Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Wednesday 30th March 2011

So, Wednesday.

At least we’re over half past week and should be downhill from now on. The day is dull and wet, the rain is steadily falling and is expected to get harder as the day wears on to night. This comes after some fine, if hazy days. It has been really wonderful to head to work with mist laying along the rivers and streams, and the sun to rise like a blood orange over the horizon. And then in the afternoon, blue skies and light traffic to accompany my evening commute. Not bad.

The Stars of Spring

After weeks of saying that when the clocks go forward we can go for walks in the evenings and actually get some exercise, we, I bailed on Monday, but last night we did venture out for about 40 minutes, to the end of our road and then along the path to the farm and copse of trees about half a mile away. Needless to say I took my cameras and snapped some spring colour in the hedgerows, and the piglets in the trees. We are told that last years brood make fine sausages and chops; the current ones look so sweet and inquisitive as we looked over the fence at them.

Pink Spring

We ended up at a field with four horses in; the path kinda petered out and so we turned round as we both had plans for the rest of the evening. Jools was meeting friends from work at the Blue Lantern in Martin Mill and I decided to ask my good friend gary if he fancied coming for a meal down at the Coastguard Inn down in the bay; he said yes.

And so Jools dropped me off, and after shaking hands Gary and I took a few shots of the evening before heading into the pub; we had a beer and then ordered fresh cod and chips. As ever it was great, but huge, and my plans to sample the cheeseboard failed as I could not eat another thing. So, we headed back to the house for a cuppa and to watch England play on TV. Not a bad day after all.


Today sees the end of another part of the project at work, as more folks leave for pastures new. Although we knew these days come along, its never a pleasant thing to say goodbye to friends, doubly so as unemployment faces them. We shall see, maybe other, better doors will open for them. And on Friday, a big crane is coming to take away the pert-a-cabin offices, the home to the project for so long, and that will be it. Just the turbines producing lots of green electricity as they should.

And for the weekend there is a visit to Mother’s to look forward to; it is Mother’s Day. But tempered with that I have managed to get a ticket for the Norwich game and so rough with the smooth; I just need for City to win and it will be a great weekend. Looking beyond the weekend, I am heading to Holland for a couple of days next week as I get the chance to bore people to death with my own Powerpoint presentations; the week after I do the same at our head offices in Warrington and then fly out to Denmark for a third presentation. And right after that is Easter, two days back at work and then a five day trip to Germany on the banks of the Mosel.

Life is exciting all over again.

Evening at St Margaret's Bay

Monday, 28 March 2011

Monday 28th March 2011

Monday again.


And back to work. Deal with mails, swap news and then BT turn off the power to our servers. And the interweb stops.

Don't worry, we'll get a generator to power the servers.

And then they try to find someone authorised to connect said generator to said servers to power our interwebs.

It'll only take half an hour we were told. Three hours later, I gave up and came home. I can use the VPN client to get into our netwrk from home, once I configure the wi-fi and then fight the cats from asking, not very politely if i might consider in feeding them three hours early, or maybe i can see my way to tickle their chin.

But, I did get work done, and having took a few steps forward on Friday, I took several hundred in the opposite direction today. Such is life.

The Guard Cat

And so then, to the weekend. And Mother Nature let us down with the weather, and the wall-to-wall sunshine that was forecasted at least for Sunday did not happen, and the sunny intervals on Saturday tunred into wall-to-wall dullness and grey.

So, Saturday morning we headed to folkestone for some shopping; the petfood store and then a garden centre. Feeding wild birds is not a cheap task now, oh no. Doubly so now the cats have a liking for peanuts as a way of topping up their diet. And then onto the garden centre; as we are people of a certain age, this was the first of three garden centres we ended up going over the weekend.

we bought two shrubs, and in an unusual move I helped plant them upon our return home. We had called in to see Jools' father, and invited him and Nan for Sunday dinner; we had already bought a fine leg of spring lamb for the occasion.

Another busy corner of St Margaret's.

And then it was time to settle down for some international football as England took on Wales in the European Championship. It had promised to be a tough game, but in the end England did not need to get out of second gear and so ran out easy, easy winners.

And Sunday, Jools went with a friend to a craft fair; the weather was too dull for my planned photography trip to a nearby church also fell by the wayside, and so I stayed in, did some chores, baked some bread and waited on the four demanding cats.

