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 – The journey there

St Agnes beach view
St Agnes beach view

September is a traditional late year holiday, and this year unusually the the family get together was not happening so rather than two weeks we are only taking the one. We were off to St Agnes in Cornwall. We have never been there before but we have been further north and further south up the Cornish coat before.

We planned to leave about 08:00 but I was up earlier than anticipated and we got away at 07:30. I had been saving Archers episodes for the journey so we had the hour long special and the 5 following episodes to watch. We weren’t that impressed with the trial episode probably because with the Archers you get to know the characters but this episode was with a jury of unknown characters, even if some of them were familiar actors. We decided taking the A303 because it avoided the M4/M5 junction at Bristol. We were happy with out decision because we got to Killerton National Trust without any traffic issues.

Wheal Coates near St Agnes
Wheal Coates near St Agnes

Killerton is a smallish house and had an exhibition around the craft of weaving and making wool, which has links to the property. We had a look around the house then some lunch in the cafe and made our way on to Cornwall our planned destination Trelissick on the south of Cornwall.

Things however did not go to plan when we got to the A30 there was a sign suggesting that we should take the North road to North Cornwall instead. Helen did not feel that that was the best course of action, and convinced me, so I turned back and got on the A30 which  looked OK with light traffic. We made good headway until we got to the road works for the new dual carriage way across Bodmin, where we  spent 45 minutes in queuing and very slow traffic. It looked like we would nboit be able to take in Trelissick and in fact Helen needed to phone the people and let them know we would be later than anticipated.

Sea view near St Agnes
Sea view near St Agnes

We stopped off in Truro for some provisions, we got some great salads from Waitrose Cornish section. Strangely you have to pay for the Cornish stuff in the Cornish section, we did not know that and at the till we were told we needed to go back and pay for it.

We got to the cottage at about 16:45 it was fairly easy to find, and the owners who live next door were very welcoming. We unpacked and then went for a walk down to the sea, where we found a fish and chip shop as well as a pub that sold real ale. There was no beach to see but the tide was fully in. Everything looked good for an excellent week on holiday.

Osprey at Weston Turville reservoir

Osprey Weston Turville Reservoir
Osprey Weston Turville Reservoir

Since the first week of our holiday I had seen reports on Twitter of an Osprey at Weston Turville reservoir, a local to home reservoir. It is pretty small as reservoirs go there is a sailing club but they sail small boats like Lasers. I would say it is about 200 metres by 300-400 metres. I thought I should check it out, so I dropped Helen off at her folks and popped round.

The signs were good there were bird watchers there with scopes and binoculars. I enquired about the Osprey it had apparently made an appearance earlier and caught two fish, but had not been seen for a while. Time lapse and birding are quite complimentary as you can set the camera up and use the waiting time to watch for birds. That is exactly what I did, I tried out my new panning device bought on Amazon for less tgat £20, basically a good quality kitchen timer.

Osprey Weston Turville Reservoir
Osprey Weston Turville Reservoir

I had done one sequence and popped over to start a new one, taking in the sailing rave tgat had just started and noticed that the other bird watchers had got all excited. The Osprey was back, it circled over the water for a while, giving me a chance to get some shots, as it passed over the bank end of the reservoir, then headed off towards Stoke Mandeville. Mission accomplished, next I popped up to Coombe hill to get some more sequences, there was s nothing like doing something to get proficient at it, the old 10,000 hours theory.

Laser Weson Turville Reservoir
Laser Weson Turville Reservoir

I put the GoPro on the panorama plinth at the monument, at the top of Coombe hill, it got some funny looks and some questions but I managed to do 20 minutes which equates to 120 degrees of panning. Some people were I view at times but I hoped that it would add to the final video, remember every day is a school day.

The rest of the day was spent processing photo’s and videos and catching up on missed TV especially “This is England 90”

Body boarding in Croyde Bay

Relaxed start to the day for me but three of the party went down to the beach at seven in the morning for a swim. Well I say seven but in reality even though Helen had prepared her stuff, she was still ferreting around and rustling about in our bedroom at 07:30! I got up at about 08:30 and made myself some breakfast, black cherry jam on toast and a mug of coffee.

The other came back at about 09:00 they had managed to get wet up to the ankles (ed: it was above the knee!) and complained that the water was cold. We sat around deciding what we should do with the rest of the day and someone suggested some body boarding. Great idea, so C & T and I got into our swimmers and headed down the lane to find an establishment that would rent out the kit. Our first stop was Baggy Lodge Surf Hire but there seemed to be no one on duty, so after trying to get some attention we headed down to the Croyde Surf school.

The surf school did not hire out kit without lessons but they kindly pointed us in the direction over the other side of the road where the caravan park shops are. We headed over and were soon kitted out with wetsuit, boots, gloves and a bodyboard each. We used the shops changing rooms to squeeze ourselves into the wetsuits, then wandered back across the road to the beach. We left Helen looking after the kit on a handy rocky outcrop and headed to the waves.

Surprisingly in a wetsuit the keeps you warm in the sea, unless you put your back into the wave then the water goes right down the neck and through the wetsuit giving you an all over chill. Being novices we took some time to figure out how to catch a wave, but after about half an hour we had figured that you needed to be not too far out, and wait for the wave that sucks you in before you launch yourself forward using the purchase you get from your feet on the sea bed.

Rather than go back to the shop we walked back to the hut to have a shower and extract ourselves from our wetsuits. Then I drove down to the shops with Helen and dropped off the gear. We had also decided to stay in and I had volunteered to cook pasta for dinner.

I had seen a recipe in the Tesco magazine for baked chick peas and J had purchased some while they were out for a walk near Appledore. You bake them with a teaspoon of olive oil and smoked paprika to which you add honey and seeds for the second part of the bake. It took a lot longer than the recipe but I think it was a combination of the oven and the fact I did double the quantity. I will try again at home, with my own trusted oven. They tasted fine with extra time in the oven.

I had a portion of the cheese cake I made earlier in the week. The middle was not divine but the edges were still split, so the fridge is not the answer. We watched the bake off then went to bed, C, T & J were going on a Lundy boat trip on Thursday the rest of us were undecided.