Blakeney 2017 – The journey there

Cley Windmill view
Cley Windmill view

Another holiday in North Norfolk! We haven;t been for just over a year. We left the house just before 10 and obeyed the SatNav which took us on the M25 to the A1M then Cambridge way and through Thetford forest via Mildenhall and Lakenheath. We stopped and at the Lakenheath watching area but as promised by the website it was like most weekends, nothing was happening, so we stretched our legs for 5 minutes and carried on to Swaffham  where we grabbed supplies at the Waitrose.

The cottage was a bungalow just off Mariner Hill and had a parking space which is very rare for Blakeney. Parking was a challenge but a neighbour put us right, the parking for the cottage was not outside by the other side of the next door neighbour. I would have loved to see the plans for the cluster of houses, because there were parking spaces belonging to houses opposite and orphaned well kept gardens.  We unpacked and I did me Osteopath homework to sort out my back, then we went for a walk.

Blakeney harbour sunset
Blakeney harbour sunset

We walked to Cley along the sea wall the weather was warm despite the breeze, and the weather for the week promised more of the same if not warmer. At Cley we got the bus back to Blakeney, had a swift half and booked a table for Sunday evening then retired to the hut for some more back exercises and a salad dinner. We watched Babs on iPlayer which I thought was average and Helen really enjoyed. Helen then watched Graham Norton Show while I went down to the quay to get some pictures of the Sunset.

We were looking forward to the  rest of the week.

Three museums for the price of one

Weather forecast was grey in the morning and sunny later on so we decided the Spitfire museum at Mamston would fill the morning till the sun was out, then we could go for a walk around the coast in the area. I got the sat nav wrong and we ended up in the wrong direction, butHrle. Soon sorted it out being the sat nav master.

We found the museum at Mamston right next to Kent International airport, which has a campaign going to keep it open smbolised by thousands of yellow ribbons tied to the fence for hundreds of yards either side of the main entrance. The museum car park is shared by two museums the Spitfire one and one relating to Manston Airfield. We did the Spitfire one first free entry and consists of a building with two big rooms each housing a spitfire, and plenty of donated artefacts in glass cabinets each with an explanation of the article plus the name of the donor. The most amusing thing was the description of how the Spitfire tank and bomb brackets had been used to fly beef over the Channel to the troops on the continent.

The second museum cost £2 to get in and was quite smatuer, but had some great displays of part and whoke aircrafts including some jets from the early days. Some of them looked positively antique compared to their contemporary craft.

We headed to Rams gate for a walk but the place looked very down on its heels and the parking was a coendive do we headed to Margate instead where we spend £6.50 on parking on the quay, which i almost lost when the wind blew it out of the machine and almost over the harbour wall, I chased it and managed to get it which was essential as we had. No more change. At the tourist office nearby they arranged a taxi to Botkny Bay Hotel at Kingsgate where we had lunch, i had a crab sandwich.

We set off and the wind was cold but when we got around the headland we were protected and even more once we descended didn’t to the beach where we spent the rest of the walk back to the harbour. On the way we saw some graffiti in local chalk on the sea wall, mentioning Ken Kaneki, #sarumi, and #karmaisa. Apparently an amine TV series called Tokyo Ghoul features they character, Wikipedia article.

The Turner Contemporary provided a nice coffee and cake before we had a look around the gallery. The heart was very modern with a special exhibition about threads, i.e. material and string. There is always done Turner on display and in the corridor leading to the toilets we found some fine etchings on display. The lift was interesting it had been lined with carpet then yogurt had been used to paint abstract designs, it smelt a bit, but apparently not as much as it had in the earlier days. Helen has a look at the museum gift shop while i headed to the amusements on the front. I never made I there but I did find a great shop selling g all sorts of s come hand camera equipment, bought some bellows for £25 after haggling, they are the wrong for bit there are plenty of adapters on eBay.

I met Helen back at the car and we made our way back to the hut for the last time. We loaded the car with the heavy stuff when we got back to save time in the morning. We had a table booked at the Zetland Arms at 18:30.

Windy walk Kingsdown to White Cliffs of Dover

We had planned to go to Chatham Maritime museumbut when we got up the weather had changed from the forecast, the sun was out and it was going to be bright all day. I hatched a plan to walk from the National Trust visitor centre at the White Cliffs of Dover, to Kingsdown. After some bad working out which way the wind was blowing we ended up driving to the visitor centre, to get a taxi back to Kingsdown.