How did I used to miss stuff like this?

At least the weather did get out in the afternoon, and we went for a walk to a nearby garden centre; we bought some find spring plants and then walked home so I could put the meat in the oven.
Thankfully, the meat was just wonderful, and I did a good job with the veg, roast spuds and Yorkshire Pudding. Just perfect, really.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Saturday 26th March 2011

Just to clarify, the cat, Mulder, is fine. He is his normal, bouncy self and as full of energy and demanding for affection as he ever was. we think he fell, hence the hip problem and the title of my last post.

So, another working week goes by and the weekend come round. But, before we get to the weekend, we must get through Friday.

But this Friday it was a different kind of day to normal.

The Thanet Offshore Windfarm

The planning to build a windfarm the size of Thanet takes time, logistics, design and al the other stuff. Even once it is built, it takes time to get each turbine working as it should. Even though the last turbine was put up at the end of June, we have only just completed outstanding work; not much stuff of any importance, but everything was required. And all in all, it was done pretty smoothly.

The Thanet Offshore Windfarm

As a means of thanking us, those who either did the work or organised the work, our employer arranged us to go out on a boat, have a buffet, and take our partners with us. And for us that day was yesterday. And as if by luck, the weather was perfect; not a breath of wind and glorious sunshine.

We drove to Ramsgate at nine after I had checked my work mails from home; then we all met up for a briefing, donned out life jackets and headed down to the quay. We climbed on, tucked into the food, and the captain opened the throttles and we headed out of the harbour onto the open sea.

The Thanet Offshore Windfarm

The boat was smoother than I thought it would be, nothing better than to stand at the back of the boat, looking at the coastline fade into the distance, whilst in front the turbines loomed out of the mist.

The boat slowed down and we cruised round the park, we all snapped away at the sights and marvelled at what had been achieved. And then it was time for the trip to end, and the captain turned to boat to land and opened up the throttle once again, and we were skipping over the calm waters again.

Thanet windfarm

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Thursday 24th March 2011

Or cats don't bounce.


We have four cats, each with its own personality and eccentricities. And we have gotten used to their ways and odd habits. and so when one of them does not abide to what we think as 'normal' for them, we worry.

Little Girl, as the oldest and most precious has the oddest ways; like running away when you try to give her food, only having one meow for everything. (other cats do vary their meows; this does not make me a freak thinking this, right?) She is easily spooked, likes to be brushed. we now know she has an over-active thyroid, and is now on drugs. Some might say, not before time.

Molly is my cat from before I met Jools; and at one time was loving and an indoor cat; but now is little miss independent and a one kitty vermin eradicating machine. From time to time, she does let us stroke her, or even pick her up. And, now I know she wouldn't like me to say this, may even enjoy a bit of affection, and does even purr, even when picked up like a baby.

That leaves us with the kitten twins; Mulder and Scully. Both are hyper and like to play rough and tumble with each other, are always hungry as they is growing kitties.

Which brings us to Tuesday, when Mulder was not his bouncy self, but was not hungry and did not get out the basket. We had to go to work, and in the evening he was not better and seemed to be carrying a slight limp. Yesterday morning, he could put no weight on it, and so we booked him in at the vets.

Half an hour, an x-ray and a shot later we were £80 lighter, his dislocated hip was back in place and he was coming round after his local.

Drunk looking cat!

And then we had to try to keep drunk looking cat under control until the drugs wore off, stop him from rough and tumbling and stop him from eating for a few hours.


fail and fail.

We did keep him in overnight, in our room for a while, but his plaintive yowls meant we had to put him in the kitchen.

Good news is that he is still OK this evening, and does not need another shot.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Tuesday 22nd March 2011

Friday morning, all was going well; I had my weekly meeting with my boss; targets were agreed and wishes for a fine weekend were swapped. And then my tooth began to hurt. I mean HURT, no pre-amble just straight in with this is hurting to buggery pain that more than distracted me from work. I managed to get an appointment at the dentist, and tried to ignore the pain and get on with work.
I kinda gave up and headed off to the dentist at half two, made sure I found somewhere to park and sat in the waiting room feeling all sorry for myself. X-rays were taken, and I did some more waiting. Yes, there’s something wrong, a lose filling, but we can’t do it now, you have to get the infection under control; take some anti-biotics and come back Monday.

