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Our Adventure to the Southeast of England and London

Our Adventure to the Southeast of England and London

Old Aug 25th, 2014, 03:58 PM
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I will have to remember to get that book out of the library. It sounds interesting.

I forgot mention in the house is also a picture on the desk of one of their daughters who they sadly lost at an early age.

Hever Castle was also lovely.

Old-Buffer--I was told there is a street sign for HAM SANDWICH as HAM is close to Deal as well and there is a sign that combines the two.
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Old Aug 25th, 2014, 04:42 PM
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DAY 6 RYE, BATTLE AND FISHING BOAT TO SEVEN SISTERS

Well today was the day that the seas were calm enough for us to go out on a boat. The folks at the B&B were concerned we might turn green but we assured them we had been on motorboats before.

We spent the day with our new local friend who was taking time to tour the things in the area that he had never explored before so we decided to go together to Rye, Battle and then out to the town where his boat was located. He did the driving for us for the day in his car.

First stop after breakfast was the town of Rye which had been a Cinque port but silted up and is now about two miles inland from the sea. We parked in a car park near the Heritage Center. We opted not to watch the film but saw the penny arcades and left.

We saw the plaque that says "On this spot nothing happened". However, right in front of the plaque someone was getting a parking violation so now something did happen!

We went down Mermaid Street and saw the house with 2 front doors. We toured the castle museum which has displays about the smugglers who made up ghost stories so no one would recognize or steal their stash. We then went to see the little church nearby that just asks for a donation rather than an entrance fee. The church was very interesting.

We didn't have lunch at the Mermaid Inn but opted instead to have a quick bite at My Greek Kitchen. We spent a couple of hours in Rye overall. A very European looking town.

Next on to the town of Battle for Battle Abbey and the tour of the 1066 battlefield or what they think might have been the battlefield. There is much debate about where the actual site took place. This was on DH's list so it became a "must see" for us. You are provided with an audio guide and you can choose the short route which we did to allow time for the boat ride later but you can take the longer route around the battlefield if you like. Either way you end up in the same place at the ruins of Battle Abbey.

This is where England began. As you listen to the audio guide it depicts two versions of what happened from the perspective of Harold and from the perspective of William the Conqueror. This was done in a very interesting manner. As you walk there are sign markers and you press the next button on the marker to progress through the stories. Battle has a cute little town but we didn't have time to explore.

The highlight of the day of course was the fishing boat. Now prior to boarding we stopped by a supermarket to use the facilities and to purchase some fruit as a snack for the boat ride. I actually kept some of the fruit in a bag and didn't take it out until later. Good thing.

We proceeded slowly so the boat owner could tell if we were okay on a boat in the water. Then we went off toward Beachy Head and just beyond WOW! What a stunning view of the white cliffs. Some of them actually had some brown runoff from the winter rains and some parts of the cliff drop off over time due to erosion. That's why we were shocked to see glimpses of people walking so close to the edge of the cliff! I read that those spots up there are actually suicide spots for some.

There is an old lighthouse and a new lighthouse and we were close enough to get a picture of both together right near the cliffs.

Anyway DS had enough of the scenery and it was time for him to fish. Well instead of catching mackerel which is what he was hoping to catch. He ended up catching a weaver which is a poisonous fish! So our friend yelled "DON'T TOUCH THAT". If you touch the spikes of the back of the weaver it stings you worse than a jelly fish sting. He said he had not seen one of those in over ten years. His friend on the other boat caught mackerel but we only caught one poisonous fish that was thrown back into the water.

Well now I know why that happened. Remember the fruit I brought on board? I had bought cherries and bananas. Well I had no idea you are not to bring a banana on a fishing boat! It is bad luck to the fishermen. I found out when we exited the boat and I offered everyone the fruit and our boat owner friend yelled "YOU BOUGHT A BANANA ON THE BOAT? NO WONDER WE DIDN'T CATCH ANY FISH."

At first I thought he was joking but then I googled it and it is ancient folk lore that bananas for some reason bring bad luck to fishermen. Who knew? I certainly didn't otherwise I would have brought apples on board instead! Good thing I didn't take them out of the bag while we were on the boat. They were concealed until after the trip. What a story but it is true.

Back to the B&B and we told the B&B owner that we came back empty handed. He was going to prepare the fish if we brought any back with us. Oh well!

No fish but at least the scenery was absolutely gorgeous.

We all had dinner at Carluccios that night. It was a big noisy place. The food was okay. I liked Il Vusuvio better.

NEXT: CHATHAM DOCKYARDS AND LONDON
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Old Aug 25th, 2014, 06:42 PM
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EUROPEANNOVICE,

"His friend on the other boat caught mackerel but we only caught one poisonous fish that was thrown back into the water."

