Saturday, 31 January 2009


This week has been something of a roller coaster, but if all goes well, then tomorrow it should all end up fine. Maybe.


A really grim day, we went out to Dover Patrol; and old art deco building right on the edge of the cliffs in St Margerets. Its now a cafe with a wood burning stove and is right nice. I had a cuppa whilst Jools had coffee, and to eat I had lemon drizzle cake whilst Julie had bacon and cheese cake. With Brie cheese. We sat and watched the rain down the wondows and the logs on the fire split with a loud crack. Not rock n roll, but it did ok for us. We then decided it being a Sunday that we should go for lunch. So we took ourselves to a small but nice country pub we know called The Old Lantern in a village called Martin. It's all olde worlde charm and blackened beams and the such, but it's very nice indeed. As is typical the pub has no sign outside, and the passing visitor would think it's just another unbearably picturesque Elizabethan house with leaded windows and a thatched roof. It is a pub, with real ale, and character. Sadly, they had run out of roast meat except pork and roast potatoes; so we made do with wholetail scampi and a pint of foaming ale for me. And that did the trick.


After dropping Jools off at work I headed to the holiday park to the gym I have joined there; and did about an hour of stuff telling myself I was enjoying myself and listening to lots of Clash on the i pod. After that I headed to Ramsgate with my cameras, as it was such a different day to Sunday; all blue skies and warm breeze.



Ramsgate could be in the med really. With it's marina and smart painted houses and street cafes! I kid you not. I got some great shots, and then picked an Italian place and had a couple of cappucinos and a pannini whilst sitting outside watching the world go by.

the postman

Ramsgate Boulevard

Mondays are always so difficult I find.

An Englishmans fish and chip shop is his castle

Tuesday was another crappy day weather-wise; so after the gym I spent the day waiting beside the phone for news of the new house and the mortgage. Nothing happened. I didn't take my cameras out with me first thing to the gym, and mist a wonderful misty sunrise as the sun peeked through the clouds and fog over South Foreland lighthouse.

I won't make that mistake again.


I decided to walk from dover to Folkestone, along the white cliffs. It's about seven miles, but as I have been going down the gym I thought I could do it. Jools dropped me off near the base of Shakespeare Cliff, which rises like a frozen tsunami south of Dover and began my climb.Below me, the dawn lit the town and gave wonderful views as the mist rolled in. Needless to say I took lots of pictures.

Western Docks at Dawn

samphire hoe

Samphire Hoe

I saw no other walkers the whole walk, and had just me and my thoughts for company. I had views of the harbour and then down to the rocks below as it was low tide. All along the coast there are the remains of defences going back to Napoleonic times; but most are from WW2; machine gun posts, artillery emplacements and huge concrete parobolas, the remains of 'ears' that could pick up the sound of aircraft. Made obsolete as soon as they were built by radar.

Accoustic Mirror

Before I reached Folkestone, the mist rolled in, and the drizzle started. Thanks to the wind and being on the edge of the cliff, the drizzle blew all was, even upwards. Lucky me. But still I enjoyed myself. I took a look at the battle of Briatin memorial, those days before America joined the war, and a few brave airman was all we had to keep Germany from our shores. There are many abandoned airfields all down the east coast of Britain, but it was over Kent the battle was fought hardest.

the lookout

In the afternoon was when the smelly stuff hot the rotary air moving device. The mortgage company found a couple of details it didn't like in our application and withdrew the offer. I won't bore you with details, but we have spent the last day and a bit on the phone to the mortgage company and our solicitor trying to sort things out.

We may have done it; we'll know for sure tomorrow. But we were so close, we could smell the new carpet we picked! Anyway, fingers crossed on that, and with a little luck, and the understanding of some very nice people who did not have to be that, we should be in our new place in two weeks or so.

*that was the week that was

Mr 1D

I go to a local camera club when I am home. It's mainly for the social aspect as wanting to compete or anything. I have entered just the one compitition since I joined 15 months ago, and that was just some small prints; I just don't have to time to mess around with printers and mounting and all that jazz.

I like to think that my pictures are OK, and that my cameras are fine enough for a hobbyist level photographer like me. I concentrate on composition and the such, and try my best to think about exposure, but do mess around with Photoshop to get the results I want. That means I crop very few of my pictures, as I have thought about what I want from a particular shot, and all the other stuff that goes through a photographer's head when he gets behind the viewfinder.

