still flat and cool rather than cold but Blake loves it!
Back to the campsite and off to sleep. We were warm and dry so no too bad at the end. Still a cold run to the bathrooms in the morning.
We started the day by driving to Rye (a historical fishing village). We found out a couple of days later that Paul McCartney lives here. We missed our chance on a celebrity hunt! We had a walk around and a cup of tea with crepes and a pastry. We then headed to Ypres tower/museum, had a look around and continued on to Hastings.
We made a quick stop at Hastings, bought some food & drink for dinner and continued on to find a campsite for the night.
Same hassle in finding a camp site: 1st one we went to was shut and send us to the only one in town that was open & it ended up perfect. The lady was so trustworthy that she told us to just park our car at a spot & pay tomorrow because she wanted to go home. So we got ourselves comfortable, fired up the camp stove and cooked some soup to go with our salad. Yum.
We drove back to Hastings to check out Hasting Stade and the net shops. This area was a real gem. Most of the boats were pulled up on shore for winter so we could see the winches and tractors they use and how the boats sit up on shore. There was a free museum showing the fishing and boating history of the area.
Fish head on the beach:
We asked the guide at the museum where the best fish and chips were to be found and he pointed out a place called Maggies. He said that it is usually booked out for lunch all week so he didn't like our chances of getting in. Fancy that, a fish and chip shop that is booked out. As soon as we left the shop we had our little laugh, walked over to the Maggies and saw it was booked out
We had a walk around the old town and found some cute, interesting looking houses:
We had some fish and chips for lunch then headed off to Brighton.
We walked through the famous 'The Lanes'- just shops really.
Checked out Brighton Pier. Even had a go at wasting some money at the arcade:
Blake decided he needed a good night sleep (not in the car), so we bought a coffee at Starbucks and use their wifi to find a place to stay for the night. Luckily we found one in a nearby town- Lewes (although we had to back track a little). We stayed in a 'motel' above a pub by the motorway- beats sleeping in the car We got to experience how bad traffic can get here in Southern England. It should have only taken us 20 minutes to get from Brighton to Lewes- lets just say it was a very longggg 20 minutes.
After breakfast (courtesy of the pub downstairs), we drove back to Brighton to check out the most amazing palace- The Royal Pavilion:
It was built for the Prince Regent, later King George IV. Queen Victoria didn't like the palace- too far for her to travel and too small for a family of 10 children, so it was eventually sold to the Brighton government. The outside architecture is meant to be like india (ie. the Taj Mahal), but the inside is decorated in oriental theme with dragons & snakes. Really amazing place. Unfortunately we couldn't take photos on the inside
It took us about 1.5 hours to get to Bournemouth from Brighton. We did a quick stopover at my dad's boarding school in Bournemouth and headed into town. We stopped over at the pier first- spent our parking money in the arcade (think we have the potential to be gambling addicts). Then checked into our hotel before the sun went down. Yes.. we've temporarily given up sleeping in the car.
We spent remembrance day at the Tank museum. They had a remembrance day service at the museum, and entry was free today- lucky us!!
Blake was soooo excited... boys and tanks.. I thought it was rather boring so i did a quick browse and waited for Blake at the cafeteria
We spent the afternoon walking along the beach and checked out Bournemouth town:
They have sandy beaches here... (not rocks).. just amazing
On a wet & rainy day we decided to drive to the Stonehenge. Its just rocks in the middle of a motorway. I guess its the kind of place you need to sit down and appreciate but it was cold and there was sideways rain so really hard to get into the mood.
We checked ourselves into a B&B farm house in Cullompton (in the middle of no where in Devon). Awesome B&B with yummy breakfast.
Had dinner at the local pub. Once again.. we got there before 6pm (it was so dark), and we had to wait for it to open
Chicken; very yummy fish pie
Check out the breakfast menu:
A quick stop at the tourist info in Exeter (20 minutes from where we were staying), and we drove along what they called the Jurassic Coast. It covers 95 miles of the coastline from Exmouth in East Devon to Dorset. We only made it as far as Beer (not even half way).
Exmouth: This is meant to be the oldest part of the Jurassic Coast with fossils dating back to 200-250 million years ago (Triassic period)
Budleigh Salterton: The red cliffs in the background (Triassic)
Beer: This is a small fishing village. Note the rocks and cliffs here are white not red (Cretaceous period- 65- 145 million years ago)
Slept in- a very lazy day
Drove to Uncle Shaun's place in Exmoor (North Devon) for the weekend. His house is a renovated old rectory in the middle of no where. Pretty amazing place. They have horses, sheep and bearded dragon pets.
Two indonesian guys (our age) were visiting too.. so for a change we had other people to talk to besides ourselves. We were well entertained by Shaun's 12 years old son Charlie and well looked after by his wife.
We went on Shaun's tour of Devon:
Clovelly- an old fishing town that still uses donkeys and sledges to haul food and equipment up and down the paths. Either donkeys or children. All of the port towns have massive tidal ranges. basically when the tide is out the boats sit on the rocks, then float back up when the tide comes in...
Porlock Wier -had the best fish & chips- owned by a Malaysian lady.. hahaha. We tried their triple cooked chips- very crispy as you can imagine:
It was a very misty day as you can see..
Ilfracombe- saw the weirdest skeleton pregnant lady statue- it is massive and very out of place... We got there just before 5pm, unfortunately the sun has gone down.
We also went to Dunster, Lynton, Lynmouth, Valley of the rocks (saw some wild horses and lots of sheep along the way), and to Wells to visit Shaun's daughter at boarding school.
Watched a school orchestra rehearsal in the church. They were amazing..
Oldest & longest inhabited street in Europe in Wells:
We watched the Rugby (England VS Australia) on TV on the weekend. Shaun actually had 6 tickets for us to go to watch, but we decided it was 3 1/2 hours drive (each way) to Twickenham. So we watched it at home. Lucky for us Australia won
The most awesome thing we did: A 12 years old kid taught us how to shoot a shotgun.
We all had a go and it was soooo cool.. it was very loud & very powerful. I was lucky i didn't fell backwards with the impact of the shotgun. We aimed them in open air in Shaun's backyard. Not to worry, no one (animals or human) got hurt. So much fun though
We had an amazing & fun 4 days here.. Got a bit spoilt- we were driven around everywhere (even in a mini- its been a while ).. food cooked for us (pancakes & sausages for breakfast; Roast for dinner; got taken out for lunch, high tea, and dinner) and the luxury of sleeping in a comfy warm bed in a 1800s rectory (house of a priest), although Charlie had inform me that our room was once lived in by bats..
It's going to be tough to be back on the road again
End of Part II...