No doubt, that will make a great story for DS in the retelling- sounds like a fun day. My grandson is also 14 and he would consider that an adventure.
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Old Aug 25th, 2014, 07:29 PM
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Hi Lateday--It was an adventure for sure and yes he did tell all his friends when we came back home. That day was the highlight for all of us of the whole trip despite not catching any edible non poisonous fish! It was all my fault he tells everyone and it was! I seriously had no idea about the banana but you live and learn something new everyday. It was great of the man to offer up his boat and the scenery was truly amazing.

Thanks for following along as I write down our memories.
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Old Aug 26th, 2014, 02:31 AM
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"This is where England began" no, England became unified in 927AD or there abouts. The Normans where just the next load of norse-men who invaded, but the also the last and the first who developed good propaganda.
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Old Aug 26th, 2014, 02:42 AM
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Bananas and fishermen? It can't be that ancient, since bananas were hardly widespread in Britain till refrigerated ships came along. Maybe a fisherman slipped on a banana skin at sea and came to an unfortunate end.
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Old Aug 26th, 2014, 11:00 AM
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"Old-Buffer--I was told there is a street sign for HAM SANDWICH as HAM is close to Deal as well and there is a sign that combines the two."

There is indeed such a sign and I have yet to photograph it.
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Old Aug 26th, 2014, 06:18 PM
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Bilboburlger--Thanks for the additional information on England's beginnings.

PatrickLondon--When I googled it, there are definitely stories and theories about its origins. All I know is we caught one poisonous fish that day. However, we did see beautiful scenery so worth the boat ride for sure.

Old_Buffer--Will wait to see the photograph when you get to it.
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Old Aug 26th, 2014, 06:41 PM
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Here it is

https://www.google.com/search?q=ham+...w=1270&bih=617
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Old Aug 26th, 2014, 07:03 PM
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Before we move away from the Southeast, I want to mention I few observances about Royal Tunbridge Wells (everyone leaves out the Royal these days). It was also a spa town since it too has the mineral waters like Bath but did not become as popular as Bath. It has a railway station that goes into Charing Cross in London. These days one can shop in the Pantiles and still experience the mineral water if you dare.

It is a fairly upscale area with plenty of B&B's around. It is very central to the various National Trust Properties all around Kent. The great thing about it is the nice shopping area with loads of good restaurants to choose. It also has the Victoria Place shopping arcade with a Marks and Spencer and all sorts of stores.

I find the Marks and Spencer very interesting--a supermarket food store on the ground level and then clothing on the upper floors. In the US, I think only places like Walmart and Target include both food and clothes in their offerings. Most US department stores don't have full supermarkets in them. They may have a set of food stalls selling specialty items but not a full fledged supermarket.

The town of Tonbridge is the next town up (or close to it) and has a castle. I wonder why one is spelled Tunbridge Wells and the other Tonbridge. They are pronounced the same.

DAY 7--CHATHAM DOCKYARDS AND LONDON

The last day with the car. This day was going to rain heavily but it started out gray. We had wanted to visit the Chatham Dockyards so we did that prior to giving up the car.

At the Dockyards you can visit the HMS Ocelot submarine by timed ticket. Plus they have two other ships that were made at the dockyards one was called HMS Gannett and I forgot the other's name. We toured those. For the submarine you have to go through 4 hatches instead of doors.

The interesting feature of Chatham is the Ropery tour which is also by timed ticket. They tell you and show you how ropes are made. Ropes were used quite heavily on sailing ships. Certain sayings originate from those seafaring days. They used to flog sailors to keep them in line with a cat o nine tails. It was called that because the marks it left resembled a cat scratching the back. Hence the term--is it up to scratch. Then later friends would take turns flogging each other--so came the term I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine, etc. etc. The guide imparts little tidbits of information like that as you take the tour. At the end you can leave a donation for a piece of rope to take home.

They also had a special exhibit about WWI in the museum and a life boat collection. Another highlight of the place was Hearts of Oak. An interactive exhibit that has you going from room to room as you follow a story of a boy who wants to join the navy and the grandfather who wants the boy to be a shipbuilder like him. Very well done and imparts loads of information about ship building in a very fun way. Anyway, by the time we left, it was starting to rain.

Back over toward Heathrow, roads beginning to flood, car returned and now we are on our own with luggage. I had chosen the Crowne Plaza London Kensington for a few reasons--they are one of the few hotels in London which have two double beds in a room, I was able to get a AAA discounted rate and it is near Gloucester Road which is supposed to have access to the Piccadilly, District and Circle lines.