And that was that. Off to Tesco to get my prescription and then home for some feeling sorry for myself and maybe some TLC from Jools. Lots of TLC as it turned out. The weather was like I felt, pouring with rain and grim! I took tablets and some painkillers and waited for the pain to stop.

As we went to bed, the rain was easing, but the forecast of relentless sunshine for Saturday still seemed optimistic to say the least. However, the day dawned bright and clear with the sun rising in a blue sky, there was a golden light on the land. To make the best of the day, we decided to walk along the cost to Walmer, have a wander round the gardens there, and walk back. And in a nutshell, that’s what we did. Although there was clear blue sky at home, and we live about a mile from the coast, by the time we reached Dover Patrol there was mist all around and the blue sky occasionally great. But, a breeze was blowing the mist away, and the warmth of the sun could be felt.

Needless to say, France was totally obscured from view by the mist, but we could see north and south along the coast, down the cliffs to the sea and beaches below. Twitches we huddled together, straining to identify a large raptor above, and a few folks were out either walking their dogs or just enjoying the day. There really is nothing quite like walking to the edge of the cliff and peering down to the beach below. The white of the cliffs and the blue of the sea and sky look wonderful in bright sunshine. Seagulls swooped near to us, just curious if we had any food for them.

Bluebirds and the Dover Patrol monument

We strode off north towards Kingsdown where the cliffs peter out and the stony beach begins. Each person we passed smiled and passed a few words of greetings, it was rather nice to be sure. We could hear the sound of clubs on balls as golfers were out too enjoying the weather, but we are hidden from them by bushes and small trees; best not a the gaze of the un-golfly fall upon their morning work.

At last we reached Kingsdown, made our way down the path to the beach and onwards towards Walmer. Here, the path was busier, and people came out of their holiday homes to take in the day, joggers passed, some in more advance states of exhaustion than others. We walked on.

Helleborus orientalis – Lenten rose.

Walmer Castle sits about 100 yards from the sea, it was once a Napoleonic fort, but was transformed into a residence for the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, amongst whose number have included The Duke of Wellington, Winston Churchill and The Queen Mother. But we had been inside the castle before, and this time it was the garden that was our target. But before then there was just time to head into the café for tea and scones, with jam and cream of course. And so it came to pass, the day was fine.


Once we had eaten our fill, we headed out into the gardens to hopefully see a sea of daffodils; but, although the daffs are out elsewhere, in Walmer they are maybe a week behind, and so there just a few to see. But there some early flowers out, and I snapped them. I also snapped plants in the greenhouses which looked very fine and in some cases, alien. And then it was time to head back home.


The day was now warm, we took off our coats and headed off along the beach to the foot of the cliffs, and then up the steps and along by the golf course again. The mist had cleared and right in front of us, the sun shone out from a clear blue sky making us shade our eyes as it reflected off the sea.

Once home we had lunch, cheese on toast and beans; a quality meal. And then time to settle down to listen to the football on the radio and to review my shots from the walk.

And in the evening we headed back down to the cliffs to see the 'supermoon' rise to the north of Calais and for me to snap it.

Supermoon rise 19th March 2011

Sunday also promised to be sunny, but the day began with high cloud and just milky sunlight coming through. We had arranged to meet up with our good friend, Bob, as we were heading towards Tenterden to the Kent and East Sussex Railway, as they we opening a short extension. As we headed north and then west, the day did indeed get brighter. And by the time we reached the station the sun was out. We bought our tickets and then waited for the train to depart.

K&ESR; Junction Road weekend 20th March 2011

Preserved railways can only travel at 25mph, and so once the whistle blew and the signal gave our drive the road, we trundled and rattled along the Rother Valley. There are no spectacular bridges, no tunnels, but just pleasant English countryside, marshes and fields filled with expecting sheep. In time Bodiham Castle came into view; this is where the line used to end, but now it continues a mile or so longer to Junction Road, a few miles short of joining the mainline, and now their goal. But for now the line ends where the level crossing used to be, and after a pause we headed back.

