Saturday 30th April, 2005
Sunday, 1st May, 2005
Monday 2nd May, 2005
Tuesday, 3rd May, 2005
Wednesday 4th May, 2005
Thursday 5th May, 2005
Friday 6th May, 2005

Saturday 30th April, 2005

Drop Cap e had a very easy run to Sussex today in beautiful warm sunny weather. We started off in Devon, traversed Dorset and Hampshire with their lovely thatched cottages and inns, West Sussex, where we caught a glimpse of spectacular Arundel Castle, to East Sussex. We saw more buildings today, I think, than at any other time in the last three weeks.

Caravan exterior photograph

Our Caravan, Honey's Green Park, East Sussex

Drop Cap e found Honey's Green Caravan Park much more easily than I had expected. It is very small, compared with Harford Bridge and has nothing like the facilities. The van is quite spacious, two double bedrooms (and the main one has lots of storage space). The park is very muddy underfoot but hopefully it will dry out a bit with some fine weather.

Caravan Interior photograph

The Lounge Area, Our Caravan

Drop Cap he living room of the van has large stuffed armchairs and a sofa, an extendable table and four dining chairs and lots of cupboards and shelves.
The fridge is very small and has little freezer space but there is a microwave as well as a good gas stove and a good range of cookware.

We have lots to see in this area, with our Heritage cards and without, so we must plan.

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Sunday, 1st May, 2005

Drop Cap ay Day! Another fine and sunny day, even getting very warm this afternoon.

Battle photograph

Mac on the audio trail, Battle Abbey, Sussex

Drop Cap e headed off at about 10:00 to Battle Abbey, the site arguably the most significant in the country, the Battle of Hastings, 1066.

Battle Dairy photograph

Thatched Dairy, Battle Abbey

Drop Cap he Abbey was built by William the Conqueror to atone for all the deaths during the battle and is quite impressive. Most of the Abbey remains are now used for a school but there is a very interesting walk around the battlefield and the Abbey ruins with an audio visual wand.

Geoff in Armour photograph

Geoff in 11th Century Chain Mail, Battle Abbey

  Drop Cap n the Gift Shop attached to Battle Abbey they had a complete set of 11th Century style chain mail which they were remarkably willing to take off the dummy it was displayed on and to allow Geoff to try it on. He said it was surprisingly comfortable and not too heavy but we would not let him buy it! Spoil sport parents!

Drop Cap e had lunch in a pizza/pasta place in Battle and then went on cross country to Bodiam Castle.

Bodiam Castle photograph

Bodiam Castle, Sussex

Drop Cap his is a hugely picturesque moated castle which is really everyone's idea of a moated medieval castle. It is a ruin, but the walls are largely intact, with high towers still climbable (by the able bodied). The moat had lily pads, ducks, frogs, incredibly noisy in the wetlands and HUGE carp. I heard one woman ask if the ducks bothered the fish. It seems more likely to me that the fish would bother the ducks!

Bodiam Castle Interior photograph

Inside the Walls, Bodiam Castle, Sussex

Morris Dancers photograph

Rabble, on May Day, Bodiam Castle

Drop Cap hile we were there we got a real bonus! A troupe of morris type dancers, who called themselves "Rabble", in green rags, black faces and bells on their shoes, accompanied by "Jack in the Green", all covered in leaves. They were playing drums, flutes and concertinas and danced several folk dances with gusto and much thwacking of sticks. We expected the "Stick and Bucket Dance" any minute.

They were celebrating May Day and the start of Spring.

It is the sort of British eccentricity which we would love to experience, but have never been able to until today. It was a great end to a lovely day.

Bodiam Castle photograph

Picturesque Bodiam Castle, Sussex

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Monday 2nd May, 2005

Drop Cap lthough I heard it raining quite heavily during the night, it dawned another warm and sunny day.

Batemans photograph

Batemans, Rudyard Kipling's House, East Sussex

Drop Cap e had planned another Heritage card day (we have already saved some 90 odd pounds between us) and headed off first for Bateman's.

