Craig and Ross in Europe/UK

September 8th 2010
Published: September 8th 2010
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Wednesday September 8, 2010
Episode 5 (I think): Southern England

Greetings from England. We flew from Amsterdam to London Gatwick then picked up a hire car. After driving in circles for about 20 minutes, we finally got out of the Gatwick airport area and headed East, bound for Canterbury. Ross has been doing an excellent job driving, given the umfamiliar car and road conditions, however, he has had a masterful navigator.

In Canterbury, we checked into the Falstaff hotel (named after my fave Shakespearian character, the drunken rotund Falstaff). It was charming, with low ceilings and exposed timber beams etc. Canterbury is the site of the world heritage lised Gothic Cathedral, which was awesome. It is, of course, the seat of Christianity in England, and where the Archbishop Thomas Beckett was slain by the King's henchmen in 1170, hence becoming a martyr. There are also lots of Tutor style houses here, which Ross loves. He is indeed enjoying his "special" birthday trip.

A horrid culturte shock befell us when we arrived here in England when we stopped at a local pub. I asked for the local Kent beer, and she proudly suggested " Spitfire". A poster on the wall proclaimed:
"Spitfire beer. Downed by more Britons than the Luftwaffe."
If so, then their taste is in their proverbial, since this lowly excuse for an ale was incredibly bitter , warm and complete shite! I guess we were truly spoilt in Belguim and Amsterdam. (Steve has polished me into a true beer connisuer now). In contrast, an alcoholic ginger beer brewed in Scotland and served chilled with ice was very nice. That night, we found a pub in town that was a "Wetherspoon" pub, a chain that Steve had told us was very good for cheap and god quality food. He was spot on, as always. We got a Sunday night special of a "roast dinner and a beer" for 5 pounds each.

We went on a day trip to Leeds Castle (near Canterbury, not up North in Leeds). It was outstanding. It is a quintessential romantic medieval castle, with moat and vast estate. The castle was used in the medieval times by various queens, and apprently King Henry VIII passed through at one point with a huge entourage en route to France. His party was carrying lots of food supplies, which included 400 cows, 200 pigs, 1300 chickens.....and 3 porpoises and a dolphin (presumably already dead !) Leeds castle passed into the hands on a rich hieress , Lady Baillie, in the 19th and 20th centuries, and was turned into a lavish palace. All the rooms were beautiful and full of fascinating info on medieval and more recent occupation. The castle also included on the grounds a falconary/birds display ( a highlight of the birds show being 4 white storks flying in from behind us), a hedge maize and the worlds largest collection of dog collars, from medieval times to present. Dog collars were originally used as broad metal bands to protect the throats of dogs from the bears, wolves and boar that roamed Europe and England at that time. Some of the more recent bejewlled canine neckware was very amusing.

We drove from Canterbury bound for Brighton. We drove past pretty villages and rustic country pubs, one of which was called "Sould've Stopped At That Pub." The Lonely Planet sung the praises of a small town called Rye, perched on a rocky outcrop and lost in time. We stopped and explored - it was great, with more medieval style houses and cobble stone streets than you could shake a peasant at. Many are now shops selling antiques and all sorts of wonderful stuff (Mum and Patty, you would have loved it). Then we drove on to something that I was really looking forward to - the sheer white chalk cliff of Beachy Head and Birling Gap. Forget the White Cliffs of Dover, these are much more spectacular. They were truly beautiful, and the sun was shining , making them dazzling white.

We pressed on to Brighton ,arriving late arvo when the sun was shining brightly across the sea and Brighton pier. We walked out along the peir, where it was warm enough for T-shirts. Brighton is a thriving cosmopolitan city with a strong Bohemian feel. There are some really goovy shops here. It also has a large gay population, with lots of pubs, cafes ,etc. , and we were staying in the heart of it. We took ourselves last night to a local drag show, which was highly amusing. A duo was on stage and one said to the other:
"Stop saying I'm old and hagged. I'm gorgeous darling. Would'nt you love to sleep with me?"
The other said
" Certainly not, I have a dust allergy."
Unlike in Australia, the drag queens here actually sing (not mime), often substituting the words, with hilarious consequencess.

Well, thats more than enough. Today is a rest day for us here in Brighton. Then it's off to Salisbury/Stonehenge area in a few days.
Love to all
Craig and Ross


9th September 2010

Lucky ducks!
Hi Guys, Gee, I'm finding it hard to keep up with you jetsetters! Can't believe you bastards had a Chimay Blue in Belgium. Probably the best beer ever brewed in the history of beer brewing!! Interested to know what you paid for it over there. Cost me about $23 the other day for a long neck and a carton of the good stuff will set you back about $170 :( Good to here your having a great time, once again look forward to catching up and seeing some photo's. Take care, Rodd, Rach and the boys.

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