The man at the centre was very helpful not only was he able to provide a phone number for Dover Royal Taxis he honestly up and arranged it for us. 5 minutes later the taxi arrived and whisked us away back to Kingsdown for the second time in a day (don’t ask!).

The wind was still cold but with the wind behind us it was not unfortable, and if we kept in from the cliff there was a kind of a lee in the wind. We expected a few up hill sections being a coastal path and all. We were not disappointed after half a mile came the first one it was short and steep and deposited us at the top of the cliff, where a path and track was lined by some lovely houses with impressive views over the channel.

A few miles later adter passing the Walker and Kingsdown  a golf club, we reached St Margaret at Cliffe, where the path dropped down again. We stopped at the The Pines garden tearoom and museum, where we stopped for a coffee and cake. The orange and gooseberry cake was just right. Next was an up hill plus to a high point where the South Foreland Lighthouse, which is owned by the national trust, however on this day it was shut, during the warmer months there is a tea room open.

After the hard slog out of the vilkage to the lighthouse was needed a rest and a suitable bench appeared so we rested for 10 minutes. Over the next brow in the hill i noticed some concrete structures in the hillside, and it sprung to mind that they were parabolic listening mirtorsused to detect distant aircraft before radar was invented. There was a path across Langdon Hole and a steep set of step that led to them, said to Helen that I was going to take a look, Helen bravely followed.

The structures were fenced off but you could get close enough for a good look. There were two one about three metres in diameter the other slightly smaller. The final steps backup out of the valley were very steep and we stopped to catch our breath at the top. It was not far back to the visitor centre, but we took a slight detour to take in a view from the headland, it made us realise how our decision to walk with the wind behind had been the right on, as we walked into the wind back to the path.

Back at the centre we stopped for a cup of tea before heading back to the gut via a supermarket to get some dinner. It had been a really nice walk especially given the weather.

Dover Castle is a big place

With rain threatening we thought we might have to go further afield to find something indoors, but we woke up to a bright day the rain had been delayed until after lunch. We decided that Dover Castle should be our destination, it was just a few miles down the road.

We left the hut at 09:00 and stopped off at the national trust White Cliffs of Dover visitors centre, where we attempted a walk along the coast to the lighthouse tea room, however we only got a third of the way there before the cold biting wind got the better of us. We went to the cafe to warm up and found out that but the lighthouse was closed so it was a good job we turned back, Helen would have been incandescent had we got there and the tea room was found to be shut.

After a pleasant coffee we had and enjoyable hour overlooking the port of Dover and the activities going. I tuned the scanner into the operations team choosing which lanes to load next while my camera took a timelapse of the boat loading. Next stop would be the castle.

The entry fee just shy of £20 seemed a bit steep, but Helen was paying, so i went with the flow. The wind was not letting up and the shelter of the tunnels that we looked at first was welcome. The tours of the medical wing followed by one with a multi-media show explaining the Dunkirk retreat wax very enlightening and done very well. We stopped at the NAAFI restaurant for a cheese scone and a coffee before getting the land train to the mail n event the iconic castle that you can see on top of the hill from the town.

There is an Anglo Saxon church on the highest point which is right next to if not connected to a Roman lighthouse. We had a look around the inside of the church. It was quite different and perhaps had a military influence very regimented and neat. Every pew had the allotted number of prayer kneelers and each was precisely spaced across he length of the pew. I did not spot a grave yard outside which is unusual for a church perhaps because the area id inhabited.

Finally we visited the great tower, and popped into a regimental museum which was a bonus museum on the site. The great tower was a bit disappointing for me because the place was made to look like they think it would have looked in the past but it all looked too new and colourful. We had had our time in the building because they announced it would be closing in fifteen minutes. We exited via the gift shop.

On the way home we heard on the radio that there had been a suspected terrorist attempt at Westminster, and when we got home we followed events on TV.

We went to the Zetland Arms for dinner.

Trip to La Belle France

We were up early for a 09:50 shuttle to France, in fact early enough to just miss the 08:50, but have enough time to grab a coffee before the 09:20. The terminal was very quiet unlike it suspect it would be during the holiday season. Our destination was Cap Gris Nez to have a look at the gun battery and take a walk, then to Wissant a little seaside town with a lovely beach.