Pear Arbour photograph

The Pear Arbour at Batemans, East Sussex

Drop Cap his is the former home of famous poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling and is quite lovely, surrounded by serene and beautiful gardens. The house is 17th Century and is furnished as the Kiplings had it, with a really good exhibition of Kipling memorabilia. It is now owned by the National Trust. We really enjoyed it.

Drop Cap e had lunch there in the NT tearoom, not a howling success but OK, then took the road for Hever Castle, which was quite complicated with very busy roads as people headed home from their long Bank Holiday weekend.

Hever Castle photograph

Hever Castle with Mayday Crowds,East Sussex

Drop Cap nfortunately, when we arrived at Hever the place was packed. There was a 45 minute wait to go inside the castle and Merrie Mayday revels in the grounds so lots of people. Also the Yew Maze was closed due to wet weather (muddy underfoot). So it was a bit of a swizz, really. We're glad we had the card, because we would have been really upset paying over nine pounds and then not being able to see anything. Maybe we can get back another day.

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Tuesday, 3rd May, 2005

Drop Cap oday was misty to start but was turning warm and sunny when we headed for Brighton. By the time we got to Brighton the sky was dark and the first rain was falling through the strong on shore wind.

Brighton Royal Pavilion photograph

Royal Pavilion, Brighton, East Sussex

Drop Cap e parked in a parking station and headed off for the Royal Pavilion. This glorious mish-mash of Oriental cultures is still as rampantly over the top as ever and Geoff loved it, as I was sure he would. We wandered through the Banqueting Room, the wonderful dragon chandelier and huge domed ceiling, passed through into the cavernous kitchens with their huge collection of copper utensils and the French menu for one dinner, with 36 courses!

Brighton Pier photograph

Brighton Pier, East Sussex

Drop Cap e had a Burger King lunch on the seafront and then went out on the Palace Pier where we wandered to the end and wandered back again. My feet had given out by the time we walked back to the car park and the weather still looked dingy.

Brighton photograph

Brighton from the Pier, East Sussex

Drop Cap y the time we got back to Uckfield to do some shopping at Tesco's it was blue sky, warm and sunny. Crazy! I think Brighton has its own weather pattern. Last time we went there it was also atrocious, wind, rain, the lot.

Dover tomorrow, I think.

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Wednesday 4th May, 2005

Drop Cap p early and off to Dover. It is about eighty miles, I suppose, and Geoff navigated us through, very well.

Dover Castle photograph

Dover Castle from the Battlements, East Sussex

Drop Cap e parked at Dover Castle and immediately went off to tour the (no longer) secret World War II tunnels. These have been extended (or at least the exhibited area has been) with a rather harrowing visit to the hospital tunnels, with bloodstained stretchers and operating tables. Instead of taking 75 steps down a spiral staircase to the operations tunnel, I claimed infirmity and took the lift. It was very interesting though.

Trebuchet photograph

Medieval Trebuchet, Dover Castle, East Sussex

Drop Cap fter this we struggled through the icy wind and rain along the Battlements Walk to the Keep, built by King Henry II in the 12th Century. We went through the display on the Siege of Dover in King John's time, 1216,which was very interesting. I didn't know that the French had actually invaded England and did so well that only Dover and Windsor Castles held them off.

Dover Throne photograph

Throne, Henry VIII Display, Dover Castle


Drop Cap hen we went into the Keep, which was decorated as for a Royal Visit by Henry VIII. Last time we were here there was none of this stuff, just the bare walls. My knees were giving out and so I did not go up to the roof, but Mac and Geoff did.

Drop Cap o finish off we visited the Museum of the Princess of Wales' Regiments. This was surprisingly well done with displays and tableaux.

Drop Cap hen we left we did a coastal drive via Romney (Old and New), Hythe and Dymchurch where we saw the Martello Towers and stopped for a hot dog (Geoff) and hot chocolates in a noisy electronic games arcade.

The sky was fairly clear when we returned to Honey's Green. Sunshine capital of Britain!

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Thursday 5th May, 2005

Drop Cap olling Day! The Brits go to vote - according to one news broadcast apathy is widespread.

