Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset
Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Sunday, 28 August 2016

More travels in Kent

For the past couple of weeks, we've been blessed with some very fine weather. So me and Twinkle (the smallest of my bikes) have been out roaming around Romney Marsh. Therefore, there are several updates to the Kent page.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Shoreham Airport, West Sussex

Shoreham Airport for lunch? Don't mind if I do!
Shoreham Airport is a lovely place. Set in the valley of the River Adur, and overlooked by the magnificent edifice that is Lancing College, it is almost too pretty a location for something as mundane as a working airport.

The terminal building is a graceful Art Deco monument, and is preserved both inside and out, still painted white, and still fitted with the original Crittall windows. 

Walking in through the front entrance, behind the memorial garden, you are greeted with a perfect Art Deco vestibule. Look up at the ceiling, and admire the moulded plaster and the moderne chandelier, before turning into the Hummingbird restaurant.

The food is very, very good, and afterwards you can take your post-prandial coffee out onto the terrace and watch the planes and helicopters going about their business. From here, although you can see the busy A27 road, you can barely hear it.

When you leave, at the end of Almond Lane, turn right. It's a dead-end road, which leaves to the old bridge across the Adur, which has become a memorial to the people who died in the Air Show crash in 2015. 

Monday, 4 July 2016

At last.............

Well, the rain let up today, and in beautiful sunshine I headed out on the bike to explore parts of Kent I'd never visited before.
Therefore, the Kent page has had a couple of updates.
Here's to more sunny days this year, and forthcoming trips to Devon and North Wales.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Christmas Time, Birmingham & Gluhwein

Birmingham, our second city, is a magical place at Christmas. Every year, a Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) comes over from Frankfurt in Germany. Local craft stalls are added to the market, which now numbers nearly two hundred stalls.
It stretches from New Street, through the main shopping area outside the railway station, through Victoria Square and Paradise Circus, right into Centenary Square, where it joins a temporary ice skating rink and a Big Wheel.
Add to this, the Christmas lights, and it is a spectacle of colour, music, food and crafts.

'Brasso', the wonderful bull at the heart of the Bullring Shopping Centre, sporting his Christmas Elf look

The Christmas tree outside St. Martin's church, at the bottom of the Bullring

the revamped New Street Station, and the Grand Central shopping plaza

the lights in New Street, and the Frankfurt revolving bar, a main feature every year

the Big Wheel outside Symphony Hall in Centenary Square

Next year, the work will have finished in Paradise Circus, and the display will be bigger and even better

Friday, 23 October 2015

Village and Pub Signs

This new article will be a bit of a slow burner to start with, as I've only just realised that I've been missing a great opportunity to expand on places and their history. This is a random collection of village and inn signs, with an explanation of their meaning and heritage, where possible.


Winchelsea (East Sussex)
Winchelsea is often described as the smallest town in Britain to have its own Mayor. Although the Mayor and Corporation lost their civil and judicial powers in 1886, the formal structures were preserved by an Act of Parliament in order to maintain the town's membership of the Confederation of Cinque Ports. They retain both a ceremonial role and responsibility for a number of the ancient monuments of the townIn the 11th century five towns in the south east of England, namely Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich, banded together in a confederation designed for mutual protection, for coastal defence and for the furtherance of their trade. The King used them in certain ways - a packet boat service - perhaps even as early as the reign of Edward the Confessor, for which they were paid, not in cash but by the granting of certain privileges, most of which had a financial value. The duties and the privileges of the five ports grew with the years and their heyday came in the thirteenth century, by which time the "Ancient Towns" of Winchelsea and Rye had been added to their number. The title "Cinque Ports" remained although there were now seven head ports.The sign depicts the badge of the Cinque Ports Confederation

Yalding (Kent)
The Invicta motto and the white horse is the emblem of Kent. 
To commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, a new village sign was commissioned by Yalding Parish Council. It depicts all that is good about the village of Yalding and the Parish. Family life, the village blacksmith, church, river, medieval bridge and of course Kentish hops, are all there.

