13 October 2019 – YHA Weekend, the south Kent Coast.
Our Walthamstow social group has been holding a weekend away for many years, well before I came on the scene. These are family affairs with 20 or 30 people or all ages attending. This is the fourth year that El and I have gone, and these weekends have appeared in past posts. The events are held in Youth Hostel Assocation (YHA) or similar properties, often in off-the-beaten-track locations. This year we were staying in a big old hostel building in Ringwould, just up the coast and slightly inland from Dover. I am guessing there was about 25 of us, including the ‘kids’, the youngest are all at university, so maybe kids is not quite right, maybe youf is more apt. Everyone was of drinking age, and there was a lot of drinking.
I have recently become a director of the residents association for the block where my flat is. The AGM was on Friday night so I worked from the flat during the day, attending the meeting in the early evening before joining El who had come down to join me after work.
The Saturday activity at the YHA weekender is a bike ride, as El doesn’t ride we didn’t rush up the coast from St Leonards to Ringwould. We eventually arranged to meet some other non-riders for lunch in a pub in the small coastal Kent village of Kingsdown.
I severely under-estimated how long it would take to drive from the flat, thinking it was going to be an hour or so. It took close to two hours, and not just because of bad traffic, it was a lot further than I expected. Apparently maps would have me this, lesson learned. I was very tempted to stop on the way and take some photos; it was quite gloomy out, lots of drizzle and low cloud. It would have been a great day to visit Dungeness, a place I had just finished reading a book about. However, we had committed to meeting friends for lunch, so I carried on. I finally conceded we were going to be very late so we rang out friends and found their deadline had changed so they could not wait for us any longer than they had. I then stopped and took this photo of the pylons half shrouded in cloud, my favourite of the photos I have taken on the Polaroid. These cameras are made for a ghostly bleak environment.
Even though our friends had left we chose to visit Kingsdown regardless, it is very close to where we are staying and had a pub that looked like a nice spot for lunch. The Zetland Arms was mentioned in another book I had recently finished reading and as it was right on the beach I thought it might make for some good photo opportunities. It did. It was also a great pub, with a very good pint of red ale, a friendly vibe, and a difficult to choose from excellent menu. We both had fish chowder and it was delicious.
I immediately liked Kingsdown, it is a small village nestled in a narrow strip between the sea and the cliffs, and it will not exist when the sea level rises. Off the main road the ‘streets’ are pebble, like the beach. The line between the beach, the roads and gardens is a blurred, marked by fences and chains. After heavy rain the ‘road’ was full of luckily, not deep puddles. Its permanence seems quite temporary.
Kingsdown sits between the northern end of the white cliffs of Dover and Walmer/Deal. It is not on any tourist trail, maybe with the exception of the Zetland Arms and its great view and menu. Camera and Polaroid.
After lunch we took a very quick walk around, and I took some pictures on both the Polaroid and the digital cameras. I really like this place, and I love this stretch of coast for its not quite barrenness, it’s almost isolation and it’s almost bleakness.
After our late lunch and the brief photographic stroll we drove the six minutes to the YHA and let ourselves in, everyone else was still out. Once settled I had a glass of wine; the less said about the evening the better! Sunday morning was slow, very slow.
Once packed up we all drove to St Margarets in Cliffe, another village one Kent coast. Just south of Kingsdown, between there and Dover. The weather continued to be poor, not cold, but windy, damp and miserable. I have been here before, a couple of years ago when El and I did a week long tour of the south coast; trying to find the perfect location for me to buy a flat. Not that we were looking at St Margaret’s Bay, there is nothing here, but it does have a view of some white cliffs, which is what we were came here for back then, as now.
We had a brief walk, and stare at the sea, I took a couple more photos before we got in the car and I drove us back to Walthamstow.
Unpacking the car at home I managed to drop the Polaroid again, this time it was in \ bag, and juggling for house keys while carrying too many things I dropped the bag. The camera did not recover this time, and no longer works 😦
I was very angry and upset with myself, this was a gift from El, something I had wanted for a while and I had broken it inside five weeks. I was lucky that El was more forgiving. Thank you lovely xx
I have now bought a replacement, the same model and of similar vintage, thankfully they are reasonably common on eBay. I hope it works as well and as magically as the one El bought me.