Fishbourne Roman Palace Mosaic photograph

One of the Mosaic Floors at Fishbourne Roman Palace, West Sussex

Drop Cap e headed west this morning, after an icy night and early morning, to Fishbourne Roman Palace, passing the lovely castle of Arundel and Chichester Cathedral on the way. Mac and I have, of course, been here before, but they are still excavating and the site is very interesting for the mosaics and the lovely courtyard garden, which they were able to reproduce owing to the bedding trenches still being in place with the soil and much still identifiable.

Bathhouse body? photograph

The Body in the Bathhouse? Fishbourne, West Sussex

Drop Cap lso, being fans of the Falco books by Lindsay Davis, we know that Fishbourne is the site described in The Body in the Bathhouse.

Weald and Downland Museum photograph

The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, West Sussex

Drop Cap hen we left here we had lunch at a Tesco's Superstore in Chichester, surprisingly good, really, then headed north for the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum. This was great, the same basic premise as Beamish in Durham. They rescue very old buildings from around the county and put them up again, restored if necessary, in this lovely open air park.

Tollgate photograph

Tollhouse and Gate, Weald and Downland Museum, West Sussex

Drop Cap hey have ancient thatched barns, little cottages, a school, some farm and artisan's buildings, a toll-house and gate and a mill complete with waterwheel which grinds flour every day and sells it.

Windpump photograph

Wimdpump, Weald and Downland Museum, West Sussex

Drop Cap e didn't see the lot, but what we did see was good. There was a lake with ducks and moorfowl. One duck had 13 ducklings while a poor little moorhen had only one fluffy black chick. The miller lady said that there had been a tragedy, two of the little moorfowl chicks had gone over the waterwheel and could not be rescued.

Drop Cap e drove home through lovely country, interspersed with busy villages. I haven't said much about the country but it is lovely - sweeping green downland with vivid yellow fields of rape (canola) contrasting with it. Deep green avenues of old trees meeting overhead, sheets of bluebells in the woods and the side of the roads. It makes you realise you are in England, and understand the poets' raptures about Spring. We have such little Spring, it tends to leap straight into summer in Australia.

The day got sunnier and warmer by the minute and it turned out to be a lovely day. Long may it continue!

Drop Cap e decided to have dinner at the large Indian restaurant a couple of miles from here so as to give us more time tomorrow to pack and clean. It was nice and spicy and we had a bottle of Mateus.

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Friday 6th May, 2005

Drop Cap nother lovely sunny, warm day (especially for Tony Blair, whose party won the election)

Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway photograph

Turntable, Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, East Sussex

Drop Cap e headed off the same way as for Dover but exited the motorway at Hythe, where we easily found the station for the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch mini steam railway, beside the Military Canal.

Dungeness Lighthouse photograph

Lighthouse, Dungeness, East Sussex

Drop Cap e bought return tickets to Dungeness and had morning tea while we waited. The little train, (11 inch gauge) is so cute. We rattled through Dymchurch, St. Mary's Bay, and New Romney to Dungeness, site of two nuclear power stations which look like sets from Blake's 7 and a couple of lighthouses, the Lifeboat base and some fishing shacks. We just had time for lunch there before heading back again (it's an hour and a half each way). We really didn't want to wait for the next one.

Rye photograph

Mermaid Street, Rye, East Sussex

Drop Cap fter our return to Hythe we headed down the road in the same general direction, heading for Rye, the hugely scenic little town with houses and inns which date from the 13th and 14th centuries.

Rye photograph

Mermaid Street, Rye, East Sussex

Ypres Tower photograph

Ypres Tower, Rye, East Sussex

Drop Cap e toiled up the cobbled streets to the Ypres Tower, which once defended Rye when it was a harbour. The gun park there with cannons pointing in the general direction of the sea pointed this up.

Gun Garden photograph

Gun Garden, below the Ypres Tower, Rye

Drop Cap e walked back down to have afternoon tea before our parking ticket ran out (a nice gentleman in the car park gave us his which still had an hour and a half to run - the second time this has happened. Back in Hay on Wye, a guy gave us his ticket when he was leaving. Illegal, but who cares). Then we headed home.

Drop Cap t has been a lovely day. Generally, I think in the five weeks we have been here, we have had more good weather than bad, or at least days when it did not actually rain!

Tomorrow we head off for East Anglia - hope the navigator is up to it. He has been really good, so far though.

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