Sissinghurst (Kent)
This giant penny farthing was originally erected on the nearby Wilsey Pound roundabout for the Tour de France which travelled through Sissinghurst on 8th July 2007.
The sign depicts Sissinghurst Castle

High Halden (Kent)
The sign depicts the village church of St. Mary

Goudhurst (Kent)
The sign incorporates the Kent invicta (middle top), an oast house (middle bottom) and down the two sides are apples, hops, cherries and pears - to indicate the Garden of England and the many orchards  in the area

Biddenden (Kent)
on the village green stands a most attractive sign, carved and painted by a local crafts man, of a pair of twins, known as the Biddenden Maids.

According to tradition The Biddenden Maids were twin sisters that were born in 1100, joined at the shoulders and hips.
The story describes how Elisa and Mary Chulkhurst who lived in this condition for 34 years, when one of them died.

The other, refusing, or more likely, it being impossible for her to be separated from her sisters body, died shortly afterwards.
Local records show that for over 400 years income gained from 20 acres of land, Believed to have been bequeathed by two sisters, and had been used for the benefit of the poor of the parish.
Once a year Bread and Cheese and are given to local widows and pensioners at the Old Workhouse,
Biddenden Biscuits, baked from flour and water, are distributed among the spectators as souvenirs, They bear an effigy of two female figures whose bodies are joined together at the hips and shoulders.


The Cat & Fiddle (Derbyshire)
The Cat & Fiddle is the 2nd highest pub in England, situated between Buxton & Macclesfield in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales and High Peak. It stands at the highest point of the Cat & Fiddle pass, much loved by motorcyclists

Jamaica Inn (Cornwall)
Located just off the A30, near the middle of Bodmin moor close to the hamlet of Bolventor, it was used as a staging post for changing horses. The inn is alleged to be one of the most haunted places in Great Britain. Daphne du Maurier wrote her novel in 1930 when, having gone horse riding on the moors, she became lost in thick fog and sought refuge at the inn. During the time spent recovering from her ordeal, the local rector is said to have entertained her with ghost stories and tales of smuggling; he would later become the inspiration for the enigmatic character of the Vicar of Altarnun, a nearby hamlet.

The Angel (Norfolk)
The Angel at Larling is a 17th. century coaching inn, which stands on a loop of the old A11 road to Norwich. It is now completely bypassed, and stands alone within sight of the new road. Not that I'm biased by it belonging to a friend, Andrew Stammers, but the accommodation and food are hard to beat in any part of the country!

Identifying your place

I have found, during my travels, that many villages have beautiful village signs, relevant to the place or the area.
I have photographed some of them as part of this travel blog, but I'm now resolved to picture many more, and to give them their own section.
Then I thought, with so many pubs and inns closing down, and so many having curious names that are also relevant, it might be a good idea to include some of them before they totally disappear.
I don't mean the modern, stupid ones (e.g The Pitcher And Piano), but those that commemorate an actual event or person.

So I think I've got the spare time.............................

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Here comes Summer!

Well, at least Spring.
Today it was sunny, if still a little chilly, so I decided it was time to kick off my 2015 touring and photographing local places of interest tour.
Today it was mostly just riding round to decide what I wanted to include, although I did stop briefly in West Malling to photograph the Cascade at St. Mary's Abbey.
I will pay this pretty little town a proper visit at a later date though, as there is a lot to see.
Pictures of the Cascade and St. Mary's Abbey have thus been added to the Kent page

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Sussex on a sunny September day

Because we're barely 20 miles from the border of Kent with East Sussex, I spend almost as much time riding there as I do in my home county.
Today's little jaunt took me right down through 1066 Country, to some of the most historically important places in the county.

Town named after Battle Abbey, which stands in the centre of the town. The abbey was built overlooking the scene of the Battle of Hastings and dedicated to St. Martin. The battle itself took place at Senlac.
In 1070 Pope Alexander II ordered the Normans to do penance for killing so many people during their conquest of England. So William the Conqueror vowed to build an abbey where the Battle of Hastings had taken place, with the high altar of its church on the supposed spot where King Harold fell in that battle on Saturday, 14 October 1066. He did start building it, dedicating it to St. Martin, sometimes known as "the Apostle of the Gauls," though William died before it was completed. Its church was finished in about 1094 and consecrated during the reign of his son William Rufus.
Although ruined during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the impressive gatehouse is a magnificent centrepiece to the little town.

