Well, here we are at Little Roodee car park in Chester. Kampington has visited Little Roodee a few times now and will no doubt be visiting often over the next few months, so this means we’re as good as home (which we will be tomorrow….. not overly keen but I suppose the post does need to be opened once or twice a year…).
We crossed the channel on Thursday morning and noted a definite change since our last crossing. Mark had spotted an industry magazine in the loo at the garage last week which had the “situation” at Calais on the front page. Sure enough, things have certainly changed since 2013. When we left Cité Europe on Wednesday afternoon having done our shopping, the road crossed a bridge over the approach to the channel tunnel. We saw groups of young males loitering by the side of our road looking down on the queue of lorries trundling very slowly towards the tunnel. I spotted one chap crouched down running alongside the lorries alongside the barrier in the neighbouring field. Then as we passed, one lad stood on the bank pointed down (presumably having decided the time was right) and a whole group started scampering down towards the lorries below…..
The next morning, having spent the night in the car park at the port, we went to check in for our ferry. The queue seemed to be moving very very slowly. Then we saw what was happening – the French police were checking every single vehicle. The boot of every car was opened. When they got to Kampington, the trailer had to be opened (with Mark having to snip the tell-tale cable ties he’d put on the bottom bolts and put new ones on later). Dibble then came to Kampington to check the inside. I had to lift the cupboard tops on the sofa and even the chairs so he could check no-one was hiding underneath (presumably some of these people are contortionists!). French Plod clearly didn’t think I was hiding anyone as he was then happy for me to stick my head into the bathroom myself and confirm to him that no-one was hiding in the shower…….. I started asking questions but we got waved through by customs too quickly in the end, before I’d extracted all the info….. Yes, they were just looking for would-be illegal immigrants that had hidden themselves in vehicles, and yes, they did often find them. 17 last year (at this point we were waved though, before I could find out whether this was him personally? The French police? The French police and British customs? Just the port or the tunnel as well? How many in lorries and how many in cars? I shall save my unanswered questions for next time).
Anyway, on arrival in the UK we set off along the South coast, having arranged to spend the night outside Mark’s Auntie and Uncle’s house at East Preston between Brighton and Portsmouth. We visited Rye en route, which turned out the be very picturesque.
We also stopped at Battle and had a walk along a path that we supposed was through the battlefield (there were no information boards) We later found a town map marked the neighbouring field as the battlefield. We are taking the view that battles presumably weren’t restricted to specific fields back in 1066 so the bit of grass we stared at probably was relevant….. To be fair to Battle, I get the impression that all of the information is to be found in the Abbey (which was, as you may have guessed, closed for the winter). We shall have to revisit another time….
We had a very enjoyable visit to Keith & Wen’s house on Thursday evening before retiring to Kampington…..
On Friday we continued on our way. We stopped off at an industrial estate near Poole; I had sent a couple of emails to different outfits re solar panels in recent weeks. One installer from Lancashire was crossed off the list pretty much immediately but the one near Poole did send coherent replies and offer useful suggestions / information, so I wanted to stop off and get him to look at Kampington (so there could be no “oh, well, I know I said it’d be this much but I didn’t know that……. ” and so that we could check out that the bloke and the premises existed and looked kosher). All seemed fine – we await a final quote…….
We continued on to a campsite near Stonehenge for 2 nights (2 nights being handy as we can leave the trailer behind and go out for the day), visiting both Stonehenge and Avebury on Saturday.
From there, we had two nights on a camp site near Coventry as Mark wanted to visit the Transport Museum. There was a lot of work going on, so we didn’t get to see as much as we expected – another place to revisit at some point!
Anyway, it was a lovely museum where the modern audiovisuals actually added to the experience. My highlights? Well, the thing I really liked but wouldn’t want to own was a 6-seater bicycle….. ingenious…..
The “car I’d choose” award could’ve gone to a 2010 Jaguar concept car (the front end was nice but the back end had been parked against a wall for good reason) but in the end had to go to a very cute 1927 Austin Swallow.
As for Mark, he was enthralled to see the actual motorbike Ted Simon rode round the World on in 1974 (immortalised in the book “Jupiters Travels” I’m told).
I couldn’t work out why the neighbouring exhibit wasn’t much more impressive – the bike a bloke called Stanley rode round the World on in 1928 no less…… I guess this must just go to prove that I know nowt about motorbikes…..
There was also a very good World Speed Record exhibit…
Today we drove up to Chester stopping off to look at the very attractive St Oswalds church in Lower Peover on the way.
Three months have flown by and we’ve now pretty much reached the end of our little winter trip to Spain and Portugal. We’ll be home tomorrow, albeit with plenty of plans for further trips in Kampington……..