It always seems like a bit of a barrier to travel the channel, in the sense that when you are on the continent you can just get in your car and drive to anywhere, even as far as Beijing, from England there is a stretch of water in the way and no easy way across it. You have to book ahead then drive to a place then wait for a while get loaded onto a boat or train then wait till you are delivered to the continent. It would be a bit different if the tunnel was a drive through one because the while booking ahead and loading would not be necessary. In reality you spend 30 minutes being shaken, while you talk shit on you blog.

It did not take long to get accustomed to driving in the gutter. We headed down the lovely smooth autoroute and got off following the signs Cap Gris-Nez, where there is a car park and awalk to some viewing points. Unfortunately the wind was cold so we did hang about. We did notice what we thought were Meadow Pipits and then a Marsh Harrier quartering a field. Next we headed to a museum in a gun battery, however it was shut till 14:00, so we went to Wissant, and parked up on the town square. Lunchtime was approaching so the town was shutting down, so we grabbed a coffee in the loacl bar, before heading down to the beach, where again we did not spend too much the fighting the elements, but headed back to a cafe for some lunch. I had a cheese sandwich and Helen a  cheese gallette.we were in the conservatory so it was nice and warm with the sun shinning in.

After lunch we went to the Twist build battery, where a very big 380mm gun was built by the Germans, opened by Hitler, and surrendered to the Canadians. Now it is quite a good museum with displays of  WWII artefacts and exhibits. In the museum shop you could buy antique war memorabilia, including done genuine Russian and Swiss baynettes!

Next was a drive along the coast towards Calsis., Which was enjoyable withe sweeping vistas as the road ascended and descended valleys. We planned to turn around before we got to Calais but there were road works so we had to go into Valid before turning around and heading to Cite Europe shopping centre.

At the shopping centre we stocked up on food we never normally buy, some wine for Hrkrn and i got a couple of local beers and a box of Cidre doux which is only 2.5% and is quite quaffable. By the time we had shopped Helen has seen enough of France so we headed back to the tunnel terminal and managed to just miss a train but ended up at the very front of the queue for the 17:19 delayed by 5 minutes.

We were back in blighty just a few minutes late, and feasted on out supermarche purchases for dinner.

Sissinghurst and Canterbury

Rain day so we decided to use the car, and do a tour for the day. Main stops would be Cranbrook, Sissinghurst and Canterbury. Whilst having breakfast iIbooked the tunnel for a trip to France on the Tuesday, then we left and drove through thick drizzle, to Cranbrook where we had a coffee and a look around the church and graveyard looking for Helen’s relatives.

By the time we got to the National Trust property at Sissinghurst, the rain had stopped, but it was a bit windy and damp. We had a look at the garden which I image would look fantastic in a months time. There is a tower in the middle of the property and I took the opportunity to trapse up to the top for a look at the view. It allows you to get a good overview of the whole garden which is very extensive, There is a cottage in the grounds where the most recent owners used to live, and we got on the 13:00 tour.

With some time to spare we had some lunch I had some lovely pea, lettuce and mint soup. The tour of the house was very interesting, just a few rooms but they were covered in book shelves and looked lived in. Next we had a look at the library in the main building where they had book conservators demonstrating their work.

We decided to return back via Canterbury where Helen got some Euro’s for tomorrow and a pair of shoes she hoped would be less slippery that the ones she was wearing. There is a great eclectic museum in the centre full of art, artefacts, stuffed birds and other random stuff, just the sort of museum Helen and I like.

We had burgers for dinner and had an early night as we had reasonably early start to get to France,

A Sandwich Deal walk

We made a leisurely start and headed out the house at 10:00 destination Deal train station, the plan was to get the train to Sandwich and walk back to Deal, via the local coastal path. We arrived early for the 11:00 train so we took a still around town and grabbed some supplies. The train was waiting for us, it was the London train to Start Pancras, I guess it takes a loop around from London via Margate.

The journey was only 6 minutes, and we headed in to town then turned right at the car park by the river and headed out towards the sea. We had a golf course cross and just before we spotted a Ring-necked Parakeet flying over. Once we had crossed the Royal St George golf course with its appropriately red crossed green flags, we to the sea where there was a gathering of Dachshund owners and their hounds. We stopped for a sandwich fittingly overlooking Sandwich Bay.

