Rockin' Down The Highway(The Doobie Brothers) - Southwick Near Portsmouth to Maidstone,Kent - 30th July 2016

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July 30th 2016
Published: August 2nd 2016
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The English summer has disappeared on us and it looks like we will have a drive today that will have some rain in the mix. Never mind we wouldn’t really want to change what has been just an OK summer for the BBA V3.

After breakfast we sorted out a place to have a family photo with Jean and Stella and then we were on our way to Maidstone in Kent.

It has been a lovely two days staying with them and for us we have had someone other than each other to talk to.

Although the horizon was a bit hazy we took a stop at the parking area we had passed by a couple of times yesterday just to take in what the multitudes of passengers in their cars were looking at.

The view was out over Portsmouth and because of the height we were at it was expansive and just a shame the horizon wasn’t a bit clearer.

There is a semi permanent takeaway caravan parked up and even on a Saturday morning there were a dozen or so cars parked with the passengers getting coffees and looking out at the view. When we passed by here at night there must have been 100+ cars in the car park and we would have been stretched to find a vacant spot.

We had the GPS(our Serena from home)set on the easiest route but Gretchen had to overrule her when she wanted to take us down a very narrow lane as we were looking to get onto the A272 which would take us east for nearly half of the drive. We hope this isn’t a start of what we sometimes experienced with Gina in the Peugeot.

As we moved onto the A272 light rain started to fall and it was pleasing to note that the problem with the Skoda’s wiper blades appears to have been fixed by the removal of whatever it was under the blade this morning before we started. We had been sure that a car with only 4000 miles on the clock shouldn’t have had worn wiper blades.

We passed into West Sussex and the South Downs National Park. The area has been given a Park status but is well populated with small villages at regular intervals on the A272 with farming the main activity.

Every so often the two lane road, on which we managed speeds at up to 80kph, would narrow and there would be perhaps a one lane stone bridge controlled by traffic lights. The old bridge is in keeping with the atmosphere of driving this ‘A’ road and it is good to see that the roads people haven’t taken away that old world flavour by replacing the probably centuries old bridge with a bland concrete structure.

We maintained our direction east just before we reached The Weald when we turned northeast. The Weald which means ‘forested’ is a feature of the landscape across Sussex and into Kent and has higher and lower parts to it. The hard sandstone rock formation of the higher parts is unusual to this part of England.

There looked to be plenty of rural walking trails that left from car parks on the A26 which we had now changed to and we might have given one of them a try had it not been still raining lightly. We didn’t think getting wet and then having to drive on further was an attractive idea.

We have decided that the roads people in Britain could with a marketing campaign on them by the Wet and Forget from NZ such are the state of the road signs. No one seems to care that the originally painted white backgrounds are now green with grunge often making them hard to read!

The road took us through Royal Tunbridge Wells a town with a name that has always interested me. However the parts we saw have changed my mind and what we passed through looked a bit run down. I think the image in my mind was a town of large mansions with beautiful gardens and perhaps it does have a part to it that equals my thinking but we didn’t find it.

The light rain was still falling so we continued on our way towards Maidstone.

We don’t have cooking facilities or a fridge at the Days Inn just off the M20 a short distance out of Maidstone so our shopping for supplies at this stage was just essentials for breakfast tomorrow morning.

The Days Inn was situated in one of the huge rest areas that have been created at regular intervals on the main highways. At this one there was also a petrol station plus 4 different restaurants including a MacDonald’s and the car park was full of people coming and going. We deduced this rest area was probably a handy location if you were about to cross the English Channel for a stop before continuing the journey and the same if you had come across from the continent and then needed to head further afield to get home in the UK.

The room in the Days Inn had recently been refurbished and was a good size double and just a bit better appointed than the Travelodge’s we have stayed at on past trips.

The restaurants on offer across the way from the hotel were all busy and they were quite noisy so we opted to drive a few kilometres to a local pub, The Dog and Bear, at Lenham, a small market village. The place was busy which usually means the pub has good food to bring back the patrons but we were found a table for two and ordered our meals along with a pint of locally brewed beer from Whitstable a town on the coast not too far away.

I would have to say that the Spitfire Ale pie with gravy, chips and peas was one of the best pies I have ever tasted while Gretchen’s ham, eggs and chips was very satisfying for her too.

We took a stroll along the short main street admiring the centuries old buildings still in use today as a wine shop, fish and chip shop etc.

There was a plaque telling a little bit of the history of buildings in the village, which is mentioned in the Doomsday Book, that were destroyed in air raids during WW2 and then as we returned to the car we passed a very solid brick building with a plaque that said the building had been used as an air raid shelter during WW2.

We drove back to the Days Inn very satisfied with our second meal in a row out at an English Pub. If we keep this up we will both be certainly signing up for the gym when we get home at the end of August.

Tomorrow we plan to drive to Canterbury to visit the cathedral and then return home via the seaside towns of Margate and Whitstable.

PS:not one of the Doobie Brothers best songs but still plenty of toe tapping,highway memories.Enjoy on Youtube.


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