Our motorhome is now ready for the Continent. The air conditioner is working well and Paul is getting the hang of finding the satellite above us so we can get a TV signal. (100’s of channels but as usual not much worth watching except the re-runs!)
We have also sold our little car. We were sad to see it go but we couldn’t leave it outside Mum & Dad’s for so long.
We said goodbye to Mum, Brian & Andrew. We had a tasty meal at a Chinese restaurant in Pangborne and then popped along the road to Andrew’s cottage for a cuppa. His garden is full of fruits and vegetables so off came my high heeled shoes and bare foot I walked through the rows of raspberry canes and blackcurrant bushes picking pounds of fruit. It was wonderful to feel the soft, damp earth squiding between my toes and even better tucking into our harvest!
Paul and I celebrated his birthday with a meal out (yes, a meal out!) at the carvery in Old Windsor.
We are now back on the road touring East Sussex and Kent. Brighton beach was as stony as we remembered and the pier just as flash and gaudy. It had the usual entertainments along its length, amusement arcades, games of chance, have your fortune told by a real gypsy, freshly cooked doughnuts and the fish stall with its bowls of whelks, cockles and jellied ells.
The Royal Pavilion built in 1823 as the Prince Regents (later King George IV) Pleasure Palace is looking a little sad on the outside but the inside has been beautifully restored to something like its original splendour. The palace was built by the famous John Nash in the ‘Indian” style, hence the use of many domes and trellis work.
Pevensey Castle was next on our list. A castle or fort has stood on this spot since the 4th century as part of the southern coast shore defence. Lots of large round shaped balls were evacuated and were found to be ammunition for the medieval war machine, a trebuchet. In 1066 William the Conqueror’s army landed here before marching to Battle to meet King Harold in the conflict that was to ever change English history. The battle was very bloody and as we now all know King Harold was shot in the eye with an arrow and died on the battlefield. In a penance ordered by the Pope, William the Conqueror built Battle Abbey to mark the loss of so many lives during the battle. The town on Battle grew up around the Abbey.
You can only build a castle with permission from your monarch, so in 1385 a knight, Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, who fancied himself wealthy and powerful and wanted to show everyone how important he was, asked his King if he could fortify his manor house. The outcome was Bodiam Castle. It is a very picturesque castle, sitting in landscaped grounds with the ramparts rising dramatically above the wide moat. It certainly impressed any visiting dignitaries. Although the outside of the castle is mainly intact the inside was destroyed by the order of Oliver Cromwell.
Our next castle was Dover Castle. It protects the shortest crossing between England and France. King Henry II built the castle with The Great Tower at its centre between 1180 and 1185. The interior of The Great Tower has been re-created as it might have appeared in Henry’s time. The colours of the tapestries and furnishings are rich and vibrant, reds, yellows, blues and gold. The English Heritage did a lot of research and had fabrics made on special looms to make them as close as possible to fabrics woven in the 12th century. All of the designs for the embroidery on the tapestries, cushions and painting of the friezes were also carefully researched.
Not only have we been looking at medieval history, but we have been finding out about the WWII defences along this coast. Under Dover Castle are three medieval tunnels built in 1216 and one was used as a Field Hospital during WWII. During the war two more tunnels were built and they became the bomb proof nerve centre for the defence of Dover and the south coast. This area of Kent became known as “Hellfire Corner” due to the number of air and sea battles it saw. Operation Dynamo – Rescue from Dunkirk – was also operated from these tunnels.
We’ve seen many Pill Boxes, small fortified structures for gun placements, along this coast. All relics from the threat of a German invasion. Also a few Martello towers remain, built during the Napoleonic wars, which were also brought back into use during WWII.
We couldn’t see much of the White Cliffs of Dover as we were walking along the footpath on the top. Paul managed to get one photo with just a glimpse of the chalky cliff. He was reluctant to get any closer to the edge as it is a little crumbly.
On our way to Ramsgate we passed all the signs for the British Golf Open at Sandwich and found out that my Brother-in-law, Martin, is a marshal at the event for the week. He is a great golf fan and loves doing the marshalling for these championships.
Once in Ramsgate we walked along the Victorian promenade and sat in the sun eating cockles and crab whilst listening to a Jazz Band. Lots of locals dressed up in very fancy gear and paraded around with umbrellas decorated with lace, feathers and bows. It gave the whole place a carnival feel.
We have spent the last two days visiting Canterbury. At its heart is Canterbury Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in England, which was founded in 602AD. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the leader of the Church of England. In 1170 Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in the cathedral by knights of Henry II (not on his orders though) and for centuries his shrine has attracted pilgrims as a place of healing. In the 14th century Geoffrey Chaucer wrote his famous book “Canterbury Tales” which contains stories about pilgrims on the road to Canterbury. Edward Plantagenet (the Black Prince) is also buried within the cathedral.
Canterbury is an interesting city with some cobbled streets and many Tudor buildings. It also has the ruins of a Norman castle.
Tomorrow we leave for Folkstone and we board our train to France at lunch time on Thursday, so our next travel update will be winging its way to you from the Continent.
Hope everyone is keeping well.
Thinking of you all (miss you too)
Liz & Paul x