A tale of four sisters
Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
148Trip End Oct 25, 2010
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A small miracle crossing from France to England under the Channel by train. My sister Mieke thought it an even greater miracle as she wondered out loud if anything untoward might happen would the sea water come rushing in. Yes, quite.
As for me, I am rather claustrophobic but had decided not to be silly about that, it would take a mere 35 minutes and I would tell myself it wasn't much different to travelling on the London Tube. Ten minutes into the ride warning signs start flashing and a voice comes on telling us to remain calm, there is a dangerous situation in the neighbouring compartment and those passengers are being evacuated into ours. Great. Well, I lived to tell the tale but the following 25 minutes were not my finest and truth be told I am dreading the journey back. No further explanation was given and against instructions I left the car to anxiously peer out of the window, only to see the tunnel walls flashing by, too close for comfort. Then, just like that, we were out, blinking at a glorious blue sky, I had never been happier to see the likes.
Time goes back an hour, we are too early for our cottage so we stop at Ashford, the biggest town near Chilham. It is a perfect start, typical old English place, tea and scones first then we split up so we can rummage around the charity and sweet shops in peace. To my joy I find an English dictionary, good as new, to replace the tattered one at home, that long lost its hard covers, front and back, along with half of the words beginning with A and all of the Z's and the Y's are disappearing now too. (I know about on-line dictionaries but somehow flicking the pages of the big book is more satisfactory than tapping keys and staring at a screen.) Anyway, individually my sisters all turned up with bras, marvelling at the fact the English ladies had the right size breasts, meaning bigger than the continental women. They were later happily passed around at the cottage as the fit was sometimes less than perfect, but, what's a £1 bra between sisters?
Chilham by the way is stunning, a tiny medieval village and we are right on the village square, a place that has been used as scenery for many a Dickens or Jane Austin film. We actually saw the very cottage we are staying at on one of those productions, very odd to be sitting in the place while watchting it on dvd.
Next day we went shopping for food and happened upon a big car boot sale. There goes the best part of the day - we are all suckers for antiques and flea markets, excited by the thought of finding the one hidden treasure amongst a shipload of junk. Mieke found a handcrafted pottery cat, life-sized, one ear missing. Absolutely adorable. I found a chain that may or may not be gold. Just pretending is pennies well spent but Femke, the most down-to-earth one of the lot gave it one look and said: 'It doesn't look like gold to me.' Patsy got an antique plunger, without the plunging part, so basically an old stick, but she assured us it would sit nicely in her bathroom to hold at least three toilet paper rolls. So I guess she did well. Femke? Well, like I said, the most sensible one, I don't think she had much to show at the end of the day. And yes, more bras were added to the collection.
Next day we started out for a walk, weather a bit dodgy, though sunny for the moment, guzzling sweets, gabbing on, making our way to the woods to collect some wood for the fire as the logs in our cottage were for decorational use only! We found lots and were soon weighed down by great big branches and tree trunks, we couldn't possibly continue our walk. Fortunately the wind picks up, a right blustering storm, rain pelting down so we trundled back to the car and had a wonderful, blazing fire. A few drinks and we were happy as Larry.
As you might have gathered, our days are unorganised. next day we make our way to the village of Wye, not sure why, I think it was because of the river but we flew through the place before we knew it and somehow find ourselves on the road to Tenterden, which was fine too. Tenterden is a beautiful place to visit, well known for its antique shops. Loads of interesting shops there, charity shops gallore and we were most willing to do our bit for charity. Honestly, more bras were purchased than any woman could possibly need in a lifetime.But my sisters think they are on to a good thing, possibly earning back the cost of this trip by stocking up on them. I'm not sure but I reckon its a harmless obsession.
However, we are suddenly all four of us fed up with the shops and stuff and decide a walk on the beach would be nice. Femke checks her guide and Hastings seems to be all right, not that far, an old smuggler's hide-out, that quite appeals to us.
Turns out to be a bit of a shambles, dirty and windy, brash amusement halls and fish and chips shops the main attraction. Well, you can't go to England and not have fish and chips so, yeah, which one? I accost a red-haired, pony tailed man sweeping the streets and ask does he know a decent fish and chip shop. 'Decent?' he says, as if that was a hard one. Anyway, he directs us to the Olde Town Chip Shop and there is nothing old about the modern blue and white neon lit set-up, but the food is fine and we get chatty with the owner. I tell her the place was recommended and she says: 'Oh, was it that chappy with the ginger hair?' She smiles. 'Bless him,' she says, and I joke, 'Ah, is he your son?' realising too late they must be about the same age. 'What!,' she says horrified, 'My son? How dare you!' My sisters said they had never seen me turn that red before. But I wasn't the only one caught in an embarrassing situation. One of my sisters, (notice I am being discreet here) was obviously experiencing some tummy trouble, she kept nipping into the toilets, her gait uncomfortable and at one point she rushes ahead of us to an empty space in the street to surprise us, and herself, by undeniably and most audibly breaking wind. Unfortunately at the very moment an old distinguished gentleman appeared from nowhere (= a little hidden path leading onto the pavement) almost bumping into her, looking somewhat alarmed he commented loudly: 'Are you all right?' and hurried on. We almost collapsed laughing especially as she is the one who insists she never uses this particular body function.
We must have been a sight, four sisters, well past sell-by date, gasping for air, doubled up with laughter. We stumbled into a souvenir shop where this guy was making funny signs, burning the text into wood panels. I can't resist quoting some:
'If you want a committed man, look in a mental home.'
'Grow your own dope - plant a man.'
'Old fishermen never die - they just smell that way.'
'The way to a fisherman's heart is through his flies.'
Okay, that's enough nonsense for today, I must be mad posting this but that's what happens to you after a few days with my sisters. A more serious attempt next time. Bye from Chilham :)