With two weeks holiday to look forward to we eased into it slowly. R and L had a welcome party for J round at his parent house. It was great to catchup with some people we had not see for quite a few years.
R was showing off his Ogle car and K was showing off his immaculately restored Land Rover convertible I thing it was number 62 off the production line. The Ogle is the only one still on the road.
Sunday as a short drive got see H&N in their countryside residence on the Essex Cambridgeshire Suffolk border. They lurcher puppy call Wilco which was as made as a bag of badgers. We went for lunch at a pub where Dick Turpin was born one of many pubs in Essex which have claims to the highwaymans heritage. After lunch we watched the start of the Grand Prix then headed further east to Southwold where we had a room booked at Sutherland House.
We could not check in to the hotel till 18:30 sort we wandered down to the pier and I took a few photo’s as the sun was low and the light was that special Suffolk light. Helen won 78 tickets on the slot machines and cashed them and gave the receipt to a young child who was on the premises.
We walked back to the car then drove to the hotel where we managed to find a parking space nearby which would mean that we did not need to move the car till 10. The room was big well furnished and has an ornately moulded ceiling. We had a table booked for 19:00 and it was a good job that we had booked a table as the restaurant was full after we had sat down for 10 minutes.
We were given complimentary amuse bouche as while we waited for our starters, smoked salmon, caper berry, and horse radish on a shaped piece of toast. Helen was given a veggie one after refusing the salmon, it was cucumber and onion marmalade I think they may have put it together in a panic, but hHelen said she enjoyed it.
The starters were crab tian for me and goats cheese pannacotta with walnut pesto for Helen both very tasty. For a main I had skate with potatoes soufflé and Helen had goat cheese (again) on potato soufflé again both were very tasty. We had eaten at lunch time so we forewent desert.
Then it was early to bed the real holiday would not really start till Monday and everyone was at work. Bring it on!
Even though rain was forecast we had booked bikes for 10:00 from The Eelsfoot at Eastbridge, which is a very nice pub to stay for the weekend. We left the house at 09:30 earlier than usual., which was good because the rain was forecast for 14:00. At the pub we picked the best bikes out and T lent us his pump to get the tyres nice and hard.
We headed off keeping to the tarmac road that leads to Minsmere RSPB then took a right at Scotts hall up a shortt slop then took the bridleway on the right which headed over to Dunwich heath. When we hit the road that leads to the Coastguard cottages we went left and headed toward the beach at Dunwich. At the cafe we had tea and coffee and T and I shared a doughnut that they make of the premises when the fryers are not doing fish and chips, which are the main fayre of the establishment. If you are ever in the area I would recommend stopping off for a lunch of fish and chips, I have been visiting the place for over 30 years.
Suitably refreshed we headed back in land then found another bridleway that eventually turns into a tarmac road called Lodge Road, which starts at a fantastic looking house over looking the marshes then over the sea.We soon found ourselves in Warberswick and met up with the rest of the party who had chosen the car for the days outing. We took a look at the harbour and the famous ferry across the river Blythe, 90p for people or bikes dogs go free. The we headed back to the center of the village where a tea room supplied us with a great lunch, I had a tuna mayonnaise baguette.
After lunch we decided on a different way back, we left Warblerswick and took a left turn along a bridleway, which eventually dumped us onto the marsh were conveniently there were board walks to make the cycling easier. Then we did a stretch of sea wall which was new and nicely paved with two layers of different gravel. We left the sea wall and headed towards some trees which formed the only high spot around then we picked up a track that lead back to Dunwich, where we went towards the beach but headed up the hill past Greyfriars abbey ruins, then tracked back the route we had followed earlier, back to Eastbridge. The last 3 or 4 miles were done in the rain pub my poncho served me well and none of us got very wet, so once again we had made the most of the weather.
C cooked her tomato risotto with veggie sausages in it, which was very nice. A game of scrabble followed.
A local walk was planned for the day, to save having to drive anywhere. We headed out down to the beach then turned left and headed towards Sizewell. Interestingly the coast is being eroded away, and they have built up the defences with wire cages full of rocks but they are on top of big sacks made of a felt material full of sand and rocks. After a bit of a slog on the beach keeping clear of the waves that washed in we joined a coastal path which for Suffolk was fairly elevated.
At Sizewell beach we found the cafe closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the public loos in a bit of a mess. We headed up the road To a pub called the Vulcan arms just opposite the entrance to the nuclear power station entrance. The pub sign included Dr Spock, the aircraft, and the Greek god of ironmongery and black smithing. We were a bit early so sat in he pub garden for 10 minutes until it opened. It was a bit early but we all had sandwiches as from the map it was clear that the was no obvious option for the lunch on the way back. I took the opportunity to do a time lapse sequence.
The route back would head in land via the RSPB land called Aldringham walks. Helen spooked a green wood pecker, and we came across a very large tit flock possibly 75 birds. We also spotted plenty of butterflies, including Monarch and Speckled wood. The route back took bought us out a the golf course, past the house in the clouds and eventually to The Dolphin pub, where we enjoyed a well earned pint.
J made his lovely Cajun stew for dinner and I made a sort of apple and blackberry strudel which was served with either ice cream or custard. Then we sat down to watch the great British bake off before going to bed.
We had a plan for the weekend we went to the cinema to see a film Friday then home for an early night. We were up pretty early giving me the chance to go and get my haircut. Suitably shorn I came back had a coffee and we left house at 1020 destination Kent for a night in a pub followed by some Segwaying at Leeds Castle.
