Chapter One. Arrival.
Trip Start Sep 28, 2012
20Trip End Oct 14, 2012
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Where I stayed
The Olde Shoppe
We start our voyage with a four pound overweight suitcase at Miami, a petty and niggling experience. Our United flights, MIA/EWR/LHR are both absolutely full, as is the norm these days. We actually arrive early on Saturday morning in Heathrow. The weather is sunny and cool.
We had booked our car through Kemwel, and as usual had looked for the most reasonable rates. Advantage Rent a Car had the best prices, so we booked a compact car for two weeks at the princely sum of US$ 325.09. We were instructed to take the Hertz courtesy shuttle, which seemed a little strange to us
Nevertheless the driver of the Hertz shuttle accepts us for the long drive from Terminal four to the rental car areas.
"What now?" I ask the driver as we arrive at the Hertz lot.
“Over there” he points to a grey cargo container set up as a mobile office on the far side of the Hertz rental lot.
“You're kidding!” I exclaim. Whatever have we got ourselves into?
We shuffle across the Hertz lot, trailing our suitcases, to the far distant corner to claim our car. Inside the sparse office two Middle Eastern gentlemen greet us, one tapping away on his small computer.
“Yes, I have your booking here. I have very nice car for you. Nice red Vauxhall Astra, but for few dollars more we upgrade you to a splendid Vauxhall Insignia.”
“Thanks, but the red Astra is fine.”
On signing the contract I’m surprised to find that Advantage is in fact a Hertz company
The little Astra is a perky car and easy to drive, so it’s not too hard adapting to driving on the left. Once on the M25 motorway it all comes back to me.
Although we have been fed on the transatlantic flight, we are still a little peckish. It’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon for us, so it’s lunch time. We exit at Cobham Services and find the food court. It’s 10 in the morning here, so we decide on an English breakfast. Bangers and bacon with fried egg and mushrooms add up to a cholesterol busting meal. We won’t be able to do this every morning, but this one time? Why not?
Continuing on the motorway we finally arrive at the exit to Lenham. I haven’t requested a GPS with the car as I have the dubious advantage of being able to read a map. Nevertheless, the old problem arises that European roads, unlike North American roads, do not indicate in which direction they are going. We exit the motorway, and as I see no sign for Lenham, take the wrong road. I doesn’t take long before I realize we are proceeding in the opposite direction.I do “U” turn and head the right way
Roads are generally well signposted in England, so we soon see the right hand turn to Lenham and are shortly in the square at the centre of the village. We now have to locate the cottage at 5 High Street. It’s pretty obvious which is High Street, and almost immediately we locate the property.
The cottage is just a few doors from the village square, beside an estate agent and around the corner from the post office. It’s a three storey former shop that has origins dating back to the 1700's. Inside it’s really pretty with ancient beams and a tiny flower-filled garden. There are three bedrooms, two baths, kitchen, dining and living rooms. The curving wooden stairs are amazingly steep and we have to navigate them with care. Cecilia, the youngster in the family, takes the top floor bedroom. The cottage provides us with a comfortable, well-equipped base for touring the Heart of Kent.