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Introduction

May 2014.

I've bought a campervan as a 60th birthday present to myself, made some curtains and a patchwork quilt, waved goodbye to my family, and set off. My aim is to explore the coastline of Britain, anti clockwise, starting in Kent. I have no idea what will happen.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Lovely Sandwich


Sandwich is a classy place! I took a rural route from Sittingbourne (which isn't quite so classy) on a beautiful spring day. I saw my first Oast House – just one, most are further south – acres of blossoming apple orchards and pretty villages. Littlebourne in particular with its streets lined with Jane Austen soft pink brick houses, cow parsley waving across the churchyard.
Sandwich is enchanting - it felt largely Georgian, but it's roots are Medieval -  nothing raggedy or down at heel here. I parked in a residential street of old terraced, now gentrified, cottages in the centre of town.The battery had charged so I could wash up, etc. My problem now is that I had almost no water in the tank. I thought I had filled the tank (it holds 60L) before I left home, but obviously I hadn't.. I will have to find water tonight.
River Stour at Sandwich
After wandering round the town I headed for Sandwich Bay, past The Royal Sandwich Golf Club and the Tennis Club and all the wisteria clad houses. Sandwich Bay Estate doesn't welcome riff raff, there's a toll of £7 to go in which seemed a bit steep, but I wanted to see the beach and there is a coast road to Deal.
The bay is a wonderful 180 degree stretch of pebble beach, with Ramsgate five miles to the left and Deal pier visible to the south. The wind blew hard across the sea and the sky was a cloudless blue. I talked to a father and son from Dartford, who were fishing for bass. Had he caught anything? I asked the older man. No. His son had caught three. With a spinner? The son looked a bit blank. 'We call it an egg whisk.' Much better name.
On to Deal on the coastal lane, narrow with passing places, the sea on my left and flat open grassland on the right. Small farms and a hotch potch herd of grazing cattle made me think of a Dutch painting – with one eye half shut to blot out the view of another static caravan park. Past the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club (they play a lot of golf in Kent) and I was in Deal.
Quaint and charming, Deal is more Dickensian than Jane Austen, with narrow workmanlike streets and overhanging buildings and a sense of a faded past. I parked on the seafront with the usual number of amusement arcades, bait shops and chippies but a posh looking bookshop too.
There was a mining community here until 40 years ago and Deal has a great maritime history, but now it doesn't feel so prosperous. Still the main street was busy for a Wednesday, healthfood shops, vintage clothes and teashops, with plenty of people milling about.
I drove on to Walmer, south of the town, where the Royal Marines Barracks once was. I know Dad used to go to Deal when we lived at Chatham Barracks, but there is nothing of the Barracks left now, just smart new housing. Back via Sandwich  – I left the cosiness of the town, over the River Stour, and past the stark edifice that was once a large part of Pfizer.
I 'm staying near Herne Bay and hope I can get some water.

2 comments:

Michael Thomson-Glover said...

I once asked a relation, who must remain anonymous to protect his membership, if I could play on Royal St George's Golf Club at Sandwich as we were passing. As a member of the riff raff had not packed my plus fours, damn, so he took me to the furthest hole amongst the dunes by the sea, made sure that we were unobserved (and out of earshot), and was then let loose. Normal lack of success but useful to be able to mention one's played there in certain circles.

Mickey

Michael Thomson-Glover said...

once asked a relation, who must remain anonymous to protect his membership, if I could play on Royal St George's Golf Club at Sandwich as we were passing. As a member of the riff raff had not packed my plus fours, damn, so he took me to the furthest hole amongst the dunes by the sea, made sure that we were unobserved (and out of earshot), and was then let loose. Normal lack of success but useful to be able to mention one's played there in certain circles.

Mickey