May 2015

Days 1 though 3 - Southeast England

Jan and I had been planning this trip for a couple of years. My back surgery in 2014 put it off but now we are set to travel. Jan is really into doing genealogy research so she had a long list of towns in England, Ireland and Wales where my relatives had lived. We wanted to visit as many as we could find. I wanted to see a couple of the worlds best motorcycle museums. I mostly wanted to drive the roads of Great Britton. They are always a challenge.

This was the route we had laid out in advance. We had made reservations everywhere. Most places we had Best Western hotels. They are not like they are in the states. They are really nice hotels. They have the advantage of advance reservations without a deposit and cancellation the day of arrival.

The flight over went perfectly. Everything on time. The seats on the plane were great with individual TVs and lots of new movies. We could have used more leg room however. 10 hours is a long time in one seat.

We got to Heathrow and picked up the car. It is a Ford focus with a stick shift. It will be perfect. It was cold and raining. It takes a little while to get used to a different car. Even worse when driving on the left and the shift lever on the left. We got out on the M25 after several roundabouts and into heavy traffic. After a few miles we were on the A25 heading south on smaller roads. I bought the Garmin England maps for my GPS. It works great. 

The hotel is beautiful. It is a Best Western but here they are upper class hotels. We have a reservation for dinner and have tomorrow all mapped out. Hope to get some photos tomorrow....

This is the route we took for the first 2 days

Our first night was a BW in Steyning just north of Brighton. It was a real nice hotel with great food.

This hotel even had a tea room

The view out our window

We awoke to sunshine today. We had a wonderful dinner the night before in the hotel restaurant and they also served a great breakfast. We cannot keep eating like this.

We stopped at an ATM to get money and our bank had us locked out. We went into a Lloydes Bank and they let us use their computer to go on the Well Fargo site. I hope it will work tomorrow.

We drove south to Brighton. We walked along the shore and out on their amusement pier. It must really be a popular beach town on the weekends. The traffic was bad enough on a cool Friday.

For the whole vacation the GPS did us well. On other trips Jan spends the whole trip with a map in her lap. I don't like to follow the main roads so it is a challenge to keep me on the smaller roads. I also have a habit of just heading down roads that look interesting and then end up hopelessly lost. Our lady in the GPS would put me back on track. She seemed to know the littlest goat trails that I am able to find. There was a couple of times however that we managed to even get her lost.

This is the Royal Pavilion. It was built as a simple seaside villa in 1787 and rebuilt in 1822 for King George IV. It is open for tours.

We drove east stopping at several small beach towns along the south shore. They included Lewes, Hastings and Rye. We stayed in a large hotel on the shore in Folkstone. We eat in their dining room that night. It is a lot classier than we are used to.

I loved driving there. Driving on the left is a real challenge. I have done it a lot in the past and got comfortable again. That is when it gets dangerous. We drove in traffic on some real narrow city streets. We must have done 100 roundabouts that day.

Folkstone is another beach resort town. It was one of the major disembarkment towns for the first world war and it has never been as popular since. All of these towns were bombed during the Second World War but from the monuments the First World War had a far larger impact. It does have a nice beach and a nice park area along the shore line. This was once the site of a large church but nothing but the tower was restored.

Our hotel was a large older hotel looking out over the English Channel.

It was foggy when we woke up but it cleared soon and the sun came out. It was to stay that way most of the day. We had another huge breakfast. The traditional English breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs, cooked tomatoes, fry bread. We still don’t understand why they bring the toast standing up in what we call “toast coolers”. It is cold by the time you eat it. The English want their bread cold and drink warm beer.

We stopped at a big supermarket on the way out of town. We like a supply of cookies, bottle of lemonade and some fruit in the car. We have been having big breakfasts and dinners and we snack mid day.

Our first stop was Dover. It is a port city with many ships out in the harbor. We drove up to the top of the cliffs with a good view of the castle, the harbor and the white cliffs. It was a real pretty place. Being on the English Channel it has a long history of being the first exposure to the British Islands. It has been fortified and it has also been the entry point to the country. Over 300 ships a day come into the port. The top of the cliffs have in the past had cannons mounted the could shoot to the French coast which you can see 20 miles out to sea. The cliffs are now in the National Trust and are kept very nice. The National Trust is like our National Parks but held in a public trust.



We had been in the southeast of England, first with the seaside resorts and then the commercial and military port towns. After Dover we headed toward London on our way to East Anglia.

We stopped in Canterbury to see the Cathedral. It has been there since the 12th century. It is a huge walled structure and looks like a castle. We were going to walk the grounds but being a Saturday the place was real crowded. We couldn’t get a parking place. We drove around looking at it and got on the M2 toward London.

We went north under the Thames about 30 miles east of London in a toll tunnel. I had to figure out now how to pay for it on line. I know they would find me and I would get a bill from Hertz.

We were heading for Norwich in East Anglia for the night. On the way we stopped at Dedham. It is a cute little village. We walked the streets and had an ice cream. It was fun driving the small roads where you always have to slow down and pull to the left to give approaching cars enough room. Some roads are just one lane wide. We drove to two other beautiful small villages for photos and then headed for Norwich and our room for the night. 

This church was to have five large bells. They were never mounted in the church tower. However they built this small building for the bells and they are rang regularly from here.

We stayed that night in the George Hotel in Norwich

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