We decided to make our way south first to Margate even though we had no booking for the weekend.
My mother had wonderful photos of Margate in the 1920’s but she would have been very disappointed to see it as it is today – a generally dilapidated and sad looking town. There is a new Arts Centre right on the coast and a couple of nice cafes but that is about it. A local told us that it has been going downhill for over ten years and that there are many refugees who have been put up in various buildings around town.
They have built the new Art centre in the hope of building up the town again. There was a sign on the beach stating that they had Britain’s best sand beach but we didn’t think much of it compared with Australian beaches. Further around the coastsline however were spectacular limestone cliffs and you could either walk along the base of these or up above them.
We left there and drove on to Broadstairs where my mother and her family went to the seaside. This was much more affluent and the buildings mirrored this. We walked around the promenade to Bleak house where Charles Dickens wrote “Great Expectations”. It was a lovely 28degree day. Parking was a problem in the seaside towns with narrow streets and few parking bays but we managed after driving around to find a spot not too far from the town centre. The “P” signs are not always appropriate for our van with many with height restrictions. Germany and even Italy were better for this with clear signage displaying buses or campervans.
A nice campsite owner in Ramsgate returned our call to book the three nights we wanted over the bank holiday weekend. He could only give us a pitch with electicity for one night and two nights without which was fine by us. We used our gas to power the fridge on those nights.
The campsite was full even though rain was forecast for the following day. We thought that this would have put some people off – but NO this was England.
The campsite used to be the grounds for a grand house called “Nethercourt” which was used as a hospital during the last war.
They did tell us when we checked in not to leave shoes or anything outside as the foxes take them and to be careful not to step on any hedgehogs in the dark but we didn’t see any.
The Saturday was very overcast but that didn’t stop people from going down to the beach. When we came back from exploring Broadstairs and Ramsgate a police car was at the campsite and lots of children were allowed to sit in the policecar and sound the siren and have photos taken wearing the policemans’
hat. A good PR job.
In Broadstairs we bought some nice fresh sea bass and fresh raspberries which we ate for dinner.
The most common greeting when entering a shop was “awrigh then” and people replied “yea awrigh” This was in sharp contrast to any shop you enter in Germany where people automatically greet you with good morning or good day and wish you very formally an enjoyable evening.
It was much cooler when we got back to the campsite and we had our light jackets on and were snug inside the camper but most others were sitting around outside. That night it poured with rain and we heard a few people saying that they had water in their tents – yuk!
Sunday was overcast but we drove via Sandwich a lovely old town with a lovely little coffee shop to Canterbury which is also a lovely old town with many canals winding in and around the centre of town.
The cathedral is most impressive and we found the original Franciscan Greyfriars building which was set in a lovely wildflower field and built over a narrow channel of water.
We wanted to see an art trail in Ramsgate in several buildings but had to give that a miss as we just couldn’t find a parking place because there were so many people there for the bank holiday.
Monday was a beautiful day and we left Ramsgate early to drive back to London to see my mother’s old friend Eileen who is living in a care assisted home but has all her marbles at 91.
We had lunch in the van overlooking some playing fields followed by a coffee in a lovely little cafe in Dulwich town before going to see Maurice’s niece Fiona and her family in Wandsworth where they have bought a townhouse and are having it renovated before they move in – we had a look at the building site and they hope to be in it in about 6months time.
We left them in the late afternoon to drive the hour and a half to Hitchin where we bought our campervan and where we camped for 2 nights. We wanted to have a radio installed in the van and catch up with our friend Barry before going down to Ruth and Michael in the Chilterns on the 28th August.

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