We walked past Sandwich Bay Estate which was by the sea and made up mainly of houses with more than 10 bedrooms. Apparently one was once owned by the Astor’s and another by Jonathan Aitkin. We noticed one had a robotic lawn mower not sure if that meant they could not afford a gardener. The wind started to pick as we passed another golf course, luckily it was not exactly again us it was coming from the land, and eventually we were able to descend from the sea wall to a path somewhat sheltered by dunes.

The seats on the edge of Deal were a welcome rest, especially for me who had decided it was time to take up running again. My first run in the morning had been 1.5 miles and taken me 17 minutes, not a four minute mile but you have to start somewhere. I used to do sub 10 minute miles for four miles. My aim is to be able to run for 30 minutes.

We stopped for a coffee on the seafront and then wandered back to the station to get the car and Helen booked at table at the Zetland Arms it seemed to be the best pub in the village so we thought we would try it first. On the way back we managed to find the “Ham Sandwich” sign at Finglesham. It was hard to park up but we managed to get a few shots before any traffic came.

Kingsdown – a bonus holiday day

It is holiday time again, in March because we both took a weeks holiday over from last year. We had plans to fly to somewhere warm but when you failed to organise something we ended up booking a cottage in Kingsdown near Deal in Kent. The night before we got a call from the cottage owner explaining that the cottage was ready and we could turn up any time. That meant we could drive straight there and not have to waste time finding somewhere to visit on the way. Essentially we could gain a days holiday, so we got up at 07:30 and headed out at just before 09:00.

The trip around the M25 was traffic free, but one unexpected task was to have to pay for the crossing at Dartford there are no longer pay stations you have until midnight the day after to pay up online. We missed a couple of sat nav instructions and ended up going via the port of Dover, but the detour only added a couple of minutes to the overall journey.

We arrived at the cottage at 11:00 and quickly unloaded the car. The approach to the village has some very tight roads, and there was a lot of giving way to other cars. We soon found the cottage for the week, an end of terrace on an unadopted road that leftover the sea.we were just over the road from a freehouse called​ The Rising Sun, and a hundred yards from The Zetland Arms a Shepherd Neame pub literally on the pebble beach, which after a quick look at the beach we sampled it’s wares. We has a cheese sandwich and a drink each, before taking a drive to Deal for a look around.

We chose Sandwich instead, and before that Pegwell bay, which is mud flat just outside Sandwich. We arrived at a good time as the tide was starting to come in, pushing the waders, closer to the hide. The pictures on the hide wall promised lots of waders but we were happy with Redshank, Curlew, and a start Avocet amongst some ducks.

Sandwich is a nice little town with old buildings that over hang the streets. It seems ytgat Saturday afternoon was notthebest time to visit as some of the shops were shut. We as a wander around then headed back to the car. On the way back we detoured via Finglesham where there is a sign with both Ham and Sandwich which I hoped to be pictured by, however we had not done enough research and would have to return another day.

Back at the hut i watched the Rugby which England lost to Ireland meaning they failed to break the record for consequtive wins and also the Six Nations Grand Slam, they did however win the Six Nations overall.

We were in bed early as the TV at the hut was tiny and we had to use my laptop to watch Amazon Prime.

St Agnes – Holywell and back via Pentile Point

Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach
Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach

Last day of the holiday in Cornwall and although it is an even day we went for a walk, as we had been in training all week. The plan was to park up at the Holywell car park then walk in land to West Pentile where this is pub called the Bowgie Inn, then walk back to Holywell beach via the coastal path.

Once parked up at the National Trust car park, free for members and adding to the savings to offset against the membership fee, we walked in land flowing a river and passing through a very extensive camping and caravan park. The we did an acute turning and headed up a hill that once at the top gave a great view of the area with the sea visible of three sides of the square so to speak.

Seals on a rock
Seals on a rock

We descended down from the peak and crossed a road and then the path went through a caravan park which was closed for the season, it had many activities including a fishing lake, and the notice boards promised entertainers, singers and comedians, including once called Jim Gutrench. A gold course followed with the path nicely protected by Cornish walls/mounds. Eventually we descended down into a valley where there was a car park for a beach we would pass later. The way out of the valley was confusing but we eventually hit the right path which lead to a road or track again up the hill till we got to West Pentire, the a the Bowgie Inn beckoned, and what a great find it was.

