We took delivery of our newly converted Volkswagen van on Friday, converted by CJ Van Designs. We needed somewhere for a test run. The weather did not look too good for the next week, so decided we should try somewhere near a town where we could shelter from the likely rain. A search of the open sites owned by the Camping and Caravanning Club brought up the Canterbury Campsite. Just outside of Canterbury near to a highly convenient bus stop with a regular service. We had quickly joined the club to take advantage of the discount on the booking and set out on Monday around the north side of the M25, a superb motorway, running with no congestion. Across the Queen Elizabeth bridge (must remember to pay the £3 toll).
Arrived at the campsite at 1.30pm, checked in, set up the camper and then caught the bus into Canterbury. We never waited more than 10 minutes for a passing bus. We had a brief look around and ended up in Tiny Tim’s Tearoom for tea and scones. Excellent scones, baked on the premises. We did not go for the full tea with sandwiches, scones, cakes and fizzy wine. Upstairs there is a ghost room. Back to the campsite, after a quick visit to Waitrose to buy some JD and humus. We toasted our van in champagne courtesy of CJ Van Designs. Our first supper was a can of French sausages and lentils which I washed down with the JD. The van was kept warm with the aid of a fan heater. Empty wellies, we discovered, make ideal bottle holders.
Next day dawned, breakfasted on cereal and then into Canterbury. We started with a walking tour of the city which centred on the area around the cathedral. We heard many amusing anecdotes from the history of Canterbury, such as how the pilgrims on seeing the Cathedral gates would force their horses to trot a little faster, hence the word “canter”. A light lunch and drink in a local pub named the The Old Buttermarket before we set off to explore the Cathedral. The outside had a large amount of scaffolding (which the tour guide had said was pretty much always the case). The inside had even more, with the whole of the Nave ceiling obscured by scaffolding which was just being erected. The above ground crypt was (or so R says) wonderfully peaceful.
Finally we went back to Tiny Tim’s for more tea and cake. Bought a couple of DVDs (from a charity shop) before catching a bus back to the campsite for a light supper & DVD watch.
Next day we went off in the van to the Elmley National Nature Reserve. Immediately on entry we saw masses of Coots and and Lapwing. The drive in to the site is two miles, and you can stop, using your vehicle as a hide, while watching the wild life all along the road. Close to the road edge we spotted a magnificent large Hare, indeed it was a March Hare. Parked the car at the farm and walked to the first of four hides which is more than a mile walk. Curlew were spotted & heard on the walk, along with duck, Dunlin and Golden Plover. There probably were some Grey Plover as well. At the hide we watched hundreds of Dunlin land on a small island in the lake. They made a spectacular show when they flew off. We walked back to the car, getting there just in time to miss the rain.
We then made a quick tour around the Isle of Sheppey, visiting Sheerness. Sorry the place is the pits with huge sea walls keeping back any seaviews. Home for a meal of French Duck Confit. Meat and no vegetables, yes, we hadn’t read the label properly.
Next day we packed up (much faster than stashing a tent) and left, driving to Rochester to visit the castle. Parking was the pits, so gave up in disgust and searched out a National Trust property to visit instead. Ended up driving to Ightham Mote. The house was not yet open, but the cafe and gardens were. Lunch and a walk around the grounds. Reasonable lunch and the grounds were pretty good as well. Back home around the southern stretch of the M25. Again pretty free flowing.