The journey was pretty uneventful round the M25, then over the Thames, then down the M2. At around Sittingbourne I got bored of the motorway so we left it to take the A roads to Faversham, then onto Oare marshes for a spot of bird watching.
We stopped off in Faversham a town with some very old buildings, a market, antique shops and charity shops, for some lunch at a pub in an old building, I had crab and rocket sandwich and Helen had local cheese and pickle sandwich. After a walk around the town and its market we headed to Oare marshes and we were pleasantly surprised to see lots of bird watchers and even better lots of waders out on the marsh. Parking was a struggle but we found a spot and headed back to where there was a good view of the marsh. We had got there at the right time the tide was in s the birds had all left the estuary and were waiting on the marsh area till the tide went out again revealing the mud where their food could be found. We finished off with a walk around the reserve taking in the hides, Helen insisted that the sea wall was where a scene from the TV drama Southcliffe was filmed, I said that it could be anywhere on the sea wall but after some research that evening Helen proved beyond reasonable doubt that she was quite correct. We got back in the car and ignoring the sat nav’s request to take the motorway took the A roads to our pub The Black Horse in Thurnham, needs Leeds Castle.
The pub was unusual in that from the front it just looked like a country pub on the edge of a hill, but behind it had a whole complex of rooms 30 in total, spreading out down the hill behind. We got our room keys and found our room “asylum” sorry they were all named after plants Alyssum. The room was very clean, and seemed recently decorated, the bed was soft and comfortable.
We rested for a while and then went out grabbed a map from reception and headed up the hill to look at the local castle ruins, which were very ruined. Back at the pub we had a half and then headed back to our room to get ready for our meal. Helen put on some makeup and I changed my T shirt. The meal was great we were in the restaurant just before 7pm so in time for me to have the fish and chips not served after 7. Helen at risotto and we both had desert Helen sticky toffee pudding and me the apricot cheese cake. Suitably replete we headed back to our room and tucked up in bed by 9pm!
The early night meant we got an early start, breakfast was and 08:20 and we left the pub soon after 09:00, our plan was to go and have a look around Leeds castle before our Segway session at 11:30. We arrived at the venue in time so join the earlier session but unfortunately they could not get us on that session. We decided that the entry fee of £21 per person for the Castle was a little bit steep if you had a day to spend there we only had about and hour and a half to waste, so we decided to go take a look at Chatham which is only 20 minutes drive away.
At the historic docks there was a Military memorabilia fair on, and what a strange event that turned out to be. We paid £4 entrance fee and entered a whole world that we did not realise existed, it seemed anything with a vague military theme could be purchased. At the extreme was firearms from Pistols through rifles, to heavy duty machine guns, as well as daggers and bayonets. Then there were the stalls selling everything you could imagine you unearthing from an army stores, including instruments, wound dressings, medals and ribbons, manuals and log books etc etc. The die hard enthusiast came all dressed up in authentic uniforms, I saw Nazi SS, talking to home guards, Russians and French Foreign Legions, as well as a small child in full sniper gear. Unexpectedly we did find an interesting book to purchase at a book stall, war related books obviously.
Suitably confused by the memorabilia fair we drove back to Leeds Castle for a coffee before the main event. It started to really rain whilst we had our coffee but started to clear up as we gathered to be issued with helmets and Segways. After the safety lecture and what seemed like more than enough theory on how they worked we were allowed on the machines while we proved that we could control them. It was surprisingly easy to master you just lean forwards or back to move then use the handle bars to steer. Eventually we were all issued with our own machines and we left the training area for a spin around the grounds. We stopped every so often for a chance to view the Castle in the distance while the guide filled our heads with facts about the history of the Castle and it surroundings. Personally I would have paid extra just to have been able to ride the Segway without all the stopping and starting for another “interesting” fact. We did get the chance to get the Segways up to their maximum speed of 12.5 mph, but the whole experience was over too soon I could have spent a couple of hours whizzing around the park land, if they had let me.
We headed straight back after as we wanted to stop off at Decathlon at Thurrock, shopping is not something that Helen and I really enjoy but we made the most of the situation, Helen bought some gloves and I a merino wool top for Decathlon, then we raided the M&S outlet store and TKMax where I got a pair of Levis for half price. We had soon had enough bargain hunting and left Thurrock for the M25, passing under the river then round to the A41 and home for 16:00 ish.
It was not raining so only one thing to do, make the most of it and go for a walk. We picked up the inlaws and headed up to Swan Bottom, and parked up at the Swan inn, then headed out for the usual circular walk.
The weather was grey but no rain, temperature was about 10 degrees. The ground was quite soft under foot on places. The whole walk took about 2 hours and looped round towards The Lee and back.
At the pub we all had sandwiches and shared a couple of bowls of chips. There were plenty of locals at the bar one of then thought he was a comedian and decided to test out some of his jokes, ready for his performance at the local talent show. Some of them were good and he did a good Tommy Cooper impression. Turns out he was a skier, had a German mother and was born in Australia, quite some ancestry.
The food was duly washed down with a pint then we headed back home for some Raspberry Pi hacking. The plan was to get one up and running on a wireless LAN with a static IP.
As promised a restaurant review. We walked down the hill to the Cadgwith Cove Inn for something to eat. They had three real ales we had tried the otter earlier in the week so went Aunt Betties Cornish beer, next time it will have to be the Doombar.
As we passed our parked car we noticed that it was covered in bird poop, in fact so covered it looked like a gull had exploded over head.
Moving back to the restaurant review, I had the fish and chips which was very nicely cooked, and Helen and the feta and spinach pie with chips, which looked and tasted good too.
On the way back to the hut I took some pictures of the village as the sun went down.