South Coast Road Trip-Part 3

Friday 14 – Saturday 15 July 2017 – East Sussex, Kent and back to London, England

It was another light breakfast this morning, for today we are feasting. Well, maybe not feasting exactly, but we did have lunch booked at the highly regarded Fish Cafe in Rye so it was important to save space.

To maximise the pending dining experience we are going to take in some sea air and enjoy the delights of two of Kent’s finest but totally different beaches. First on the list is Camber Sands, renowned for its Pontins Holiday Camp and long sandy beaches. With a bit of sun out it did not disappoint, though I could never come here for a holiday. Not with a Pontins nearby. I am also sure if a beach with a German sausage hut on it is really for me either.

Nor a terrace.

But the beach is big, and the sea is miles away. It is a big beach, with a pretty tame sea, especially by the standards of Auckland’s Piha. But tragedy is never far away from water and five young men died here last summer when they were trapped and stuck on a sandbank and were caught by the incoming tide. A terrible tragedy. Never underestimate the sea.

We took a brief walk before driving further up the coast to the surreal, desolate and totally ‘me’ beach at Dungeness. Like Camber Sands and its German sausage hut, I am not sure if I can really do a beach with a nuclear power station on it.

Though you do not come here for the beach, it is all pebbles, but it is a beautiful place and I have vowed to come back and spend some proper photography time here, preferably in a big storm! We stopped for another bad coffee, though the least bad of all the bad coffees we have had so far, so things were getting better. Must be the influence of London. Dungeness is going upmarket.

One of the reasons this is a magnet for photographers is the old fishers’ cottages, I am still using the mobile phone camera so none of these are brilliant, though I am pretty pleased with most of the photos I took. We were lucky that a few dark clouds managed to stray across as we were there.

With lunch not that far away we drove on up the coast to Lydd. I spotted this wrecked boat as we drove past and just had to stop for a few photos. The Jeniray, and her younger sibling Carole Ann. I could have spent a bit of time here, but we didn’t have much left, so it was a few quick snaps of the boats and those magnificent clouds before we were back in the car again.

I liked Lydd!

Completing the loop past Lydd and on to Romney, before heading back to Rye. Though I had to stop for one last photo of those clouds settling down on top of the windmills.

Parking up in Rye we had a few minutes for a stroll before our reservation at the Fish Cafe. We had walked most of the way there before I realised I had not ‘paid and displayed’ in the carpark, so I had a mad dash back to resolve it before I ended up with some monster parking fine. I was lucky…

Lunch, as we expected, was very nice. As was pud, the two (small) glasses of wine, though the coffee was a let down… a recurring nightmare for me. We had an afternoon to kill so took a longer, slower walk around Rye. We loved it when we stayed here in October 2014, though we were not so enamoured with the town this time, maybe it was just busier, and it has gotten a lot or expensive in the past three years. I still like it, just less. There are loads more posts of Rye in the posts from Oct 2014.

On the way back to the B & B we picked up a couple of snacky things to nibble on as we didn’t fancy another meal come dinner time . There was a big breakfast waiting if we wanted it in the morning. We finally spent a few hours doing nothing, reading and having a holiday rest. I did try out the big, deep and wonderful bath in the room as well. Bliss!

The next morning it was holiday all over 😦 After breakfast we were back in the car and taking a slow journey homewards, mainly due to me not really knowing which way to go. Funnily enough we did manage to find Chapel Down vineyard quite easily. It was 10:30am, I was driving, so it was only a very small tasting. We have had, and enjoyed, a few of their wines in the past, so it was quite simple for them to lure is into buying some product. No complaints mind. The English pinot noir was really nice. Who would have thought!

I will say, that finally, after almost a week, I managed to get a good flat white in the cafe at Chapel Down. We must be getting close to civilisation again.

I was not looking forward to London, and yeah, this was why. A very long and slow journey through the Blackwall Tunnel.

It was a great week away, we stayed in some interesting places, found a couple of towns that we want to return to and stay a few more nights in. Maybe one of them will finally turn into our place by the sea!  We shall see.

I love being on holiday, but equally I love coming home after one as well. The return from this one was slightly less enjoyable as we have the decorators in from Monday doing some insurance work after a minor subsidence issue. We have to shift all the furniture out of the front room, not a lot of fun, hopefully it will only last a couple of weeks, but who knows…..

Rye Nature Reserve and Camber Castle.

Sunday 21 September 2014 – Rye, East Sussex – Part two.

Our Saturday in the lovely East Sussex village of Rye turned into a big day with too many things to see and do to fit it all onto one post, so in a very rare event I decided to split the day sort of in half and do two posts. Yesterday’s post had us looking around the village and the very old inn we were staying in and finished as we found a small cafe on the edge of town to stop in for lunch.