K&ESR; Junction Road weekend 20th March 2011

Once back in Tenterden we sought out a place to eat and found the Vine Inn; they had tables and beer and roasts on the menu; it was all we wanted. The meals came quick, and we tucked in to either beef, lamb or pork with vegetables and the such. Jools and Bob had something sweet for dessert, whilst I had the cheeseboard and another pint.

The Vine Inn, Tenterden

When we walked out of the pub, the town was full of people, all out enjoying the spring weather. We headed back to the car and then back home, first dropping bob off back home and then heading up to St Margaret’s and time enough for a cup of coffee and to chill.

And like that another weekend passes in the blinking of an eye, and time enough for Professor Brian Cox to lecture us on the wonders of the universe and our eyelids to grow heavy and drop.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Thursday 17th March 2011

Before Sunday had dawned, I knew there was something wrong. I woke up in the half-light caused by the streetlights coming through the curtains, my stomach doing back-flips and I had that feeling that I would soon need to make a visit to the facilities.
Ando so by the time the day dawned, I was not well at all. I had not slept in hours and all I really wanted to do was to head home. The plan had been to go along the promenade snapping some fine wrought-iron features, and then visit a village just off the main road on the main road where half my ancestors came from. The weather had other ideas about that too; it was grey, misty and drizzling, and after packing the car and heading along the promenade, the thought of visiting Warninglid, its real name, went out the window, and I made the decision to head back home.

The traffic was so light we were back in Kent by a quarter to nine, and in time to collect the cats before ten. Once loaded in the car the four of them sung to us as we drove along, I am sure they were just letting us know how pleased they were to see us.

Once back home, I went to bed, but the attention of the various cats meant I did not sleep. I did get up for a drink and to look at the shots I had taken, but went back to bed soon after and slept the afternoon away.

Monday morning came, and although the effects had stopped, I had not eaten for 36 hours and so did not feel up to much; I called my boss to inform him I would not be in work that day, and went back to bed where I did doze and was visited by various cats again just to keep me company and to let me know they had forgiven us for the stay in the cattery, I think anyway.

So, Monday night I did cook and ate steak and ale pie, which tasted like ambrosia I have to say, although the beer I had thought was a good idea, wasn’t, and most went down the sink. And then I sat down to watch Norwich on the TV and we battle to get promoted to the Premiership. We played well and scored twice in the last three minutes to win 3-1 and so end the day in 2nd place, with just nine games to go. It is all going to get very nervous from this point on.

And so, on Tuesday, back to work, and the usual stuff going on. Writing procedures, instructions and the such, and it really is not too bad at all. Each night there is Champion’s League football on TV, and so I settle down with a cat to watch the game and listen to the radio at the same time. Multi-tasking!

And the other news this week has been from Japan; earthquake, tsunami and now quadruple nuclear plant meltdowns! If you were to see this in a film you’d think it impossible, but it really happened. Film of the tsunami has emerged, with each shot the power and horror becoming ever more clear. In some places the wave was 10m high, and three story buildings were swamped. The death toll is still unclear, and now, 6 days later, teams are battling to prevent four of the reactors from over-heating and releasing huge amounts of radiation into the atmosphere. I wish it were fiction.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Sunday 13th March 2011

Dateline: St Margaret's-at-Cliffe, Dover.

The main news, only real news is the earthquake and resulting disaster unfolding in Japan. News of the quake broke as I was driving to work on Friday, and inbetween work i watched the videos coming in on the BBC website, stunned as the tsunami rolled in and over the land, flattening houses and picking up trucks like toys, smashing boats against bridges. As I write this, four nuclear power plants are suffering various problems with their cooling systems which may or may have not resulted in meltdowns. This is scary stuff indeed, doubly so after an earthquake of 8.9 and a tsunami up to 10m high.

The Accused

In our world, life has gone on; we have gone to work, come home, cooked, cleaned and done it all over again the next day. And as each week before it, this week has marched on towards the weekend. Each day is filled with small victories and the such, and in general we feel we are on the crest of a wave; a small wave maybe, but a wave nonetheless.

And come Friday afternoon, it was all systems go for a weekend away! Yes, a weekend where we did not spend at home, we got in the car and hit the road, Jack and did not come home until Sunday.

The reason for this was a concert, a gig to use the rock and roll parlance, which we use all the time, of course. One of our favourite bands of the 1980s has reformed, and we were going to see Blancmange on their first tour for 26 years.