There are many types of photographer, and the one I am concerned with is always male. There's one at the club, he bought his first DSLR and it's a Canon Eos 1D, a professional camera all with L Series lenses and he talks of resolutiona and focusing accuracy and all that techno babble that his ilk love.

But when it comes to compititions, he falls flat on his face of course. Even worse when he and a friend enter shots of a shared picture taking trip and his friend gets the higher marks and Mr 1D quietly fumes.

He openly admited last year he knew little of photography, but loved what he was doing, although he understood little of the art of composition and other such things.

He sees photography as a science, where it all comes down to megapixels and resolution and being able to read a sign from oh so far away, when in truth it's an art.

I can't explain why this picture works or that doesn't or why I took a shot that way not the other; I just did because it looks right, and in the end it's what I am happy with that counts. I have been in clubs and found myself taking shots that I hated but carried on because I knew they would score high in compititions; not any more.

The club meetings take place in licenced premises, and the thought of a couple of pints of real ale and a good laugh with a couple of other like minded people keeps me going.

All the while, Mr 1D lives in our world but fails to understand most of it. Oh well

Monday, 26 January 2009

And so, on Saturday the alarm went off once again in what appeared to be the middle of the night, and we climbed out of bed ready for an exciting day. We must have been early as the cats were still asleep, even Sulu had not started his caterwauling.

Due to engineering, there were no trains from Dover, so we drove to Faversham on the north Kent coast to catch a London bound train there.A railway station at just before six in the morning is not the warmest place in the world; especially when the cafe and waiting rooms are all locked. We made do with pacig up and down and stomping our feet. The seven minutes past six train arrived on time, and soon we were slipping through the Medway towns and up into the south eastern suburbs of London.


Victoria is a big old station, with modern shops and the suchlike fitted in wherever there is room. But, we had an hour to spare before our depature, and so we set off to find a place to sit down and have breakfast. Imagine our surprise that for most places, half seven is far too early for brerakfast and the lights were still off and chairs still on tables.

The Golden Arrow / Flèche d’Or

We made do with a coffee and a panini and a flick through the new slimline Saturday Times; a thinner paper for thin times, apparently.

see that glow

The destination board had a departure for Folkestone Harbour, and the crowds seemed to be hanging around platform 2, and so we joined them. The Golden Arrow was the flagship service that ran down to the Channel ports to join ferries and carry the great and good on their merry way. The last train ferry sailed in 1994 when the Channel Tunnel opened, and the branch line down to Folkestone harbour has slowly been rotting ever since.The branch is one of the most spectacular on the British netowrk, and at 1 in 30 is one of the steepest line still in use. It winds its way though the town until it emerges at the harbour and reaches the station on the pier via a multi-arched brick jetty. Without doubt is the most beautiful line as it leaps over the fishing boats at anchor. It is no surprise then that the threat of closure is hanging over it and each special train that heads down is billed as potentially the last.

Leaving Battersea

Just a little later than billed, the train edged into Victoria, and the hundreds of passengers rushed on to find our reserved seats. The windows were misted, but that was because it was a cold morning. Or so we thought.

It turned out that the heating had failed in tow of the carriages, our being one of them. It was a frost morning, and as the staff tried to turn the heating controls off and on, with no effect, we sat there and shivered. We hoped that as the journey continued, the heating would warm through.

This did not happen, and no matter how many cups of coffee we had, we sat there cold. The rest of the train was full, and so there was no chance of us finding a warmer seat, and so as we wandered through southern London we took turns in wiping the windows, so that we might be able to see something of our route.

Folkestone Junction

Once we arrived at Folkestone, the train sat at the sidings waiting for the green light so we could descend to the harbour. I had tried to drum up interest through various groups on Flickr, so I had hoped there would be a few people to see the train arrive. As we inched our way down the branch, it became clear that we were going to be the main attraction of the day, with people climbing on roofs and taking up all possible view points as the steam engine took us down the branch. As we came out from between the final two houses and the harbour came into view, thousands of people were seen, and hundreds of shutters fired to record the event.

level crossing

Time has not served the station well, 15 years without regular service has left the staion roofless, one track removed, and moss, grass and litter everywhere. Quite what the Orient Express passengers think of the surroundings in unclear, but it's not pretty for sure.