We had initially planned on walking out of town, along the edge of the River Rother down to the sea and then northwards across Camber Sands towards Dungeness and its charming power plant. However after visiting the information centre and seeing a map I wanted to visit Camber Castle which is on the south side of the river and in the middle of the Rye Nature Reserve. This also meant a walk down the river to the sea, with the bonus of a castle and a double bonus of no power station – so that is what we decided to do.

After crossing the river on the edge of town we found a narrow and twisting track through about a million nettle bushes that slightly more scenically took us down to the river, the second option was to walk by the roadside, so while this was a little stingy in parts, at least we were away from the traffic.

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It did not last for long and we soon walking on the edge of the nature reserve and some farm land – and I could see the castle off in the distance, which kept me nice and excited.

Just past the village of Rye Harbour we found the first of a string of Martello Towers, these were built to protect the harbour during the Napoleonic Wars in 1809. This one was built on the edge of the sea, which is now, only 200 or so years later, almost a kilometre away… I liked the tower but was disappointed we were not allowed to go near it.

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The walk from the village down by the river was really nice, if very bleak. I loved the clouds and the absence of trees or any life apart from birds.

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This is real birder country and there was a hide on the edge of the marsh land that had half a dozen birders perched over their binoculars, looking out over the water.

On the edge of the beach are a couple of pillboxes left over from the war, a modern rendition of the Napoleonic Martello Towers.

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There is also a long sea wall built that is constantly being extended to prevent the pebbly beach washing across the rover mouth – sealing off the river and the harbour forever.

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I really enjoyed the walk down the beach towards Winchelsea and Hastings, and I took way more photos than the load that I have posted here. I really would have liked to have had my big camera with its wide angle to really capture the immensity of the scene, but then it would have taken all day and I wouldn’t have made it that far.

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There is an old Royal Navy Lifeboat Institution shed on the beach and just before we reached it we followed one of the lovely old and slowly disintegrating groynes to the small path at the top. Which was a bit of a relief as walking on those pebbles for a couple of kilometres was hard work.

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The lifeboat shed on the beach is used as a memorial to the seventeen members of a Rye lifeboat crew who all tragically perished in a storm as they went to rescue the crew of a stranded Latvian ship back in 1928. It was later discovered that the Latvian crew had already been rescued.

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On that cheery note we soon turned inland and followed the path around the far edges of the ponds to find Camber Castle. I was really looking forward to seeing the castle as it is a really unusual design.

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The castle was started in 1512 as a circular tower built to defend the harbour at Rye, it was extended in 1544 with four smaller circular towers built around the outside and linked by walls. It was the first of a series of castles built under King Henry VIII to defend the harbours in Rye Bay. Like the Martello Towers and Ypres Tower in Rye itself, the building of the castle was rendered pointless as it was abandoned in less than hundred years later as the shoreline moved too far away.

I took a few photos as we walked around the outside and was looking forward to going in for a look at this quite different style of castle. I was rudely shocked to find the castle is only open to tours at 2:00pm on the first Saturday of the month in the summer. What bullshit. I was a bit aggravated to say the least and may have said some bad words that reflected poorly on English Heritage….

I was so disappointed, as it is lovely. I really liked the wind and sea air damage to the stone walls, and I can see that the site is potentially unsafe, but nanny state rules gone mad again.

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There were some more lovely squally rain clouds as we walked back towards Rye, and I could not help myself but take some more photos.

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I think El got tired of waiting !

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We crossed over a very tidal side river and were soon back in town, up the short steep road to the Mermaid Inn and sitting in the side outside with a well earned gin and tonic.

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As we had had a very light lunch we decided to eat early and headed out just after six. We had seen a nice looking restaurant as we walked town earlier in the day and this was one was quite reasonably priced compared to most – still ‘west end’ prices though. Rye is very expensive ! We were lucky to get a seat as long as we were finished before 8:00 as it was fully booked out. We did have a great meal and a nice bottle of rose to go with it. Much better than last night!

We had a bit of a lie in on Sunday morning, followed by breakfast in the hotel – I didn’t eat as much as yesterday though ! After breakfast we packed up and checked out before heading back to the station. We had read earlier that the train had been replaced by a bus service to Ashford, we were not sure on how many buses were running and how many people were likely to be there so we took the cautious route and went early. Luckily.

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The bus service was a cluster-disaster, buses didnt arrive, the station attendant had no idea what was going on. After almost an hour of waiting and people coming the other way arriving by taxi the station attendant came out to tell us the bus was half an hour away. It arrived as she walked back into the station…

From there it was an uneventful journey to Ashford, where we managed to catch the fast train into London and home.