Well a few months back I read a post from someone who mentioned that Gloucester Road station would be closed and I nearly had a heart attack. FlannerUK straightened out the poster and corrected that the Piccadilly line at Gloucester Road would be inaccessible until Dec due to track works but of course the district and circle lines would still be operating from that station. Of course, Heathrow and other key places we wanted to visit were on the Piccadilly line. Got an oyster card for the day and a transfer is necessary at Hammersmith for the district line. All that week when we wanted the Piccadilly line we took the district line one stop to South Kensington and transferred or we just walked over to South Kensington Station depending if it was raining or not. A little bit more of a hassle but doable.

By the time we checked in, it was late afternoon so our room was ready, dropped bags, freshened up and back out for dinner. A while back I read about a little Italian restaurant with reasonable prices near South Kensington called Orsini and since I had wanted to go join a London Walks tour of Knightsbridge which took off from the South Kensington tube station it made sense to eat there. I wasn't sure if we would make the 7PM tour time so we told the waiter and our food came out quickly. The food was very very good. We liked it so much we went back for dinner there two more times during our stay.

We rushed over to the tube station and the group was about to take off but we were able to join. By then the rain was on and off again. It rained during the walk but was not as heavy as earlier in the day. We learned some interesting things about the area. It was a pub walk--in one pub I bought son a coke, in the second we just hid out from the rain and we didn't go into the third because that was the end of the tour. The tour ended about 21:30 near Harrods. Since we had an oyster card for the day we took bus #74 back from Harrods to Gloucester Road. The bus was packed.

Next: LETCHWORTH GARDEN CITY NOT YOUR TYPICAL TOURIST SPOT
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Old Aug 26th, 2014, 07:11 PM
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Thanks for the sign Janisj!
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Old Aug 27th, 2014, 03:20 AM
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EUROPEANNOVICE, interesting description of Royal Tunbridge Wells- love the name. I have often come across it in my reading. Ditto for the Chatham Dockyards.

You folks certainly did your homework. Will follow you through London...
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Old Aug 27th, 2014, 05:15 AM
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Europeannovice:

Very nice detailed report. Looking forward to the London portion.

Sandy
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Old Aug 27th, 2014, 07:18 AM
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just found this en. bmk to read later!
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Old Aug 27th, 2014, 08:44 AM
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Looking forward to your impressions of Letchworth, my husband was born and raised there. We've been back a few times to visit relatives.
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Old Aug 27th, 2014, 10:03 AM
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europeannovice, have really enjoyed reading this report. I'm looking forward to reading more! We're planning our trip next year with our high school graduate nephew. He's just going to put up with me oohing and aahing at castles and mansions!
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Old Aug 27th, 2014, 01:24 PM
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hi again, en - what an interesting read! just like a trip down memory lane for me - i may have mentioned when you were planning this that we used to live near Chartwell, so I was able to visualise so many of the places you describe. i'm so pleased that you enjoyed what you saw so much - the Weald of Kent is lovely and i still miss the view that i used to have as I drove home every day.

one query - you wrote this when you were talking about Dover Castle :

<<It is a fascinating story on how the folks at Dover Castle saved over 300,000 soldiers from Dunkirk France during World War II. >>

I'm pretty sure that they were not saved by the folks at Dover Castle alone - there were many others involved in the evacuation of Dunkirk if that's what they were referring to.
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Old Aug 27th, 2014, 07:02 PM
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Thanks SandyBrit, etc.--nice to know others are actually reading this. I hope it helps someone in their planning. I know I spent two years reading others reviews/posts of different areas in my planning of this trip.

Nola77382--I didn't think my 14 year old son would enjoy most of it but he found things he liked--the boat for sure, but also climbing Bodiam Castle, Dover Castle was great too. We tried to do things that would be of interest to each of us.

Annhig--Per wikipedia: "Without telling the French, the British began planning on 20 May for Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of the BEF.[19][23] Dynamo took its name from the dynamo room that provided electricity in the naval headquarters below Dover Castle".

So yes, it was a joint effort by many and of course the little boats that ferried the soldiers over to Dover from Dunkirk were instrumental in the operation as well. However, at Dover Castle they speak about the operations room and the strategies they took in coordinating the ferries etc.

I am glad you enjoyed my caption of Kent. The Weald of Kent is a beautiful area and Chartwell was definitely a favorite of mine.

Cathinjoetown--what a small world--so here it goes.

DAY 8--LETCHWORTH GARDEN CITY NOT YOUR TYPICAL TOURIST SPOT



The last time we visited London my husband had wanted to visit Letchworth but we focused on the main tourist sites instead and didn't get there. He is very much interested in the architecture and planning of the garden cities movement. This time we made sure it was on the agenda as one of his "must sees".