Approaching Folkestone Harbour Station

Most of us got off to take up positions to take pictures as the pacific was going to go up the branch in full steam for our cameras. When the time came, the engine burst into life and turned the grey air black with lots of smoke and steam as it pulled the dozen or so carriages upto the main line. I took my fiar share for sure.

Tangmere takes a breather before the stiff climb to come.........

Sadly, local businesses failed to take the chance to open, and most stayed shut as maybe four thousand people milled around whilst waiting for us to depart. The one chip shop that was open had queues out of the door for over two hours.

but I'll get there

and I'll huff

and I'll huff

Once back on the train and heading back to london via the north Kent coast, the carriages were no warmer, and so we decided that we would get off at the next water stop at Canterbury and get something to eat and get warm, regardless of whether we made it back to the train in time.

and I'll huff

Our favourite Belgian resturant has a branch right near the station, and we took a table nearest the warmest radiator and tucked in to herby garlic soup followed by something just as tasty.

i'll huff,

Filled with good Belgian food and trappist beers, we decided to get a taxi the few miles to Faversham and to where our car was, as we could not face another three hours in the mobile fridge that was our carriage. That we paid for first class seats, and the other, cheaper carriages were all heated was frustrating. But being warm was worth more to us at that point than a seat as the sea whizzed by.

Even still, we had a great day, I got loads of great pictures, and we got to ride on one of the last trains down to the harbour.

Another great day.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Apart from the time I was serving in the Air Force, I have always lived by the sea; either up in Suffolk or down here in Kent. If I walk out of our front door, up the steps to the main road, and then head up away from the town and sea, I am rewarded with a view over the harbour to the English Channel and on to the coast of France. On a clear day we can see the colours of the crops in the fields there changing colour as the wheat ripens.

Dover sits in an area of Kent called the Isle of Thanet; it's called an isle because many centuries ago it was cut off from the rest of the country by rivers and marshes. From near our new home in St Margarets I can see the coast of Kent from Dover up to Ramsgate and then it turns east along to Whitstable and Margate. It seems that we are almost surrounded by water, but that is just an illusion of course.From dover to Ramsgate there are chalky cliffs for the most part, and indeed running south to Folkestone too. And even on the other side of the channel there are similar cliffs there too. Of course, Dover's cliffs are famous for being the subject of the wartime song by Vera Lynn; sadly the bluebirds are artistic licence, but when the light is right and the breeze not too strong, it is a wonderful place.

Dover is iconic; it is just not the gateway to Britian, or was before the days of Heathrow, seeing those white cliffs from across the channel meant that you would soon be home, or at least in Blighty.

And now I live here; or rather we do. As a photographer it is a delight, as there is always something going on, or something new to photograph. And so with this in mind, a couple of days ago I set out on a longish walk from the flat almost all the way to St Margarets and back again. I'm not sure how many miles it is, but it's a good way, and took about two and a half hours each way.The walk into town was its usual depressing self; Dover has suffered as many other towns have not just with the recent downturn, but in the past two decades of depression, as the prosperity that comes off the ferries passes the town right by and heads up to London via the M20 or M2. Rows of empty of down at heel shops, and the proliferation of charity shops and the re-emergance of pawnbrokers, or their modern rebranding equivilants.

Towering over the town on the end of one row of cliffs is the castle. I could write for ages about it's history and it's beauty. For nearly two millennia there has been a castle of fortification on the site. There is the only surviving Roman lighthouse, mostly still intact on th site; Henry VIII slept there, as did many kings; in Napolionic times tunnels were dug into the chalk, and these still exist, and were put to use during WW2.

Castle Street

But, for the most part, it just sits there looking just wonderful. Lesser known is a series of just impressive defences built the other side of the town, Western Heights made of tens of millions of bricks as well as tunnels into the cliffs, and this is invisiable from the sea or from France. Boney watch out!

East Cliff

East Cliff

The First and Last

From the foot of the cliff at the end of Castle Street, I walk down to the main road along where the prom used to be, before heading up a narrow lane called East Cliff; built under the shadow of the huge walk of chalk behind, a row of small terraced houses on one side, and the backs of grander villas on the other. Aslo, the site of the first pub in England for those getting off the ferry, the aptly named First and Last. But I make my way past these and along a posher row of houses to where a narow footpath begins, and begins to climb.