It was another pretty awesome weekend away. We both loved Rye.

The old town of Rye.

Saturday 20 September 2014 – Rye, East Sussex – Part one…

September has turned into a bit of a busy month, something I am really pleased about as I had suspected that with work now in full swing I would get a bit tired and lazy and end up not doing too much at the weekends. However, this was a weekend away that El and I booked a few weeks ago, my birthday was on Wednesday and we decided we would celebrate it by going somewhere new, and for no reason other than it looked nice we picked the village of Rye, under two hours away by train on the south east coast.

I would like to say that we picked Rye as it was a coastal town worth investigating for a property, and factually speaking Rye was a coastal town – about 2000 years ago. Since then the shoreline has slowly moved away as the shallows around the entrance to the River Rother have silted up after bad storms in the 1200s and the town is now about two miles from the sea. Isn’t the earth amazing?

We met after work on Friday at St Pancras Station with the intention to get the fast train to Ashford where we would pick up another train that would take us to Rye. We had an hour to wait until the train we planned on getting left, but saw on the board that an earlier train was about to leave so we dashed down to the platform and jumped on the train – only to find it was the slowest of the slow Ashford trains, and it ran slowly as well. One of us was not happy. The train arrived late into Ashford, but with luck on our side the train to Rye was still in the station and we managed to jump just before it left, saving us another half an hour delay.

We arrived in Rye, slightly late, but in time to unpack and settle before the 8:30 reservation we had made in the hotel restaurant. It was dark when we arrived and there was a light fog settling in as well. The hotel was five minutes from the station and it was a little eerie walking up through the narrow streets surrounded by some quite old houses. One of the reasons we chose to stay in Rye is because it had a cool looking hotel – The Mermaid Inn, which we had chosen to stay in. The hotel has a very long – and quite chequered history, originally built in the 1100s it was rebuilt in 1420.

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Our room was on the top floor, up some narrow and creaky stairs, in an attic space under a gabled roof. It was pretty lovely, the first thing I did was take a look out the window, then grabbed my freshly fixed camera and took a time exposure out of the window of the Tudor houses in the street. I was so excited about getting out and about tomorrow morning !

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We had dinner in the hotel restaurant and while the food was good, it was extremely expensive, and sadly in our opinion not particularly good value. If I was paying that much in London I would have expected a lot more for the money. Service, ambiance and food.

The first thing I did when I woke up was to check out the window again to see if last night’s fog was still hanging around, and I was really pleased to see that it was. We decided we would take a brief walk around the village before breakfast to see what it looked like before too many people got up and before all the fog had lifted.

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IMG 0660It was pretty magic outside, though the worst of the fog had gone before got out the door. The old part of the town of Rye sits on a hill overlooking the old harbour. There have been people living here since before Roman times, though most of the buildings are from the 1400’s onwards as the French destroyed the town in the late 1300s.

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I knew there was an old fort – Ypres Tower, in the town and it didn’t take too long to find it, and of course we planned on visiting again later in the day – during opening hours. The fort was originally built in 1259 to defend against the constantly marauding French, in fact the name Rye comes from the French word, Rie – meaning sand bank.

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The view from the canon ramparts was not that spectacular in the fog…

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There was also some great doors and door signs!

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I loved this one…

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After a nice pre-feed walk we went back to the hotel for breakfast before starting out on our unplanned adventure for the day. We started with a quick tour around the inside of the Mermaid Inn. It is a glorious building, home for also sorts of people from ancient pirates to more recent actors and politicians (more pirates !).

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Room 19 is supposed to be haunted, I just had a peak in the door, didn’t see anything. But I noticed the people who stayed there had left….

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We decided to more thoroughly walk the village, we needed some cash and a map of the area, and ended up with both. Along with two pairs of boots for me and a small clock for El – we were not planning on shopping, honest ! We did go into the local, and quite cool second hand record shop -where we didn’t buy anything…

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Nor did we buy anything from one of the two old school sweet shops.

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At the end of one side of town is the Landgate, the last remaining old town gate from what was a fully walled town. The Landgate and the wall were started in the 1340s after a French invasion. To no avail as there was a further invasion in 1370 and the town was largely destroyed.

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The village is really lovely, it is definitely a tourist destination as it has been so well preserved – so many of these buildings are listed and therefore protected by law. Thank goodness.

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We headed back for a fascinating tour of Ypres Tower before stopping for lunch in a small cafe, just as the tourist crowds really started to arrive.

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Wow, so far so good !! It was a pretty packed day, so I will make this my first two part blog post ever 🙂