Thursday, 31 March 2011

Lost in fog.

34.2 Miles. Now at at Black Horse Farm near Folkestone.

After quite a lengthy stay at Sarre Windmill it was time to be moving on. Cool temperatures and distant mist were what we set off with but this was nothing to what we were about to encounter around Dover.

No, it's not something you eat!

No, it's not something you eat!

Narrow one way streets of Sandwich.

Narrow one way streets of Sandwich.

Our first port of call was Sandwich which looked to be quite an interesting sort of place but the usual problem of where to park was our bug bear. On to Deal and this time we were more successful with free parking on the sea front near Deal Castle. An hours walkabout for some pictures was all we needed here. The beach is very steep and all pebbles unlike Margate, not a child friendly place. The Time Ball tower and the fishing boats were about the most interesting features around here.

Deal Pier, a mecca for fishermen.

Deal Pier, a mecca for fishermen.

Fishing boats and Crab pots adorn Deal beach.

Fishing boats and Crab pots adorn Deal beach.

Each fishing boat has it's own winch to drag it up the beach for safe haven. Heath Robinson affairs but they work.

Each fishing boat has it's own winch to drag it up the beach for safe haven. Heath Robinson affairs but they work.

Old clinker built fishing boats at Deal.

Old clinker built fishing boats at Deal.

From Deal we set the Garmin to our next stop over at Black Horse Farm Caravan Club site near Folkestone. As we approached Dover the fog started to roll in and was getting quite dense. At one point we could barely see 100 yards ahead and due to some road works at the intersection we were supposed to turn off at we missed the turning. It was a this point that I reverted to the old fashioned map reading and made the final leg of the journey, visually reading road signs.

Deal Time Ball originally connected to Greenwich but now operates hourly, more for amusement than anything.

Deal Time Ball originally connected to Greenwich but now operates hourly, more for amusement than anything.

Sea front boarding houses along Deal Marine Parade..

Sea front boarding houses along Deal Marine Parade.

Deal's pier and pebble beach. No sand here I'm afraid.

Deal's pier and pebble beach. No sand here I'm afraid.

Deal castle.

Deal Castle.

We had no sooner set ourselves up on site at the camp when the rain arrived and has been getting steadily worse. Still can’t complain this is the first decent rain fall we have had for quite a while. It gave us the opportunity to make use of the laundry and catch up with the washing. Hopefully things will improve tomorrow.

 

Gypsy Rover MkIV at Black Horse Caravan Club site 30/03/2011.

Gypsy Rover Mk IV at Black Horse Caravan Club site

A total of 897 miles, since 5 March 2011

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Meeting Distant Relatives.

We have been in touch with a distant relative of mine since we started blogging our adventures on the canal. Phyl and her belated husband George had been working on a Canvin family tree for some years and came across our website which had some relevance to them. It transpired that Phyl’s grandfather was a Canvin and worked the barges or narrowboats as they are called now on the Grand Union canal around Apsley Mills. Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet them before George died 4 years ago but was determined to meet Phyl and her daughter Ruth before returning to New Zealand.

Ruth, Derek & Phyl all part of the Canvin Family tree.

Ruth, Derek and Phyl all part of the Canvin Family.

This we did this morning by catching the bus to Canterbury and then changing buses to Herne village near Herne Bay. The visit was a complete success as it didn’t feel like meeting strangers but catching up with long lost relatives which of course we are, how ever far apart. Just a few hours of our lives which will live on for ever.

Phyl's home in Herne village. Handed down from husband George's mother.

Phyl's home in Herne village. Handed down from husband George's mother.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Sarre Windmill.

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Sarre Windmill built 1820.

Sarre Mill.

Sarre Mill.

Gypsy Rover MkIV looks small from the top of Sarre Mill.

Gypsy Rover MkIV looks small from the top of Sarre Mill.

Yesterday we had our own private viewing of the windmill which as it stands is one of only half a dozen in Britain in full working order. Sadly the owner informed us that the mill ceased operation in November 2010 due to the high cost of wheat (£100 per ton) making it non viable. This is a real shame as we can see the windmill will just fall into a state of disrepair and will be lost to future generations.

More modern milling machine.

More modern milling machine.

Milling stone at Sarre Mill.

Milling stone at Sarre Mill.

Mind you head!

Mind you head!

Sadly the end of another piece of working history.

The owner is turning the site into holiday apartments and a museum but will retain the Caravan Club CL. We have found the site great for easy public transport to the whole Kent district and would recommend it as a good stopping point. We just need to convince the owner to put in power point supply.

How's this for an old wheel chair/ high chair for a Victorian child.

Circular Tour.

Margate town clock.

Margate town clock.

This morning we were back out at the bus stop for a No 8 bus but this time heading in a Westerly direction out to the coast and Margate. All the locals we have spoken to all said “Oh’ you don’t want to go there”. But we did anyway. The day started off cool and misty and walking around the Margate water front was quite chilling. I must admit that the town did look a tad run down but it seems there are moves afoot to spruce the place up.

Margate beach and promenade.

Margate beach and promenade.