Athol Terrace, East Cliff, Dover

Under the A2 as it sweeps down to te harbour from the cliffs in the graceful curve of Jubilee Way, and then the climb gets hard as the path rises to get to the top of the cliff about two hundred or so feet above. The views behind open up of the harbour and further alng to Shakespeare Cliff, the unfit can pause at regular intivals to claim to be admiring the view.

Jubilee Way

The path then follows the top of the cliffs until it comes to the national Trust site, which manages the whole stretch of the coastline to St Margarets for the nation. There are a number of paths to choose from, the easy of those best suited to mountain goats. I choose an easy one after nearly sliding off down a muddy slope and thinking safety first. Down below, the ferry port and harbour carries out its work, with the occasional announcemnt over the tannoys reaching us high above on the cliffs.

Dover; the white cliffs

But, after a while, after the walker passes the easern most part of the docks, the hustle and bustle is left behind, and it all becomes calm. To one side there is the rising grass land to fields just recently ploughed, and to the right the cliffs plungs down to the sea below; all is quiet apart from the wind and a few curious seabirds. France is out of sight through a haze and gathering stormclouds, but the ferries can still be seen as they head into the rain.

Langdon Hole

Being a weekeday in winter, there are no others joining me, and I can take my time, framing shots for my collection, and just thinking how darn lucky I am. Sometimes the path has to go inland some way, as the cliffs have partially collapsed, but the granduer and scale of the place is just wonderful. The winter sun is low in the sky, but the light catches the cliffs, making them dazzelingly white, making the grass seem a richer darker colour in contrast.

Dover Clifftop

My destination is the Soth Foreland Lighthouse, a major landmark of the area, and the frst light in the world to be powered by electrickery, and where Marconi did early tests with radio. By this point I am nearly in St Margarets, and there are paths that go inland to the village, but as we have not yet moved there, my path is back, and to the First and Last where, hopefully, a pint of frothy ale will be bought and my legs refreshed.

south foreland lighthouse

Sadly, the pub is closed until early evening, and so my legs carry me to the town centre, past the dreadful Weatherspoons but on to the Prince Albert, where I join the old soaks in a pint of left over Christmas Ale and read the Times about the previous days events in Washington.

Dover Cliffs

Another fine, fine day

Thursday, 22 January 2009

In one of my Flickr groups, there was a discussion about what is the oddest seaside place in Britain. One place kept cropping up; Dungeness.

What I like about Kent is the diversity of the landscapes in the county, it ranges from chalky hills and downs; thick woods, fields of grapes, apples, hops and the suchlike, and marshy areas like Romney. And that is just in the Isle of Thannet area, which is where we live.

Dungeness sits at the edge of the Romney Marsh, on the spoild from millions of years of erosion and long shore drift from the chalk cliffs. From Hythe all the way out into the Channel past Dymchurch, Lydd and to the end of the marsh to Dungeness. Dungeness and its surrounding area is flat, stoney and for the most part, windy. A few hardy plants eek out a living in the shingle, and people live in semi-permanant wooden houses huddled near the shingle bank, beyond which is the sea.


Dungeness has built up a community af artists, as well as fishermen. Also there are two lighthouses, one Victorian and one dull and new. Oh, and there is the shadow of the nuclear power station. And the lines of pylons march westward in rows like soldiers to provide the south east with electrickery.

We love to go there when it's overcast and windy, it's never a friendly place, or thats the way it seems, and the mix of unusual houses, huge skies and white horses on the sea never fails to provide a subject for my cameras.I went up there on Tuesday, as a cargo ship had lost 1500 tonnes of wood and was due to be washed ashore, and I thought it might make a good subject for a picture or twelve. Sadly, the tides had changed and there were just fishermen lining the waters edge hoping for a bite or two.

Dungeness boardwalk

I love the drive up there; at first along the motorway beside the channel tunnel rail link with high speed Eurostars swishing past in a cloud of dust. and then turn of down a twisty road to the town of Hythe, where back in Georgian times a canal was begun to aid the resuply of numerous forts built to defend the southern coast for Napolian. As the sea was often too rough, a canal seemed the best way. Its good a walk besides these days, or rent out a small boat just for the fun of it.