The Bowgie Inn is in a small village but as we approached we noticed it was quite busy and lots of outside seating, it was clear why when we got there. The view of Crantock Bay is fantastic and the light we we arrived was almost perfect. We stopped for a coffee and a bag of crisps and I took a time lapse sequence. We lingered for a while watching the surfers in the distance the breaks were quite a way out so a couple of them were getting really long run ins.

The path crosses the bottom of the pub garden, which was handy. The next few miles were spectacular, and the photo opportunities many. Eventually we came across Pentire beach which we had passed earlier, and found a spot to have our sandwiches, it was idyllic and the perfect spot to share lunch on our last full day in Cornwall. The sea was a deep blue and breaking in parallel waves onto the beach, and the sky was blue with the occasional passing fluffy cloud.

Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach
Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach

The walk back to Holywell bay was quite eventful, first Helen spotted some seals on a rock just off the coast. We watched them for a while and the total count at one point was 12, far out stripping our best tally of the week of two.  A little further on I went to look at whatever the couple were looking at over the cliff it turned out to be a sheep part way down the cliff. It was standing still looking like it could not decide which way to get out, I was not about to try and rescue it because the way out was fairly obvious.

The last mile and a half were down hill and then on the beach. It was tedious walking across the dry sand at the top until we found that the damp sand by the stream that runs down the beach was much easier walking. We were back at the hut at the same time as the owners who had been to The Eden Project as a treat for their wedding anniversary. We had a chat then retired to the hut to tidy up and pack so we could get an early start. We had fish and chips for tea from the chippy opposite the pub, my hake was very  nice and the chips were double cooked so very crispy.

St Agnes – Porthtowan back to to the pub

Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach
Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach

We had a plan to walk from Porthtowan back to the pub for a half, but the buses were not convenient either a early start or a late start. Then I remember that there is a museum in St Agnes and the bus stop was near by. So the plan emerged, we would walk up to the museum for the 10:30 opening time then we would have an hour before the 11:30 bus. That mean a leisurely start, we left the house at 10:00.

We walked up through the village which thus far we had only seen from the car. There is the St Agnes Hotel signs that the place was once and important town. Then we cam across the Railway Inn yet more evidence that the place was important. The museum would reveal all.

Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach
Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach

We got to the museum just as it opened and a friendly man welcomed us in. The museum is very interesting and very well done. It gives you a great insight into the history of the area right up to current days with a cabinet showing a multi-generation of doctors who have served in the village. We were early for the bus so I bought a paper and we sat at the bust stop and caught up with the news.

Walk through village hill There were quite a few people at the bus stop but when the 315 arrived we were the only ones to get on. I guess the rest were waiting for the 87 to Newquay or Truro. The bus takes a rurtal route and takes a least one detour to visit villages. Eventually we were dropped off near the beach at Porthtowan. We headed straight for the coat path and the hard slog of getting out of the river valley. Just before Porthchapel we came across a bench with a view where we had our sandwiches and did some sea watching. Helen spotted something which we took a while to figure out what it was, but eventually we realised that it was a Sunfish a rare but increasingly more common sighting in Cornwall.

Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach
Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach

It was a pretty short walk down to Porthchapel where we had a coffee at the National Trust coffee shack. We headed the beach to enjoy our beverages and the view. I took a timelapse set. We then headed on again up the steep hill towards St Agnes. On out left was the beacomn the man in the museum had explained about and Helen was interested in because of the arrow heads found there and on display, however after the slog up the coast path Heln declined the offer to walk to the top of the beacon.

Near the coat watch car park there the local radio control club were flying gliders, the steady breeze from the sea made it a great location, however I guess mistakes can be costly with the sea and the cliffs. As we left the coat watch I noticed a man on the floor ahead, in my binoculars they were not moving but then he started to get up slowly. I rushed ahead and check that he was OK, he was I think he was just embarassed at having fallen over.

The final mile or two was on familiar territory with great views as the sun dipped lower. Back in the village we used the excuse to book a table to eat to buy a sneaky half. We had had a lovely day in perfect weather.