We found the Margate Lifeboat on part of the beach and we found out later that the Lifeboat shed was temporarily cut off by a new building construction site and the lifeboat would only be on the beach until access to the shed was restored. The lifeboat was on a very unusual launch trailer in which the tractor was on caterpillar tracks and there were hydraulic connections to another caterpillar trailer apparatus underneath the lifeboat. Obviously to get across soft sand it was a most unusual set up which we have not seen before.

Margate lifeboat and it's unusual launching system down on the beach. It's normal home was blocked off by a construction site.

Margate lifeboat and it's unusual launching system down on the beach. It's normal home was blocked off by a construction site.

The best part of the place was the beautiful sandy beach which a lot of seaside resorts would die for. After an hour or so wandering around town we caught the local Loop bus which as its name suggests it just runs around in a circle between Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate in both directions on a ten minute service.

Miles of lovely beach.

Miles of lovely beach.

Ramsgate, being the only Royal Harbour in Britain was quite a different scenario to Margate. The harbour was granted Royal status by King George IV. The harbour is a thriving centre for recreational craft, fishing and trip boats and the ferry to Oostende, Holland. The dredger was busy keeping the harbour clear and there were new floating pontoons being installed to accommodate more craft.

Ramsgate harbour.

Ramsgate Harbour.

An old Scottish fishing boat at Ramsgate.

An old Scottish fishing boat at Ramsgate.

There is a Maritime Museum but unfortunately this was closed. After a nice lunch of Cod and chips down on the quay side, we wandered up into town to find a supermarket before catching the second to last number 9 bus of the day which took us in a complete circle from Sarre, Margate, Ramsgate and back to Sarre.

Ramsgate

Ramsgate Beach

Oostende ferry at Ramsgate.

Oostende ferry at Ramsgate.

Good fish and chips here.

Good fish and chips here and a great day out.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Christ Church Cathedral

After the Cathedral closes the grounds are open to the public.

After the Christ Church Cathedral in Canterbury.

Older ruins of Christ Church Cathedral, Canterbury.

Older ruins of Christ Church Cathedral, Canterbury.

Older ruins of Christ Church Cathedral, Canterbury.

Tracey and Greg at the old ruins of Christ Church Cathedral, in Canterbury.

Older ruins of Christ Church Cathedral, Canterbury.

Older ruins of Christ Church Cathedral, Canterbury.

The cloisters, Kings college, Canterbury.

The cloisters, Kings college, Canterbury.

The grounds of Kings College Canterbury.

The grounds of Kings College Canterbury.

Hyacinths, Daffodils and Tulips in a quiet garden of Kings College grounds Canterbury.

Hyacinths, Daffodils and Tulips in a quiet garden of Kings College grounds Canterbury.

Canterbury Tales.

Yesterday we set of by bus for Canterbury. We only got as far as Sturry when traffic came to a dead halt due to a serious accident. Instead of diverting traffic back at an earlier intersection the Police were letting vehicles drive right up to the accident site and then turning them back except for buses and trucks who couldn’t turn in the space available.

Double Decker buses lined up after the accident.

Double Decker buses lined up after the accident.

They then formed a neat line of 11 buses and one truck. Everybody was debussed and opted to walk the supposed mile and a bit to the city. We must have walked a good mile and there was no sign of the city or the Cathedral. By this time the crash scene had been cleared (oil and glass everywhere) and the buses were on the move so we caught another bus for the final leg into the city. We were glad we did because the city wasn’t as close as we had been told.

Canterbury clock tower. All that remains of St Georges church after a bombing raid in 1942.

Canterbury clock tower. All that remains of St Georges church after a bombing raid in 1942.

How many millions of stones would have been collected just to build this part of the fortified wall around Canterbury?

How many millions of stones would have been collected just to build this part of the fortified wall around Canterbury?

Once we got our bearings we were off around the city wall to start off with. Along the way we received a text message from friend’s Derek and Carrie on Nb Uccello to say be sure to visit the Weavers house and Little Italy restaurant by the river. This we did but opted not to dine at the restaurant which was a bit pricey for a couple of pensioners.

Dane John mound inside the Dane John Gardens.

Dane John mound inside the Dane John Gardens.

Visitor centre in the Butter Market, Canterbury.

Visitor centre in the Butter Market, Canterbury.

After lunch we were joined by Tracey and her partner Greg who had booked a room at the Crown hotel in Sarre which meant we didn’t need to catch a bus back to camp. I will let pictures tell the story of Canterbury rather than try and write about it all.

Inside Canterbury Castle which had a circular stiarway between floors.

Inside Canterbury Castle which had a circular stairway between floors.

The old Weavers House AD1500. Canterbury.

The old Weavers House AD1500. Canterbury.