Hythe is also the beginning of a miniture railway that runs over the marsh and then along the stones out to Dungeness; The Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway is about 12 miles long, and uses a quarter scale steam trains to haul the small carriages.The road follows this route, past marsh and military firing ranges, and in the shadow of massive sea walls until at Lydd the road turns out to Dungeness and across the stones and shingle, past lakes for wild fowl and the railway that collects spent fuel rods from the nuclear plant, and the endless police patrols.

Parking the car at the cafe at the miniture railway's station, thhe wind nearly rips the car door out of my hand. I wrap my coat around me, and pull the Razorback's had down over my ears, grab my cameras and set off.

A wooden boardwalk type path takes the walker to the sea over about 400 yards of shingle. With the ultra wide angle lens it makes a good subject for a picture or two.

It seems so desolate there, abandoned houses and other buildings mix with peoples homes and their attempts at having gardens, or approximations of them. I love it. The wind was strong, but the rain held off long enough for me to get a picture of the new lighthouse reflected in a pool of water. No wood, and anyway the rain that had threatened all morning arrived, and I beat a retreat to the car with just seven pictures taken. I drove back in a downpour, heavy and low clouds creating an almost twilight feel. Back home in time for lunch and a cuppa and an afternoon watching the rain run down the living room window, listening to the radio and two cats settle on my lap.

A good day.....

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Oysters in Whitstable

A bit misleading as we did not have oysters. Something about putting things which are still live down one's throat. And this is supposed to be sexy. From what I see it's looks like drinking what comes out of a cold sufferers hankie.

Best not ask.

Anyway, oysteres are not that posh, around Whitstable they just grown in the shallows and on the mud banks off the town. No cooking required, just open and eat. Or slurp.More about oysters later.......Once again the day dawned bright and clear, and as there was little else we could do around the house, we decided to go out for part of the day and do something else. As you may have realised we headed north to the fishing town of Whitsable, where we knew we could have a wander around, take some good pictures, and look round the nich nack shops for things for the new house.

Jools said she knew an 'interesting' way to Whitsable, and so map in lap and sun shades pulled down we headed off into the bright day. It is hard to describe the east Kent countryside. Rolling hills and downs, ploughed fields, many woods and old farmhouses at frequent intervals. Roads generally don't go straight and so twist and turn and dips and rises, each mile showing something different.Something different is a wood without trees. Something that culd probably only happen in Britain. Seems like a bright idea was the celebrate the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, and the trees used to build thewarships, lets plant a wood with all those trees in it. There's a wonderful wooden sculpture near the car park, very informative visitrs information, spendid views down to Whitstable and across to the Swale estuary. But, here's the rub, there's no trees.

Not one.

There are plans for some. Many, in fact. The artists impressions look indeed impressive, but for now there is rolling hills, and broad woodland walks all laid out through what are for the moment, fields of grass.I am sure that Victory Wood will be wonderful, I cannot think it is for the moment, mis-named.


Whitstable is a wonderful small fishing port, and to buck the trend they still catch fish there. Heck, there's even small fishing boats in the harbour, nets are spread around the harbour left out to dry, and you can even buy fresh fish. Fish that you need to skin and make its own sauce for, and comes without bag to boild said fish in.There are old wooden buildings around the harbour; and in the buildings are craft shops; all in all it is very wonderful. There's even a French guy selling smelly cheese and fresh Gallic bread to temp the unwary with its wonderful smells and flavours.

walking the dogs

The town itself is a mix of fishmermen's cottages and traditional shops and craft and antique places. And then there are places to eat. A wide mix of seafood places, or cafes named after local herbs selling traditional fry-ups made with local ingrediants. There's a second hand record shop to go round and flick through the racks; a wonderful wine shop with vitage champagnes and aged malts to open the wallet.Shame then that chains Iceland and Tescos are to try to open places here. As much as I like the thought of these chains, being able to go from butcher to wet fish shop to fruit and veg shop all in a 5 minute walk for the convienience of doing it in Tescos and damed those shopowners who go out of buisness.


Anyway, Whitstable is a stunning place for a walk, some shopping or a bite to eat; and we went into the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company for a late breakfast. It's a wonderful place for a resturant; in an old boat shed, all most curse are fresh seafood. Jools had a full English, or fry-up complete with free range sausages, but I think they may have been pigs at some stage; scrambled eggs; smoked bacon; fresh mushrooms and black pudding. I had Polish scrambled eggs with spring onions and smoked salmon. Needless to say the food was wonderful, the view over the bay, stunning. We had more fresh coffee to feel even better about ourselves.


