Saturday, July 12, 2008

Holidays, Friends and Internet Friends

During the last few years I have met some very good people on the Internet a handful of whom I consider real friends. By real friends I mean friends who mean as much to me as people I call friends in my everyday life. This holiday blog is here for them to share. If you should happen across it then please feel free to enjoy.

Our location was Rye Harbour in Sussex, as recommended to me by one of the aforementioned Internet friends. But first we had to head of to Woking where I was due to deliver a talk to the local astrology group. We set off in plenty of time for what should have been a journey of a couple of hours. One hour later we reached the M25, a further three hours and we finally reach the junction for Woking. Just time to book into our room, get a taxi into town, grab an extremely hasty, but not very tasty, pub meal and it’s off to deliver the talk entitled Trains & Boats & Planes. It seemed to be received very well. Back to the hotel and decided on a quick drink in the bar – that quick drink cost nearly £20!

Saturday and we are up early. After breakfast we head off to Hastings with some trepidation, hoping against hope that the traffic will not be against us. It wasn’t and we are in Hastings by 10:30 am. The sun is shining and the sky is blue, we spend a few hours wandering the Old Town with its eclectic mix of independent shops, art galleries and antique shops. Afternoon we head of to Sainsbury’s to stock up on some supplies, including a large bottle of Pimms, then it’s off to Frenchman’s Beach Caravan Park at Rye Harbour.

Caravan is compact, clean and modern. We make ourselves at home, have a quick bite to eat and decide to walk the path through the nature reserve along to the beach, the views to the left of us across to Camber are as spectacular as the views to our right to Winchlesea. We return and sit outside in the late afternoon sunshine drinking Pimms.


Sunday, didn’t sleep to well so we are up early. The sky is grey and it is windy! Not deterred we breakfast and shower (big disappointment, the shower is nowhere near hot enough for my liking) and head off to explore Rye. As we arrive there is a shower, then the sky clears and we have some sunshine, it’s still windy though. We wander around, exploring and taking pictures. We stop at a little cafĂ© with a beautiful terraced garden and eat some lunch. As we finish lunch the sky darkens, we head off to our caravan and the rain comes down.

Sunday afternoon I am excitedly awaiting a visit from the Internet friend who recommended the caravan site to us, it will be the first time we have actually met. I’m up and down, looking out of the window like an excited kid. At last a car pulls in, I go out and there is my friend, with hubby and kids. I would say she looks just like her photo, but really her pictures don’t do her justice, she is far more beautiful in the flesh, so to speak. With her is her handsome hunk of a hubby and two of the most delightful lads I have ever met. We chatter away over a cuppa, then the rain stops so we decide to go for a walk along the nature reserve path, the boys have their bikes with them and they are off like a shot. We explore pebbles, stones and shells. The lads skim stones with their dad, the eldest lad bettering his dad in stone skimming bounces. We can see the sky is darkening so we head back, but the rain had no intention of waiting for us to get to shelter, it squalls in and soaks us all through. Back at the caravan the boys are dried off, luckily mum brought along a change of clothes for them. We slam on the gas fire and all sit there steaming ourselves dry. The rain stops and the boys go out to hunt for rabbits.


There follows one of the funniest things I have seen, as we stand watching a rabbit runs between the caravans, followed a few seconds later by the eldest lad, wait another few seconds and there comes the little lad, stops to look round and then goes running off after big brother and rabbit, then the rabbit comes hopping through the next row of caravans, followed by big brother and trailing after comes little brother. We adults are in stitches watching their antics. All too soon the fun has to end and my friend and her family have to head home.

Monday and it’s raining. We decide to head off to Battle to get us some history culture. We explore the pretty high street, then visit the castle. We decide that despite the rain we will do the audio tour of the Battlefields. We spend a couple of hours wandering around and learning about 1066 and the Battle of Hastings. Eventually it stops raining, we continue exploring the abbey ruins, the castle and grounds.

It’s dry now but windy, we decide to head off to Bexhill-on-Sea. We get there but are a bit disappointed, it’s very windy and cold and there is not much here. We have parked in a Sainsbury’s carpark, so we stop off to buy some essential chocolate supplies. As we are queuing at the till Mr A whispers that the old woman serving could be Julie Walter’s character, Mrs Overall, in Acorn Antiques, the woman is gossiping to the customer in front of us, her hands are shaking as much as Mrs Overall, just as she is finally putting our shopping through the scanner Mr A whispers “soup?” I crack up and indeed I am laughing so hard I can hardly see to enter my pin number. Poor woman is looking at me as if I am mad. I am still laughing as we reach the car.

We decide to drive back along the road that takes us through the pretty villages between Hastings and Rye, we stop off at Pett Level and go for a wander. We have a cup of coffee at the Smuggler’s Inn and then wander some more. We are thrilled to see the White House of Grand Design’s fame. The two houses next to it are just as grand, so we wander the sea wall behind them to have a nose and take a couple of pictures.


It’s a dry evening, though the wind is still brisk. We return to our caravan to eat, then we take an evening walk through the nature reserve to the beach before heading back to our caravan and bed.