Back in Sarre we got Greg and Tracey booked in at the hotel first before walking just around the corner for them to see Gypsy Rover Mk IV. It was then back to the hotel for drinks and dinner. There was also some free entertainment from the landlord who is a bit of a character with his dry humour and pan face never giving a hint of truth or fiction. Apparently he used to own the other hotel in Sarre (the Kings Head) which he confirmed is haunted and some of the trials and tribulations he went through in his dealings with the ghost or ghost’s. The time a guest rang down to reception complaining that he couldn’t get out of his room even though it appeared to be unlocked. The landlord opened the door without any problem from the outside with a distinct rush of air as he did so. Another time he recalled that he had closed up for the night and turned off all the lights before retiring upstairs. When he looked out of his bedroom window he could see that the bar lights were still on, so he had to return downstairs where he was aware that he wasn’t alone whilst turning off the light’s once more.

Weavers House Canterbury overlooking the river Stour and the guided boat trips. The witches ducking stool is above the white boats.

Weavers House Canterbury overlooking the river Stour and the guided boat trips. The witches ducking stool is above the white boats.

For anybody visiting Sarre we can thoroughly recommend the Crown hotel for good food, good accommodation and a friendly landlord.

There are many buildings in Canterbury built using the same stones as this.

There are many buildings in Canterbury built using the flint stone as this.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Under the Thames to Kent.

111.1 Miles. Now at Sarre Windmill.

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Parked along the Marine Parade in Whitstable.

As we were so close to Cranham Caravans this morning we decided to pay them a visit to discuss various little pointers about problems with the motorhome. We spoke at length with Geoff, Cranham’s trouble shooter, about various faults and he agreed that things were not as they should be. He took photographic evidence to  pass onto Autotrail to try and get things rectified. Hopefully this will be sorted out when we return the motorhome to Cranham’s in preparation for shipping to New Zealand.

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Under the Thames at Blackwall Tunnel

Next stop was a gas station and supermarket which we found conveniently next door to each other at Becontree Heath which I believe is basically Dagenham. The Total gas station was only £1.36.9p a litre for diesel and Morrison’s had a very large car park where I managed to squeeze on to 2 parks.  There was plenty of other parks available so nobody missed out.

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Along the seafront at Whitstable for lunch.

From here it was heading towards London with a last minute change of direction down the Blackwall tunnel. Out the other side and on into Kent. We made good progress until we realised that the wrong post code had been put into the Garmin which took us to the camp site we are booked into from next Monday. As we didn’t want to miss seeing the Sarre Windmill we had to backtrack quite a way which also took us to a road only 6’ 6” wide which was no good to us at 7’ 7” wide. We eventually found our way with the help of a couple of local’s. Unfortunately we had overlooked the fact there is no electrical hook up’s on this site so I had to get the owners permission to run the generator. We may cut short our stay here, we will have to see how things work out.

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Sarre Windmill outside Canterbury

We have been for a walk and sorted out the buses which are only a 5 minute walk away so tomorrow it will be a visit to Canterbury.

A total of 863 miles, since 5 March 2011

Friday, 25 March 2011

Here we go again.

Well, several years ago we had a narrowboat built almost entirely by communication over the internet.  We never saw the completed boat until we had travelled from New Zealand in time for the launch in 2004.

This time it’s a car bought sight unseen except by Dot’s son Richard. Dot had seen the car advertised on an online auction site and requested Richard go and inspect it and report back as to it’s worthiness. Reporting back it appeared to be a good buy, needless to say we now own a car once more.

My Note at Richards

Insuring it was not a problem and was done over the internet for an agreed value. As New Zealand now has no more car manufacturing plants, all our vehicles are imported, mainly from Japan.  Due to the horrendous earthquake earlier this month we decided it was probably time to start looking for a vehicle before there becomes a shortage in New Zealand.  If this were to happen the chances of getting a vehicle of our choice may have become very difficult.

The photo shows the car parked at Richards until our return.  A big thank you to Richard for his help and assure him it wouldn't look any good as a stock car.

Smile

Tide Mill unvisited.

78.5 Miles. Now in Upminster

Gypsy Rover IV at Newlands, Woodbridge.

Gypsy Rover IV at Newlands, Woodbridge.

A neat bit of plaiting don't you think?

A neat bit of plaiting don't you think?

Robin and Jenny, our friends from New Zealand suggested we should have a look at the Tide Mill which wasn’t far from our overnight camp. Well everything went well until we arrived on site. There were several car parks for vehicles of all sizes except Motorhomes. The only place big enough was the Coach and HGV park but a coach driver said that we shouldn’t park there but there were spaces at another car park just around the corner. When we found this other car park there was no way that we could park there without creating mayhem. Ah well, flag it away and carry on in a Southerly direction.

Woodbridge and this historic overhead crane had a height restriction sign at the end of the road. All the road around here are this narrow.

Woodbridge and this historic overhead crane had a height restriction sign at the end of the road.

Other than the narrow one way streets of Woodbridge and it’s quaint buildings the trip down the A12 was not very inspiring, mainly due to most of it being dual carriageway. A short run on the M25 which was in a state of chaos where they are widening it by another 2 lanes and we were soon parked up in another Caravan Club CL site within sight of the M25. Hopefully our next scheduled stop will be more interesting.

Woodbridge where all the roads are this narrow.

All the road around here are this narrow.  Very scary when we were driving down them.

A total of 752 miles, since 5 March 2011