Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Going east for this trip!

Well we decided that our main Autumn trip would be to the homelands of our youth, namely 'The garden of England',  Kent. Both Lizzie and I spent much of our childhoods in Kent. Lizzie was brought up in Tonbridge, and I spent much time at my Nans in Gillingham, and had summer holidays in Westgate, firstly staying at Mr Porters Guest House in Westgate, and later travelling down daily on the train to Westgate from Gillingham.

Bearstead Cc site in the morning!

 We were booked in at Bearstead CC site,  which is on the A20, just East of Maidstone. The site is 151 miles from home and took us exactly three hours to get to. We were booked in here for 14 nights.
We spent Friday shopping for essential provisions, wine, and a little food! In the evening we went out for dinner with my cousin Lee, who lives in Rainham.  We went to a super pub, who's name and location escapes me but it was only a few miles away from the site in a delightful village!

We were up early for us and set off for Dungness where we we were going to spend the day riding on the narrow gauge Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.  After some difficulties as Dungness station is being rebuilt, we boarded the train and set off north across the Marsh behind Typhoon.  At New Romney the engine was changed and we were hauled by Winston Churchill as we headed north to Hythe.
The journey is not as I expected as for much of it the line runs in a narrow corridor between the ends of gardens. The engine was turned at Hythe and then we travelled back to Dungness.
a great day out, and another railway ticked off.
I must also add that it is a superb railway, well maintained and run. Definitely worth the visit if you are in the area!  www.rhdr.org.uk

Sissinghurst Castle was the place we decided on for our morning coffee on Sunday.   This is a national Trust property with lovely gardens. The weather was so good we were able to sit outside.  the gardens were well worth the visit, and must be really spectacular in late spring / early summer.

Sissinghurst Castle Gardens

As the weather was holding on the Monday we set off for the Isle of Sheppy as neither of us remember having visited there before! Well it  was very much a holiday place, designed originally for East Enders.  Some of it reminded us of Skegness.
We drove back to The Strand in Gillingham, which is the towns coastal park, and is very tidy now compared with my memories of the 50's and 60's when it was rather scruffy. Then it was on to dinner with Lee at her home in Rainham.

After a restful day on Tuesday we had a run down to Folkestone on Wednesday, where we visited the excellent 'Battle of Britain' museum, which is a memorial to the Few! The Museum was only opened this year and compliments the memorial in front of it! A really super place to visit, and make you realise just how close to France we are!  www.battleofbritainmemorial.org

One of the static exhibits

With the weather holding still on Thursday we went to Tenterden, to travel on the Kent and East Sussex Railway.  This is a truly superb railway beautifully kept with excellent engines and rolling stock. We travelled through the beautiful Kent and Sussex countryside to Bodiam. www.kesr.org.uk

Again we had a superb day out and would recommend this as an excellent place to visit.

After a restful day on the Friday with just a little shopping in Sittingbourne, we set off for on the Saturday for the 'Giants of Steam Gala', on the Bluebell line. We parked at Horsted Keynes station, and boarded a train to East Grinstead. Again the line runs through lovely countryside.  The train we boarded was really busy so Lizzie was parked in the Guards van. However when we reached Kingscote we were transferred to a first class compartment next to the guards compartment, and there we stayed. Two gentlemen who were members of the railway were in the compartment as well and they told us lots about the line. As we approached East Grinstead they explained that one of the land owners would not sell the Bluebell railway a strip of land that they needed forcing them to reroute. As soon as they had set up the new route he offered to sell them the land, which they declined leaving him with a useless strip of land.  The approach to East Grinstead is through a railway cutting,which was used as a tip after the line was closed. All the rubbish was taken away on the railway as it was excavated from the cutting.  When the station at East Grinstead opened one of the planning constraints on the railway was that no whistles would be blown!

From East Grinstead we travelled back down the line, again first class, to Sheffield Park, before being transferred to another guards van for our return to Horsted Keynes.
a brilliant day out, which we will repeat on a quieter day.  The Bluebell Railway really is a professional railway that is worth a visit!  www.bluebell-railway.com
On the way back to the caravan we went through Tonbridge to look at the house where Lizzie was brought up.

I had spotted that the Bredegar and Wormshill Light Railway was open on the Sunday and it was only just down the road.  It was very foggy but we popped down there anyway.  This railway is operated by about a dozen men who meet to play trains each week, but it is only open to the public half a doxen times a year. The gauge was 24inches I think.   There were ten steam engines, a variety of diesels running on a short track. As well as the railway there were traction engines, tractors a model railway and a tea room, so plenty to see and do. We did not stay long though as it was rather cold and damp!
Some of the engines

One of themini traction engines

A three wheeled delivery van
Part of the model railway

On the Monday we were booked to cross over to Calais from Dover on the midday ferry.  It was very foggy when we got up, so we left earlier than we intended. Three miles down the road we emerged from the fog into bright sunny weather.  This meant that we arrived at Dover ferry terminal over an hour early.  However we were lucky and were loaded straight on to an earlier ferry.  We enjoyed crossing the Oggin, although the ferry we were on was one of P & O's oldest!  Not a patch on the Brittany Ferries we usually travel on.  We were soon in France and found Carrefour so did some shopping.  We then set off in search of a large Hypermarket, and were directed down the motorway, and after a very short time realised that we were in Belgium. Whilst on the motorway we passed the cam where many of the refugees are living. It is absolutely huge.  Quick about turn and we were back in Calais, and at the Hypermarket. Lots more shopping and we then returned for our homeward bound ferry. We were told it was going to be 45 minutes lateleaving, but we  boarded and were on our way at the correct time.  The cost of our trip was £35.00.  As we bought plent of wine that was soon saved, as a box of Muscadet was only 8 euros compared to the UK where it is about £16.00.  We also filled up with diesel at E1.08.

On the Wednesday Lee called into us for morning coffee.  Then we went off to visit Faversham, Whitstable and Herne Bay.
Herne Bay pier

This was once the end of the pier

 We also visited Reculver Towers, again a place I had never been before.

Reculver Towers

The traffic as we travelled back to Bearstead was absolutely awful

We went to Hempstead Shopping centre on Thursday to get some more new clothes from M & S.  We then set off  back through Chatham and Rochester, where I wanted to see the castle, as it was aplace I remember visiting a lot when I was younger.It had certainly been tidied up since I saw it some 40 plus years ago.

Rochester Castle

We had intended to go Dog Racing at Sittingbourne on Thursday, but the restaurant was closed, so we had an evening out with Lee and some of her friends.  Good fun.  I had been looking forward to the Dog Racing as it is something I have never done before, so when we come to Kent it will be on the list of things to do1

On the Friday morning we set off for home and endured a long stop start journey caused by several accidents on the motorways.  The most frustrating one was just before junction 17 of the M4, which is our exit.  We sat for absolutely ages in view of the junction, before the motorway was reopened.

On our way back we collected Jade and Jack as we were all going to Coral's 50th birthday party the following day.

We got home, parked the caravan on the drive, as we were away again the following morning. This time we were only doing one night at Baltic Wharff CC site in the middle of Bristol so that we could go to the party.
It was considerably cheaper to stay there, and get a taxi the mile up the road than getting a taxi from home.
The party was good with plenty there and Coral was very surprised to see everyone!

Coral, Lizzie and Robyn

Well that takes us to 167 nights this year!

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