Tuesday and the sun is shining, woohoo! We pack ourselves a picnic and head off to Hastings Country Park just past Fairlight. For hours we wander down glens and up hills, through heathland and through forests. We are heading back to the car to get our picnic when a sudden squall of rain soaks us. We sit in the car, eat and wait for the sun to shine again. It soon does, and only slightly damp we then we head off to the Firehills. The views are so spectacular we are open mouthed in amazement.


We cannot stop looking, we can see for miles across the Sussex and Kent countryside, the sea sweeps around the the headland like pale blue silk. If that sounds too poetic it is because this view inspires poetry. Unfortunately the dark clouds roll in and here comes the rain again. So it’s back to the caravan for dry clothes then we head off to the Smuggler’s Inn at Pett Level for an evening meal.


On the way back we stop between Pett and Winchlesea to walk the bank alongside the beach. Every time a car passes we do something silly such as a Madness walk or start skipping. The tide is out but has left puddles and spaces between like stepping stones, so we skip and dance across the stepping stones to the sea. One day we will maybe grow up.

Back at the caravan I give in to my Internet addiction and use my mobile as a modem. I visit my favourite forum and have enough time for a couple of posts, damn dial up is so slow though! During that brief time I hear some news about another internet friend, wish I could just give him a real life hug, but have to settle for a cyber hug instead.

Wednesday and what do you know? It’s raining! Not going to let a little rain stop us so off we head to Canterbury. Our trusty sat-nav actually gets us there without a hitch. Only problem is we spend a good 90 minutes looking for the cathedral. We eventually find it, pays our money and head off in. Some off it has been hired for the University of Kent Graduation, I felt sorry for all the students and family in their best clothes just getting soaked! The cathedral is indeed magnificent, though being of a cynical nature Mr A and I wondered about the richness of the church compared to the poor. How many £’s to build this while the local people struggled? After a good couple of hours we emerged, we stopped for a fantastic lunch in an Italian restaurant then visited Eastbridge hospital. Not a hospital as we know it, more of a mediaeval YMCA. From there we went to Greyfriars chapel and gardens.


Following this we visited Canterbury museum where there was a special Rupert and Bagpuss exhibition. It hasn’t stopped raining all day. Late afternoon and we head back to our caravan.

Thursday and it’s raining again, we have had the fire turned on every morning because it is so chilly. I’m depressed and I want to go home. Once I’m showered and dressed I step outside for a ciggie and see a black pall of smoke rising up to the sky. I ask the park staff what it is. Turns out there is a major fire in a furniture factory on the Rye road. We are told the road has been closed. Great! We are stuck here and what is more we have run out of coffee!


We wander down to have a look and can see the fierceness of the flames as they shoot up into the sky, bits of burning packaging are flying through the air and here and there we hear the sounds of small explosions.

We are prepared to walk along the beach to Winchlesea to escape, but find out that the nature reserve road has been opened to traffic. So we get in the care and drive carefully along the road to Winchlesea, and from there head off into Hastings. By the time we arrive the sun is shining and the sky is blue. We wander the old town again and then make our way to Westhill to look for the smugglers caves. At the top of the hill we pause for a while to admire the view. The smuggler’s caves are a marvel, what a shame they have been so commercialised.

We wander back and have a coffee, then head back to the car, pausing on the way to buy a hoola hoop. We are trying to find the lower part of the Country Park, we drive around in circles and still can’t find it so we just go for a drive through the Sussex/Kent countryside. We find a Waitrose, pop in to buy some salad and a flan for our tea. We head back and discover the road is still closed, it takes us a while to find the nature reserve road from the Winchlesea end but we do eventually. The weather is still wonderful so we sit outside in the sunshine. We eat and take another walk along the nature reserve path to the beach, we take the hoola hoop with us and making sure the beach is deserted we find out that in the long years since we were kids we have forgotten how to hula hoop, we have fun trying though. Did I say that one day we might grow up? As we head back to the caravan there is a spectacular sunset and so another day ends.

Friday and the day starts of grey, we decide to head off to Eastbourne. By the time we arrive the sun is shining. We sit on the beach and eat fish & chips. They are not nearly as tasty as those we get in Felixstowe. We take a windy walk along the pier to take some photographs, then we head back to Hastings, determined to find more of the country Park. This time we are successful! By the time we have arrived the sun is shining and the sky is blue. We walk for miles drinking in the view. We wend our way down a glen to a beach path. The path was closed with advice that if we walked it it was at our own risk. Not deterred we climbed through and headed downward.


We took note of another warning sign and continued. The beach was a hidden gem, can’t say the same for the naturist though.


We head back to the caravan to eat and drink some more Pimms in the sunshine. Saturday morning, our last day and the sun is shining. The wind has died down and it is the warmest day yet. We take one last walk along the nature reserve to the beach before we head off for home.


Those who know me will get to see the rest of the pictures. I'm sure that one day we will return to this beautiful part of England.


Kitty said...

What a fantastic blog post! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I'm very jealous that you and your friend got to meet one another - I'd love to meet both of you.

Shame there was no photo of the naturist ;-)


sas said...

Thanks Kitty
I'm sure we will get to meet one day, it's in the stars. As for the naturist, I didn't want to break my camera ;)