The town itself is well worth a wander round, with its pretty buildings and plentiful shops and cafes. 

Also worth a visit is the Yesterday's World, museum of shops, which stands across the road from the Abbey ruins. Expect plentiful cries of 'My Mum had one of those!' and 'Ooh I remember them!'


Well, Pevensey Castle actually.
Beginning in the 4th century as one of the last and strongest of the Roman 'Saxon Shore' forts, two-thirds of whose towered walls still stand. It was the landing place of William the Conqueror's army in 1066. During the century after the Conquest a full-scale Norman castle, with a great square keep and a powerful gatehouse, was built within one corner of the fort. In the 1250s the towered bailey wall was constructed, and soon put to the test during the great siege of 1264.
Although in ruins, the site is huge, and there's plenty to look at.


Winchelsea is one of those small places that has benefitted by being by-passed at quite an early stage. The tortuous hill that carried most of the traffic between Hastings and Rye around the outside of the town, has meant that the old structure of the town has been preserved.
Founded in 1288 by Edward I, it lies about a mile inland from the current coastline, approximately two miles from Rye and seven miles from Hastings.
The town was laid out in a grid pattern of streets, as is clearly still visible to the present day. A large number of cellars were constructed at the time, and guided tours of these famous Medieval Cellars are run by a team of volunteers. 
Almost the entire town is a designated Conservation Area and most of the surrounding land is owned and managed by the National Trust. Many buildings in the town are Grade I or Grade II listed. The present town replaced an earlier town of the same name, sometimes known as Old Winchelsea, destroyed by storms in 1287.

There are many buildings of significant interest within the town, including 3 of the original town gates. 

The Church of St. Thomas lies amidst ruins, at the heart of the town, and is well worth investigating.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Hastings - old world seaside town.

Along with Scarborough in Yorkshire, Hastings ranks as one of my favourite seaside towns. Ignoring the obvious attraction of the May Day biker event, it's a slightly shabby, yet very friendly place.
The Old Town is full of quaint buildings, and the seafront has attractions for all the family.
It is overlooked by beautiful castle ruins, and there are wonderful places to walk and relax, such as Fairlight and Alexandra Park.
I've not got around to photographing it yet, but here is a taster:
This is the former Georgian Church of  St. Mary In The Castle, situated halfway along the seafront. It has been lovingly restored, and is set to become an important entertainment venue for the town.

Almost half of the seafront is taken up with the enormous Pelham Place car park, which features a far larger than normal bike parking area, and this is where the May Day bike meet takes place. On the Sunday night, they close the car park to all vehicles, and at 06:00 the next morning, it is opened to motorcycles only. 
If the weather is fine, you can expect to see 30-40,000 motorcycles over the course of the day, and Pelham Place quickly fills up. Bikes spill out all over the town, and parking is allowed down the middle of the main road. There are stalls and bike displays all over the centre of town.

Oh, and Pelham Place even has parking for seagulls...............

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Peculiar Romney Marsh, the lost parishes...

......or more correctly, Romney Marshes because the area known generically as Romney Marsh, actually comprises 3 enclosed and drained, or 'inned', marsh areas - Romney Marsh, Walland Marsh and Denge Marsh, each enclosed by 'walls' of raised ground, such as the Rhee Wall, which enabled the enclosed ground to be drained.
The enclosed ground is very fertile, and from Roman times, has been heavily farmed, both as arable land, and more famously, for sheep breeding.
Over the centuries, the small towns along the coast, such as Hythe, New Romney and Lydd have thrived reasonably well, whilst further inland the Marsh has suffered from severe depopulation for one reason and another.
The former parishes are named on old tithe maps, which show that they were abandoned in the late-Middle Ages. The ruins are now protected as Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

The main reason for the decline of local settlements at that time was the Black Death. Add to that the problem of malaria as well as other water borne diseases which made the Marsh a hostile place to live. Mortality rates on the Marsh were twice as high as in villages just a few miles away.