(As an aside, the AAA rate at our hotel was for room only. Breakfast at the hotel was £17.99 per adult and kids eat free. I had researched before and found Cafe Forum around the corner from our hotel--free croissant with the purchase of a cup of coffee. For much much less for the three of us, we had a decent breakfast every morning. They also sold Belgian waffles, eggs, muffins, fresh squeezed orange juice, fruit smoothies--my son liked the fruit smoothies. Cafe Forum is right near the tube station too).

So on our first full day in the city, we actually ventured out of the city. We used the Oyster card to go from Gloucester Road District line to South Kensington Piccadilly line to Kings Cross for the train to Letchworth. I am tired already.

We also purchased our 7 day paper travel cards on this day so we could take advantage of 2 for 1 offers later in the week. We had our passport sized photos with us so we got our train tickets to Letchworth and the 7 day paper travel cards. We should have looked for platform 9 and 3/4 early in the day but our train was about to take off so we just boarded instead.

Letchworth is the very first garden city--a city designed specifically for middle class/working class families to provide a little green space and to alleviate the overcrowding in the cities for the factory workers and their families. Other garden cities throughout the world began to develop within a relatively short time frame but Letchworth was the pioneer.

Raymond Unwin and Ebenezer Howard were the architects or planners who wanted to "combine the best of town and country living". Letchworth is also where the first roundabout was built in 1909.

I liked that Letchworth actually has a large shopping area right near the train station. There are a couple of supermarkets, plenty of retail stores, post office, restaurants etc. A real downtown look and feel. We looked around a bit first and had lunch at the Colannade pub. We had some ales and sandwiches and it was good. It was quite busy too.

One of the current day planners, Mervyn Miller created four different sets of walking tours that one can take describing in detail the architecture and the plan for certain sections of Letchworth. The walking tours point out details of specific houses and certain streets and landmarks etc. We took one and a half of those tours.

On the weekends they have a museum called Garden Cities International Exhibition open to the public or during the week by appointment only which discusses the idea and planning behind creating such a garden city. It also mentions all the other garden cities that have sprouted up in the world with maps, films and loads of information. The museum is nestled a little ways away from the main drag but within walking distance.

I was actually surprised at how large Letchworth is by comparison to the ones I am familiar with in the states. Some of the houses have little walkways/pathways that lead to an open area as is the plan of most garden cities. Letchworth actually has a very nice playground and water play area. Since it was a very sunny weekend day, plenty of families were out and about in the water or sunning themselves on the grass. Within walking distance are different styles of architecture--I thought they would have been more uniform in design but they vary quite a bit which is good as it adds variety.

Some may find it odd but we spent the day wandering around the neighborhood and following the walking tour maps noting the highlighted spots or details. We spent most of the day there.

Coming back to Kings Cross, we couldn't believe the line to take your picture at platform 9 and 3/4. There were people there with scarves and wands etc. Four years ago, we walked right on up to it and it was situated between platforms 4 and 5. I think it was moved now as it looked like it was in a different spot and the lines were ridiculous so we just walked away. Maybe it was the August crowds and we were last there in June. I don't know how to explain it but the line was just too long for what it is--nothing but a photo op.

We exited Kings Cross and crossed the street for bus #73 and we transferred to bus #9 at Hyde Park Corner to go to Philimore Gardens for Whits. I had made reservations for this place based on great reviews. This is a French restaurant and the food was top notch.

Although we could have walked back to our hotel, we were tired so we took bus #49 for the short ride back to our hotel for the evening.

NEXT: REMNANTS OF HURRICANE BIRTHA VISITS LONDON AND GETS US SOAKED.
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Old Aug 27th, 2014, 07:03 PM
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Cathinjoetown--I forgot to ask--How did your husband like growing up in Letchworth? Has it changed much since his childhood?
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Old Aug 28th, 2014, 03:03 AM
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In all my rambling above, I forgot to mention that the Letchworth day was one of our missed opportunities to visit the British Library since the library is close to Kings Cross station. I had originally planned on visiting either before or after Letchworth which would place us near Kings Cross station or the Bletchly Park day which would place us at Euston station and we didn't get there either day.

In the morning we slept late. We were on vacation after all! So by the time we got to the station and waited on the long queue, it was time to board the First Capital Connect train and no time for the library. Then we ended up spending the rest of the day at Letchworth rather than just a few hours and by the time we got back, the library was closed. The same thing happened on our Bletchley day too. Therefore, the British Library remains on my list for the next time! You never have enough time to see/do it all.
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