We drove back slowly along the main road back to Dover; the traffic for the port and Channel Tunnel whizzed past us as Jools snoozed.

Once back home we had Creme Brulee coffee to go with the fluffy French cakes that we had bought just before leaving Whitstable; and it was indeed, very good.

Steelers: half three in the morning, still tired, but happy. Nuff said.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Saturday Special

Hi there.

It's Saturday night and things are moving. Slowly, but there is movement. Our solicitor has sent us a letter; we don't quite understand it, or where we have to initial it, but where we have to sign is clear enough. It says do we understand just how much money we are going to owe the banks if we go through with the purchase of the house?

Yeah, we know it.Other than that, we have packed some more stuff; it's a good job the cats move around some or they would be packed as well.

Thursday night we went to a Mexican place in Canterbury. I say Mexican place; they served Mexican food. I say served Mexican food, I have a feeling they cooked it on the premises. But it was spicy and Mexican-y. And the Margherita things had lots of Tequilla in them, and my clothes did not fall off; for a change.

And then we went to the University, 'cos that's where the best cinema is. I say best cinema, it's the one that doesn't show nothing but sex 'comedies' or comic book adaptions. So we went to the University of Canterbury; it's in Canterbury; it's a good place to have it, as owing to what's it's called.

Noel Coward's House

I say that, but Leeds castle is nearby, and it's like nowhere near leeds, which is way in the north, like 50 years ago. I have been to leeds, and it's fine; they have a Harvey Nicks, so it's very nice for shopping. Fabulous one might say; absolutely fabulous.

Anyway, so we went to the university to see this film. It had Angelina Jolie and her lips in it. In fact The Changeling was very good indeed, and we both enjoyed it very much. No one had super powers of waited until they were forty to get laid, whatever was Clint thinking when he made it?

When it finished, we drove home, and coming out of the car park and down to the campus exit, we looked to the left and down below us was all of Canterbury all lit up, and the Cathedral in the middle looking all stunning lit up. And this is where we live. Or close by.

The Warren

Friday I had to go and answer medical questions for an insurance thing for the mortgage. All was going well until I was asked if I had worked outside Europe or North America in the last 5 years.




It's not on the list!

Are you planning to work outside those same places in the next 5 years?



Could be anywhere.Lets just say no to make it easier.

And so today; I went to the gym first thing only to find one of the guys must have failed to wake up in time and the place was closed and the door locked. So, I shrugged my shoulders and we went to Tescos instead as I thought a little unarmed combat would do instead!

Then we went along the coast between Dover and Folkestone and stood on the cliffs whilst we were battered by gale force winds and the salt air filled our noses.That was good.And then we went to our new home, or the village and went down the twisty narrow lane down onto the beach at St Margarets at Cliffe and stood on the shingle beach as the waves crashed just in front of us. The ferries busied themselves with crossing the channel in front of us; so we bought cuppas and Kit Kats and sat in out car and thought how darned lucky we are.

St Margarets at Cliffe

This afternoon I lay on the sofa whist Julie tidied the garden; I have no excuses. The cats and I listened to the football and then I cooked dinner; rib eyes with field mushrooms and with a bottle of red and the chardonay for Jools. We watched the sun go down, the sky turn red and then the stars come out. And marvelled at our lives and how it would be getting even better soon.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Wednesday Waiting

We began this week all excited and hoping that things would move forward very quickly.Apparently, legal wheels move more slowly than we thought, and it is already Wednesday and still we have not heard anything new. For our part, we have been doing some more packing and I guess we're not down to just the clothes we're wearing, but at imes it feels like it. And of course now that all CDs, vinyl and DVDs have been packed, of course it is one of those things I want to listen or watch now.

Yesterday I went up to Tescos, and being a Tuesday morning, and quite early, it was packed to bursting. Heck there was even a mad scramble for the last trolly/cart. I won out, but it seems that the narrowest of aisles is considered the best place for a meeting and compitition is stiff to see who can place the trolly in the most awkward angle as to almost leave the way clear for other shoppers.

But not quite.

Anyway, a single man shopping Tescos means rubbing shoulders with old ladies with 573 tins of cat food, and students with a months supply of Pot Noodles. I felt right out of place with a selection of fresh fruit and some spices needed for a nice looking recipe seen in one of the Sunday suppliments.The rest of the day was taken up with some more waiting by the telephone, and some occasional TV watching and avoiding letting the cats get too comfortable. They're still trying to work out how to get all three cats on one lap at the same time. It don't work yet, but they're working on it.