We left work at three, and headed home to throw a few things in an overnight bag, round up the cats and take them to the cattery on the way to Brighton; easy, right? You would think so, but it seems cats can pick up on the unusual, and so Molly did a disappearing act, and we had to wait until she decided to come in for dinner. we let her eat, and as she licked her lips we pounced, in the basket she went and then she and her half brother and sisters we loaded in the car and we set off.

Another payload of freedom is delivered

And then we went back home to forget my cameras. Always a good idea to take your cameras when going away to take photographs.......

We headed up the M20 into the dusk and the Friday night traffic. It really wasn't so bad, and soon we had passed Gatwick and we heading up over the south Downs and then down into Brighton. Our directions fro the AA were a little off, but we found our way onto the coast road and then along into Hove, and there was the hotel. We parked up, checked in and went looking for a place to eat.

Just round the corner we found a place called The Ginger Pig, we went in, they had a table and some interesting choices. I had Jerusalem Artichoke soup followed by grilled African cheese with fancy mash potatoes and stuffed nan breads, and it was all very wonderful indeed. The restaurant was friendly and informal, and there was a loud buzz of conversation from the customers as well as the waiting staff as they explained the menu to the confused, like me.

Brighton Bandstand

So, we went back to the hotel, showered and hit the sack; being away from the city centre and the bars and clubs, it was all very quiet and we slept well.

We were up with the larks, and seagulls the next morning, and out walking by a quarter to seven, in time to see the sun peep over the tall hotels and Regency houses along the promenade. I snapped away as we walked, and all very wonderful it was, and soon our thoughts turned to breakfast. After photographing a fine bandstand, we headed towards the city centre in the hope of getting coffee and a bite to eat, and so we ended up in a coffee chain place and ordered Americanos and paninis.

And then we headed to The Lanes, a network of criss-crossing streets full of great shops and cafes. I took the chance inbetween photo-ops to grab a hair cut, and the barber said we should go to St Bartholomew's church just down the road. I met back with Jools and after more coffee we headed to what turned out to be the tallest parish church in England and probably Europe.

St Bartholomew's Brighton

The church towered over the houses nearby, and after walking through the door we were confronted with a wonderful view of a multi-coloured brick built church, towering high above us, all filled with arts-and crafts period artwork; altars, stations of the cross and so on. we were made to feel welcome as we took in it's splendour.

Next, we headed back towards the city centre, and Brighton's gem; The Royal Pavilion. Built at the end of the 18th century for William IV, it is an incredible building, but in an Indian style, with towers and onion-shaped domes. it is filled with wonderful art and decoration, on which no expense was spared. Although it was wonderful, truly wonderful, I could not help but think of the huge expense this cost, at a time when the ordinary person was living in a hovel. And people wonder why I'm a republican!

The Royal Pavilion, Brighton

And to compound matters, all photography was banned inside, so I can only let you guess at the magnificence of the music room and the King's chambers. It was glorious without doubt.

We walked round the pavilion and back to the promenade, the sun was still shining, but from a misty sky. We stopped and had a huge ice cream and watched people pass by as we licked our way through the creamy goodness. amongst the families enjoying the warm day on the beach, were young people with cans of special brew getting wasted under the pier, barely unable to stand when nature called and a trip to the bathroom was needed.

After walking along the pier, we turned and headed back towards to hotel so we could shower and have a rest. The walk took about an hour, which was fine, but the sun was now hidden and the day had turned cooler. It was with some relief when we arrived back and were able to take off our shoes, boil the kettle and lay down with a nice cuppa and chill for a while.

Come dark, we got in the car and drove back into Brighton to find the venue and collect our tickets. And then find somewhere to eat. Away from the promenade was a busy street with a fine choice and in the end it was Thai that won out and we ordered a set menu and a beer, whilst outside the heaven opened and people scampered about trying to stay dry.

And then it was showtime: we walked back down to the prom to the venue for the gig.

The return of Blancmange

And it was great, just like being in the 1980s, with songs we knew and loved mixed with a few new tracks. Heck, we even danced, kinda, and waved our hands in the air, and clapped and cheered.

