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.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Westbere and Canterbury

The campsite at Bragg Lane south of Herne Bay is 4star -  flat, easy hook-up, trees all around and excellent washing etc facilities. A kind man from Whitby helped me put 15L in my tank with his jerry can. He and his wife spend weeks at a time at this site, and their caravan never moves from it, as their daughter lives two nearby. Lots of caravans have no cars attached so I presume the owners are out visiting or perhaps, like my friend, leave them permanently and return for holidays. I had a good hot shower before supper. This was to be my first night alone in Baa.
It wasn't a bad night.. but not great. I have been troubled with my hip (old injury, I have a large metal plate and a screw) on Baa's firm cushions. At 3am I decided to take Mum's advice – when she had 'a hip' she slept with an extra pillow between her knees. This definitely improved things, but I only had my Michael Caine cushion to hand, which felt a little strange when I woke and pulled him out from under the duvet … Next time I will have my stripey cushion to hand.
I met Dave Thorpe from The Kent Wildfowling and Conservation Association at Westbere, just 10 minutes from Braggs Lane. This 100 acre site is a real haven for wildlife after a big clearing and regeneration programme over 30 years by the KWCA. It had become very overgrown, simply by wildfowlers coming for a bit of sport and breaking off a few branches of willow to make a hide, and the willow growing into woodland. The KWA team of volunteers have dug out the ditches (see below) which had virtually disappeared, cleared areas of trees and vegetation in order to give the marshes a chance and are hoping to attract birds such as the Bittern and Marsh Buntings back in greater numbers. This is a quiet time of year when the birds are all nesting so conservation work won't start again until the summer.

It was torrenting when Dave and I walked round, so I went back later when the sun had come out to take a photograph and the noise of the birds was wonderful – I think I heard the Cetti's Warbler, but I can't be sure, and I definitely saw a Coot, Mallard and lots of geese.
Then the rain started again so I drove to Canterbury to see the Cathedral. I saw the place where poor Thomas Becket met his dreadful end and the extraordinary fan vaulted Bell Harry tower... how on earth did they achieve that 500+ years ago? or the symmetry in those amazing pillars and arches in the nave.. well, all of it. It truly is a humbling, beautiful place. I left Canterbury full of wonder, and then started to feel very unwell.

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