The weather forecast was changeable after several weeks of hot settled weather, but changeable was okay.
When Roy and I arrived at the hotel after a rotten journey down a stationary M25, Gren and Jan and Alan and Gill (who were on their way to the pool) had already settled in. Before Ian and Denise arrived, Roy and I hot footed into Maidstone to pick up the surprise birthday cake for Denise.
Ian and Denise, Al and Ann and Joe and Izzy met the rest of us in the bar before being shown to our own personal dining room in the library! All very nice, where we enjoyed a good meal and a catch up before retiring to bed. Joe and Izzy detailed the Poland trip they had just returned from which sounded a wonderful trip.
Denise was presented with her cards and presents at breakfast. Rodger and Edit, joined us for breakfast, they live only a short distance away, somewhere near London so they had decided not to stay at the hotel. The weather forecast was pretty grim with heavy rain and thunder storms promised, but when we set off the sky was blue, but Ian put on his water proof over trousers just for luck. Roy and I were leading which for us was a BIG change as we had no one to follow!! We wound our way down through the beautiful Kent countryside, past fabulously expensive houses, which Al could not believe were commuter houses and people traveled up to town (London) each day to work!
Our first stop was in the pretty town of Tenterden, with its quaint timber clad shops, boutiques and coffee shops. Edit made a beeline for the first boutique she could see! We were met by Chris and Tina, who had just purchased a 1200 Goldwing and wanted to meet us, so Roy and I went for a coffee with them to discuss Gold wings etc. The rest of the group dispersed to coffee shops. When it was time to leave Joe came back to the bike proudly carrying some red soled deck shoes, he could not resist buying?
Once more on the bikes we traveled across the wild Romney Marshes. to look at the nuclear Power station a Dungeness, as planned we were in time to see the arrival of the miniature steam train which runs between Hythe, Romney and Dimchurch
. After waving goodbye to the train and a quick photo shoot. Ian was so hot that he took off his over trousers before we left for Rye, the planned lunch stop.
At Rye we parked up and noticed that the wind was getting a little bit fresher, bit still no rain. We walked the cobble streets of Rye, visited the Church and Castle as well as partaking of some lunch. On getting back to the bikes, heavy black clouds had appeared, so we hastily donned our wet gear, blaming Ian for taking his off at Dungeness! There was a heavy rain shower as we left Rye, the road was steaming and the visors and glasses also steamed up, making the road ahead difficult to see. We had only travelled a few miles before the sun came out and we were soon baking in our wet gear. Roy took a planned off route as we headed to the afternoon coffee stop, Rodger and Edit, left us to get home, we would see them tomorrow. We visited Wadhurst on the way, where we were greeted by my sister Sheila and her family all waving at us as we sailed by; she said afterwards we looked very impressive!
At the Blue Boys café on the A21, off came the wet gear, it was really hot again. Ian was sure the cafe had appeared in a recent Only Fools and Horses episode, when they were planning a robbery in Hastings, if it was can someone put him out misery and confirm it? Alan and Ann decide not to stop and headed back to the hotel for a swim.
Dinner that night was served in the dining room as there was a big wedding on, Denise’s surprise cake was delivered by the staff and we all sung “happy Birthday” I am so glad the staff got the 5 and 9 candles round the right way!
Again Rodger and Edit joined us for breakfast, and soon we were once more on the way, in bright sunshine, through the winding leafy lanes. Kent and Sussex are two very beautiful counties and well worth a visit. Our first stop was in Battle, site of the 1066 skirmish. After a quick look round and a coffee, we left the car park and set off for Eastbourne. As planned we found a large motorcycle bay ready for our bikes, right next to the pier and just off the promenade. With bikes safely parked, Alan and Gill headed for Harry Ramsden, for fish and chips, some of us went onto the pier and had a Victorian lunch (sandwiches and tea!!) As you are aware Eastbourne is known as Gods Waiting Room, so there were various comments from a certain slightly younger member of the group (AL) about how well some of us fitted in with the inhabitants of Eastbourne. Don’t worry we will get him back at play time! The weather was still being kind to us as we headed up, round the only hair pin bend of the whole weekend to the top of Beachy Head, which was very busy ( not with people jumping off although we did see several Samaritan councillors looking for business) for a quick photo shot.
Across the rugged South Downs towards Lewes, where we said goodbye to Gren and Jan (he had to work on the Monday) onwards we went along quiet roads to the afternoon tea stop, Heaven Farm. Rodger and Edit said their goodbyes and continued home and Al and Ann headed back to the hotel for a swim. (not a hot chocolate or to write postcards!!) Somehow Alan and Gill found space for a cream tea! We wondered where he puts it all?
After a rain free day we arrived at the hotel ready for dinner, which was once more being served in the Library. We also had the pleasure of Mark and Pam joining us for the meal, they had been down for their son’s wedding, and from the pictures it looked like the day went well for them.
Time to say our farewells, Roy and I had a great time, leading the group, I could quite get used to it, we only did a couple of “planned” detours! Thanks to everyone for joining us and look forward to seeing you all again soon.