After staying fairly local on Monday, Tuesday saw us travelling a little further afield and west to the charming little city of Canterbury as we eschewed Rosie’s comforts and instead threw ourselves on the mercy of Stagecoach and it’s ancient fleet of buses. It took about 40 minutes or so and the main advantage was that the bus stop was almost opposite the site entrance. A day ticket covered the whole of Kent, so it was as good as value as you made it.
We’d been to Canterbury before – around three years ago in our first year of caravanning – and in the old Patsy – which you can read about HERE. This trip was less about sightseeing and more about shopping. Trev was after a new pair of shoes and although I hadn’t anything particular in mind, was looking forward to ambling around some shops. What I like about Canterbury’s shopping options is that the usual chain store suspects are clustered up near the bus station, then as you move away, independent shops begin to dominate.
Well, our search for a pair of shoes for the Portly Partner had so far proved fruitless, so we paused and recharged on coffee and tea cakes. On emerging, there was a shop which, not surprisingly caught my attention:
Of course, I had to have a look, and emerged a little while later with a new pair of jeans. Did I need them? Well, er, no but they were very tasty. You needn’t ask the colour – or the material. Obviously.
Our wanderings continued for a while longer, but when we got back on the bus Trev was still empty handed. Unperturbed, we stayed on the bus which went back past the site, through Ramsgate and Broastairs before stopping at Westwood Cross – a shopping centre and retail park sitting inland a little on the main road between Ramsgate and Margate. It was fairly busy and I could only wonder what impact this had had on the aforementioned town centres. We’ve seen this a lot on our travels – do councils not think of the consequences on struggling town centres when they give permission for things like this? Of course merely by visiting it, we were in effect supporting it, but we came away emptyhanded, making the most of our day tickets to utilise the regular ‘Thanet Loop’ bus service to get back to our site.
Wednesday brought with it a return of the high winds and with overcast skies it was pretty grim, though by no means cold. We emerged quite late to grab a few snaps up by the boating pool – it was empty of course and looked a little desolate but the cafe was doing a steady trade thanks to dog walkers and the grey army with grandkids in tow. Out on the cliffs you could see Ramsgate’s ferry terminal lying sadly idle. Regular services – mainly freight, but they allowed cars – to Ostend ceased in 2013, but prior to that Sally Line ran a regular passenger and car service to Dunkirk for many years, and I went on it with my Mum & Dad a number of times when we stayed in Cliftonville.
We paused for photo’s in the town’s marina – and whilst there may be evidence of some hard times around the town, there was none here judging by some of the vessels. The towns’ frontage made for a nice back drop.
The Maritime museum sits by the marina and a sign reminds us that we are in one of the most easterly parts of the UK. There was once a line indicating Ramsgate Mean Time (RMT) and it was officially recognised by Greenwich:
Whilst Greenwich Mean Time was adopted in 1841, the firework displays marking the start of the new millenium were set off 5 minutes and 41 seconds earlier than the rest of the country.
The evening saw us heading west again to Faversham – which as ale-heads will know – is home to Britains oldest brewer – Shepherd Neame. That was not the reason for going though. Alison – one of Twittercamp’s regulars - had invited us around for grog and grub. We had a great evening getting to meet at last, her other half, Dallas as well as catching up again with her son Adam and partner Jamie, also keen caravanners.
With the high winds and rain due to return on Saturday we decided to come home a day early. Patsy may be heavy but but she’s as vulnerable to high winds as any other caravan and there was just no point in putting ourselves – or others – at risk by towing when we didn’t need to. We started packing up – well – a bit – but generally had a lazy day, popping out only for something to eat late afternoon.
Our New Year’s Eve was quiet – in front of the telly with the remainder of our last mini-cask of ale – so not really all that different to many other nights in the van to be honest. Given that we were travelling the next day even the fizz stayed in the fridge.
Well, the rain came earlier than expected on the Friday, but not until we’d made the two and a half hour drive back from Ramsgate to Patsy’s storage site. There was even time to give her a much needed wash.
So, another trip concluded. The weather was largely dry – and very mild – a bonus for this time of the year when you always take a chance. The Broughton Hall Farm site in Suffolk was lovely, even in the winter, the Caravan Club site in Cambridge was as immaculate as ever, and Nethercourt Touring Park in Ramsgate offered excellent value in a great location for exploring the area
What’s next? Well, obviously it’s back to school for us in our respective jobs, but half-term beckons in February when we are booked in to Crystal Palace in South London for a week.
March see’s the first of two planned Twittercamp UK meets – in our old home town of Cambridge – for a long weekend before we head up north again for the rest of the school’s Easter holidays.
So, until the next time – wherever you are – get them legs down!