Sunday, 26 April 2009

Tour 2008 - Eastbourne to Canterbury via Hastings and Rye

Our next destination was Canterbury in Kent and our route followed the coast round through Bexhill and Hastings. A stop at Hastings was planned - we’d read mixed reports about the town and wanted to make up our own minds.

As we drove through Hastings, we noticed there was no parking at all on the seafront, unlike many English seaside resports. Furthermore, all the car parks passed had height barriers, with the exception of the last one which, unfortunately, we didn’t spot in time, and not finding a handy petrol station to do a hasty u-turn had to leave Hastings, for now, unexplored. It looked pleasant enough, what we saw whilst looking for a car park, similar in feel to Eastbourne, and there were plenty of holidaymakers knocking about looking like they were enjoying themselves in the overcast weather. We noticed that the pier, in the middle of the seafront, was closed down, which unfortunately gave a slightly derelict air to that part of town.

Continuing east, we approached the town of Rye, which, whilst not initially on our radar, looked very enticing as we cruised through and an impromptu stop was hastily negotiated with the driver. By following the blue “P” signs for coaches and lorries, we effortlessly ended up in the extremely large Station Car Park, with no height barriers. We spotted a German motorhome parked in one of the many vacant coach bays, and no sign of a ticket, so we figured it would be OK – and it was.

Rye is a lively, compact town and we spent two fascinating hours pottering around the range of independent and specialist shops – including some lovely antique shops. Reluctantly, we headed off for our evening destination - Canterbury Camping and Caravanning Club site.

Image above - main street, Rye. Copyright 2009

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Tour 2008 - Brighton To Pevensey, East Sussex - Fairfields Farm

Fairfields Farm is one of the most popular campsites on and we wanted to check it out for ourselves. Located just 4 miles from Eastbourne, and one mile from the sea, it’s ideally placed for visitors from London and the South East wanting a either quick weekend getaway or a longer holiday. The resident wardens are extremely friendly and take great care of the site, making sure it is clean and tidy, regularly mowing the grass and keeping the toilet block clean. They also advise on the best restaurants and takeaways (and, more importantly, which ones to avoid!)

Fairfields Farm attracts a lot of overseas visitors and we spotted Dutch, German and French number plates in the short time we were there. The key attractions on this site are the fishing pond and the wide range of unusual farm animals, which you can get up close to and stroke. We saw peahens with their chicks, hens, ducks, cute little Shetland ponies, miniature pigs, and goats.

A 5 minute flat walk takes you to Pevensey/Westham railway station, and from there, Eastbourne is a 10 minute or 4 mile train journey away, at a cost of just £2.70 adult return.

Eastbourne is an elegant Victorian resort, altogether more refined and restrained than Brighton. Prices were surprisingly reasonable for food and there was a huge range of places to eat, from seafront restaurants in the poshest hotel, to cosy tea rooms in the town centre. There were some interesting shops too. We found Eastbourne quiet, but this was unsurprising given the horrendous weather the UK had experienced over the preceeding days.

A must-see attraction whilst at Fairfields Farm is Pevensey Castle, 10 minutes walk away. An English Heritage-run property dating back to Roman times, it’s free to walk in the grounds (and dogs are permitted). We nearly didn’t go inside, but are glad we did, because for £4.70 you get to explore the inside rooms, and an interesting and entertaining audio tour is included. These places need our money if they are to remain viable so we were pleased we’d donated via our entrance fee. Dogs were forbidden from the inside rooms, but as we’d got the place to ourselves, we were able to safely leave her tied up nearby and she came to no harm. Nearby, St Nicholas Church, Pevensey, is the very first Norman church in England.

Labels: ,

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Tour 2008 - The things you see on campsites .....

What other campers get up to on camp sites never ceases to amaze and amuse, and can provide an ongoing source of entertainment and amusement if you keep your eyes open

Picture the scene: Brighton Caravan Club Site, early evening in September (see previous blog), gale force winds and persistent torrential rain. Not a time to be outside.

A large motorhome drives slowly up the access road to the very top tier of the site. On the roof is a HUGE satellite dish set at an unusually jaunty angle. What’s happening here? Has he travelled here like that, or is just he moving from a lower pitch in search of a good signal?

Dusk is falling now, we don’t switch the motorhome lights on, so they can’t see us watching. Motorhome slowly pulls into the empty pitch opposite. With the engine still running, the Heki roof-light is flung open, (it’s pouring with rain and a howling gale, remember,) the driver exits the cab, jacket-less, walks to the back of the ‘van and climbs onto motorhome roof via the ladder at the back (the roof must have been like a skating rink) and shouts instructions down through the open sunroof to the poor unfortunate occupant inside. What these instruction were we will never know. After 10 minutes of rain, roof and shouted instructions, roof-light is closed, ladder is descended and, with the engine still running, said motorhome drives slowly off in search of - ?? Another pitch with a better signal? Another campsite where no-one is watching??

What’s wrong with a nice game of Scrabble, a good book or even, if all else fails, having a conversation with each other?

Image above courtesy of