And it was over and time to head back to the hotel for a nightcap and then to bed.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Saturday 5th March 2011

Another week over, and the weekend arrives and all you want to do is head to bed at eight o'clock with a cup of Horlicks. Yes, I am middle age, and our rock and roll years are behind us. It's not that i have a physically demanding job, I drive a desk five days a week, write mails and new procedures and other such tasks. And yet at the end of the week I am pooped.


But, as the weeks go by, dawn gets earlier and sunset gets later, and I am now home when it is still light and our evenings will soon begin with a walk round the countryside which begins at the end of our street.

The big news was that a sperm whale was washed up on Pegwell Bay, just a mile from my office. A sperm whale! Turns out it was starving and very weak, and sadly died before it could be helped out to sea. And so soon crowds of people began to arrive to look at the carcass. Even after the police warned people that it posed a health risk, still they came, bringing their children. It is now being removed, before it really begins to hum.

Having a whale of a time

So, the evening it washed up, I stopped to snap it and the crowd gathering, before heading back home.

Other than that, work seems to be going well, and the weeks pass. There is talk of travel to foreign lands in the near future, but there has been talk of that before only for it to fall through for various reasons; we shall see.

And so, the weekend began at four, and after the usual whizz around Tesco, it was back home, unpack the car and let the relaxing begin! I did stop off at the nursery to look for a quince tree. We tried growing one from a juvenile cutting last year, which was not a success; and so I thought, think bigger, so somehow I got this tive foot tree in our little Polo and back home.


And this evening we planted it in the garden, digging a deep hole and filling it with compost and tree. So, now we hope it takes and we will have a fine crop of quince so we can make jelly come October.

Before that, I had arranged a flickreet at Dover castle, and many of my online friends from the local area said they were going to come along. And indeed they did.

Dover Castle is a fine place, high on the cliffs above the town with splendid vews along the coast and over the Channel to France (on a clear day), as well as 2,000 years of history on the site; it does have a Roman Lighthouse, Pharos, still standing three stories high, with two more stories of Tudor re-build on top of that. And it still stands!

The Shot

So, we met up on a cold and breezy day, we walked around the site, snapping away and talking amongst ourselves. It is wonderful to share these places with other keen photographers, and see their delight at what gives me pleasure in snapping. And then it was time for us all to part, I came home and had a bite for lunch and settled down to review the shots i had taken and listen to the football on the radio.

A god day, well, apart from the Norwich result. can't have every thing, can we?


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Tuesday 1st March 2011

And so the weekend endeth and the working weekend begins.


And so the weekend began with the usual rumble in the aisles of Tesco before we could really, really relax and enjoy the weekend. I have to be honest that I could not put up with the gangs of un-controlled children gathering in groups, or unhappy toddlers throwing tantrums as they couldn’t get what they wanted, so I looked in the trolley and decided that was it, and so forgot flour, bread, meat for sandwiches, but we do have the world’s supply of carrots as the only size available would have kept a herd of donkey happy for a year; so I should be looking for carrot recipes this week I guess.

And it being the last Friday or the month, meant just one thing; pub quiz. Our hearts sink at the thought. It’s not its unpleasant, the quiz is lighthearted and should be fun; but as we are on my father-in-law’s team, we are the youngest people on the team, most of the others have hearing problems and don’t have a comprehensive knowledge on films, music, etc. So, we have to repeat everything several times, pass answer sheets round so they can discuss what we have written. That when Jools and I do not go they finish in the bottom one, and when we do go we finish in the top half, and last month even managed to win.

South Foreland Light

So, at eight the pain began, and it was every bit as horrible as we thought. But, we struggled on, and did reasonably well, although we did finish outside the top three and so not win any prizes. We went home saying to each other, we ARE not going next month. It may take three months before we get the enthusiasm to go again.

And on Saturday the heavens did open and the rain poureth down all day. I went into town to collect my new glasses (that was the highlight) and then Jools had to go into Folkestone for a class, and so I sat at home to watch Dirty Leeds get hammered by Swansea and then sit hunched over the computer as Norwich played and revel in another victory as we cement our place in the play-offs.

Climb every mountaiiiin

The promise for Sunday was of sunshine and cloudless skies, if so I was planning to walk to Folkestone with Jools; quite how we were going to get back was another matter. Anyway, the day did indeed dawn with blue skies and no clouds. After a quick breakfast, we got ready, put on our walking boots, tightened our belts and stepped out into the big wild world. The plan was to walk from our house, down to South Foreland Lighthouse, along the cliffs to Dover, up Shakespeare Cliff at the southern side of the town, and finally along the cliffs into Capel le Fearne and into Folkestone.