This has resulted in several lost parishes, which I aim to photograph and describe here, over the period of this summer. Most visitors and incomers to this area will not recognise the names of them, but true locals will know them, and know where evidence can still be found.

I know the location of all of them, except Blackmanstone - that I know roughly, but not exactly. I shall have to search it out! (Good excuse to ride my bike)

Hope All Saints

The only reference I know as to its' location, is Hasted, who describes it thus.......

IT is very small, having no house within it. The court-lodge has been down for many years, a looker's hut being all that remains on the scite of it. The church was situated close on the other side of the road to it, of which there are only two or three stones remaining. The lands of it are mostly marsh, some of which are ploughed up, and the whole of it much the same as that of Orgarswike, last-described. 

I know that it was to the north of St. Mary In The Marsh...........

Broomhill, or Bromehill, used to lie in the area of the current Lydd Army Ranges, located on an island on a spit of land on the western edge of the Walland Marsh. 
In 1287, a severe storm hit the channel, and the movement of shingle blocked the outlet of the River Rother at Romney, changing its path forever down to Rye. Bromehill and Old Winchelsea were swept away.
Surprisingly, the decayed remains of the church are shown on a map produced by John Norden in 1595.
The village was never rebuilt after the storm.
Broomhill is just a scatter of stones near an abandoned farm house. It was excavated in the 1980's and was estimated to have been built in 1200AD on the newly drained Walland Marsh

Just south of Lydd. Closed when Lydd army ranges were started during WWII.

This I do know, but have not yet photographed it. Only the 13th century tower and part of the 12th century nave of the church remains, somewhat delapidated and ivy-covered. It lies in the same general area as Orgarswick.

A lot of people may know this one, due to the curious location of its' church in a deserted part of Walland Marsh.
The Church of St. Thomas a Becket, stands in the middle of a field, and until the surrounding marsh drainage was improved, at times could only be approached by boat.
A service is still held there on the 1st. Sunday in every month. The tiny lane that leads to Fairfield, is probably one of the walls that 'inned' the Walland Marsh.

The church has been encased in brick to protect and preserve it.

West of Dungeness, now just a stone cross on a stepped plinth.

Just south of Lydd. Closed when Lydd Army ranges were started.

The ruins of the church of All Saints is all that remains of Hope, and indeed, the ruins are now simply known as Hope All Saints. They lie down the lane which runs from New Romney to Ivychurch.
It dates from the 12th century and has been abandoned since the 17th century. Years later it became a favourite for the smugglers.

I bet you've been through Jesson! But you wouldn't have realised it.
It's not that it has completely disappeared, it's just that it is now called St. Mary's Bay!
It was likely named after Jesson Farm, built around 1820, in what is now Jefferstone Lane. The name Jesson was changed to St. Mary's Bay on 12 October 1935.

Midley  was built on what was then an island between Lydd and Romney - probably the 'middle isle'.  The west wall of the 15th century church remains standing. It was deserted by the 16th century.

During WWII there was an RAF airfield here.

The church was abandoned many centuries ago and no trace remains.  The site is marked by a stone cross near Chapel Cottage Farm a few miles north west of Dymchurch.
At one time, Orgarswick was a 'rotten borough', entitled to send 2 members to parliament.

The hamlet still exists, but the church is a recently 'lost' parish. It lies just off the A256 between Ham Street and Brenzett. 
The church, dedicated to St. Augustine, is one of the more remote churches on Romney Marsh. It is very small, and lies at the end of a grass track.
It mostly dates from the 13th. Century, but the upper part of the tower is a later addition. There are 14 buttresses to combat the constant problem of subsidence.
Sadly, it was declared redundant, and its upkeep and maintenance were placed in the care of the Romney Marsh Historic Churches Trust in 1984.
At one time it was used as an indoor short mat bowling rink.
In Spring it is surrounded by hundreds of daffodils.