Dover Patrol

It was a glorious sunny morning today, and so I thought I would set off for some early morning photographs from the white cliffs. In the time it took for me to get from where Jools works to the cliffs, a thick blanket of fog fell, and there was nothing vsiable other than shades of gray and the muffled sounds of the harbour below. Just enough time to wander around the national Trust shop to see if there is anything worth buying in the post-Christmas sale, but remembered that I should be trying to eat less of the stuff I was looking for.

Dover Patrol

So, now I'm back home, and the sun broke through the fog and it's all glorious and sunny out there.

The View from the National Trust Car Park; White Cliffs, Dover

I should go out, but I think me and the cats to see how many of us can get on the same spot on the sofa at the time.

Monday, 12 January 2009

West to Eastbourne

And so after a day spent packing and multiple return trips to the storage place, we decided to have a day off yesterday and head out on a train way out west to East Sussex and the seaside resort of Eastbourne.

Eastbourne Pier

I guess the British seaside is something unique and I could write for hours, maybe, in describing what makes a seaside resort and as to why it has been in decline for the past 30 or so years.
The answer to the last point is easy, cheap holidays in Spain and the suchlike where glorious weather is just about guaranteed. Some resorts have lasted better than othersa; whilst some are grim and a haven for drugs, vice of the stag weekend, those on the south coast, an hours or so train ride from the heart of London have done much better.

Eastbourne Pier

And so to Eastbourne; situated on a low sandy and stoney part of the coast, between two long and high lengths of chalk cliffs; the one to the west being the world famous Beachy Head, Eastbourne occupies a sweeping bay with shallow stoey beack and a grand Georgian and Victorian promenade overlooking the beach. It has lost some of it's past glories, but not much; buildings are well maintained and most have had a recent lick of paint. But look closer and you'll see the high street has mainly charity shops and the pier is in a pretty poor state.

Eastbourne Pier

The British pier is one of the wonders of the seaside; most built during Victorian times to allow people to parade in their Sunday best, or promenade, a stucture bult on cast iron frames with a wide wooden walkway heading out onto the sea with cafes and amusements to entertain the throng.

Eastbourne Bandstand

So, after breakfast we headed out in our little Polo and up the M20 to Ashford to the new International Station to pick up the train along the coast to Sussex. We can catch Eurostars here as well, and from Ashford Paris is just an hour and fifty minutes away! As you can imagine a spring vacation is being planned.

There was enough time to grab a coffee on the platform, not the usual burnt to a horrible taste of times past, but flavoursome continantal cups with flavoured syrups and chocolate and marshmellow options; maybe Starbucks did bring some good after all?

Anyway, just after 10:15 we boarded our two coach train and soon we were heading out over the Kentish countryside out west and onto the Romney marsh and to Rye. The white cliffs around Dover creat spoil by long-shore drift which has created a wide marshy area at the western coastal area of Kent called the Romney marsh. A haven for wildlife, it is great to travel across by train keeping an eye out for wintering birds and lost photographic oportunities.
Rye is built on a chalky outcrop over looking the marshes, and we stop here to collect some more passengers. Then it is off through Hastings, St Leonards-On-Sea, Bexill before arriving at Eastbourne.


A short walk along the High Street, brought us out in the bright winters sunlight on the prom and the sight of the stoney beach and magnificent Victorian pier stretching out into the English Channel.

Eastbourne prom

We head to the pier, with me snapping away all the time; it was bright and sunny, but a keen wind had got up, casing the sea to stir into what I described as not survey weather.

Health and Safety Gone mad

The pier was pleasant enough, but look closely and the paint is peeling and the supports are rusting badly. Best not think too much about it. A brisk walk to the end of the pier shows most places of entertainment are closed, but that meant no people and good photographs!

Time for lunch, and a Belgian Cafe was spotted, and as well as the more usual beers sold, they had a selection of rich dark Trappist made beers; all smokey flavoured and very, very strong. Julie had risotto and I had a salad, both followed by Creme Brulee.

The Chatsworth

With our heads spinning we wandered back to the station to catch a train back east, and then on to home.
Eastbourne Station