In hindsight, I should have realised with the rain the day before, it was going to be squelchy underfoot, but those muddy footsteps were hours ahead. We walked along the main road into the village and then through the churchyard, over Reach Road though the old council estate (or it looks like it was) and then we struck out over the muddy fields towards the lighthouse and the cliff edge beyond.

It seems that Jools was having, quite rightly, second thoughts about the idea of the full 16 mile walk to Folkestone, and she soon decided to only walk as far as Dover and then get a bus back home, and so would be able to come and pick me up when I was tired or had completed the walk.

Langdon Bay, Dover

We took the path that leads from the lighthouse, but not right on the cliff edge, a tarmacked road winds its way along with the occasional tantalising view down to the cliff edge and the Channel. And after a while Dover Harbour could be seen, with as ever, the ferries going back and forth to France. We passed very few people on our way to Dover, even at the National Trust’s place there were just the usual few cars parked up looking at the fine views down to the harbour, with those inside not hardy enough to be outside.

After dodging the usual crazy drivers, one Dutch driver failing completely to notice me, failing to indicate and turn whilst I was in the way, we made our way down the steep path and steps, under Jubilee Way and into Dover. The sun still shone from a cloudless sky, and under the lea of the cliffs there was no wind, and it became quite war. Jools and I parted soon after, and I walked off along the promenade to the other side of town, where Shakespeare Cliff towered, and the way to Folkestone snaked up.

Shakespeare Beach from Shakespeare Cliff

The sea front was getting already crowded with those taking in the morning; families let children onto the sandy beach, hardy souls went swimming in the harbour and others just walked their dogs. I, however, strode on, and soon left the people behind as I walked beside the A20 past Archcliffe Fort, through the subway under the road and then up the increasingly steep path up the cliff.

White streaks

It was at this point that my knees and right ankle began to complain really quite loudly. My lack of fitness meant that I stopped at regular intervals for a breather and to take photographs. The real climb begins just above where the allotments end; the concrete path ends and there is grass high above. After wet weather, the path is treacherous, and if you recall from earlier in this post, we had rain all the previous day. And so the climb was almost impossible. By the hanging on to thorn thickets and a barbed wire fence, I edged up the cliff until the slope flattened out and I could turn and survey the climb I had just completed. My hands were cut and scratched from the thorns and barbed wire, but I had done it. I sat down and after taking a shot with my mobile phone and uploaded it to Flickr; such is the modern way.

The view from Shakespeare Cliff

And then, I got up and continued on my way.

The views over the edge of the cliff are always stunning; the cliff rises like a huge wave over a 100 feet, and drops away sheer to the beach and sea below. It can be vertigo inducing, but is thrilling, and so it is along the edge of the cliff I walk rather than the marked path a few feet from the edge. Clouds roll in and once again I am in the keen north-east breeze, whilst behind me Dover and the cliffs beyond are in permanent sunshine.

The path is boggy in places, and going quite slow. And as expected the effort began to take its toll on my legs and joints. Folkestone, I realised, was not going to happen today. Nor was the Vallient Sailor pub with it’s fine ales, and not even the Battle of Britain memorial. I called Jools to say I was about an hour from the cliff-top café in Capel and could she meet me there. I walked the final mile along the cliffs, with the most spectacular part which clings to the very edge of the cliffs with sheer drops to the railway below, protected by a sturdy fence. I snap a Javelin heading to Dover, before turning down a footpath to the main road, as I knew from previous walks the path was going to get really muddy from that point on.

No sooner had I made it to the main road than Jools pulled up beside me, and the walk was over. I loaded my bag and coat in the back, and we drive back home, and I am sipping a cup of tea within 20 minutes of being picked up. And as if by coincidence a football match had just begun on TV, and so I sat down with assorted cats to enjoy the match before it was time to cook dinner.

There really is nothing quite like a roast dinner to get the juices flowing, and as a very special treat I had go a joint of lamb for dinner, and it was every bit as delicious as our anticipation had suggested it would be.

And there ended the weekend.