After a delicious breakfast we get outside, into the drizzle. It stays that way the whole morning and the visibilty is very limited when we take small roads towards Plymouth. At Tavistock we take a turn, into the Dartmoor national park and soon we are driving on a plateau in dense mist. It must be a rough area, but we don't get to see much of it
One of the things the park is known for, are the half wild ponies who live here and once the fog lifts, we see a few. Young foals, playing frolicly and one mare who is so curious she puts her head into our car through the open window. When we close the window, she starts to gnaw on our car! Later we see the marks of her teeth in the varnish and at our garage they tell us it will cost € 500 to repair it. But well, we have seen the ponies of Dartmoor!The fog is disappearing slowly now and we see more of the landscape. It looks very old here, it feels a bit 'primal'. In ancient times many people lived in this area and there are many relics to be seen, but this time we have other priorities, so we don't look for them.
When we have arrived at Exeter the weather has improved so much that we can sit outside for a cup of coffee and some soup. We go for a walk through the town which is the capital of Devon. In the second world war this town was heavily bombarded, but the cathedral took no hits and also the Underground Passages were spared, an underground network from the 14th century which was used for the supply of water.
From Exeter we drive via Dorchester to Lulworth Cove, an almost circular bay, brightly lighted by the sun. The soft limestone has eroded during millions of years and left this bay. It is a very nice place for walking around.
We have read in our comprehensive travel guide about South England that there is something here that we want to see, but we can't remember what it is and we have lost the book yesterday. Later we find out it is Corfe Castle we had wanted to see, but we have missed that. But we have seen a very nice part of the south coast.
After this walk we take more normal roads so we can drive a bit quicker to the east. At 6 o'clock we start looking for a hotel. It gets much colder now at night and the air is still vey humid, so we don't want to put up our tent somewhere, just for one night. But it seems to be getting harder and harder to find a suitable place. Only after it is dark (around half past eight) we find a room at Arundel for £ 90, the most expensive night of this holiday, but the cheapest we could find in this area. And we have been to quite a lot of hotels in a radius of 30 kilometers!
Thursday 15 September 2005, long the south coast to the east, HastingsWe are glad we haven't slept in our tent last night, despite the costs: it is raining heavily when we get up and it looks very cold outside. Well, it is. Just when we want to drive away, Elisabeth discovers she has left her sunglasses in the room and she has to walk all the stairs again to get it, since we hope she will need them again one of these days, despite the lack of sunshine today.
The town where we are, Arundel, is a nice place, but we don't linger there too long. It is a small market town with a very impressive castle with many paintings and furniture from the 16rh century. But we have seen enough castles on the inside and skip this one.
Via Brighton we drive towards Eastbourne along the coast to the Seven Sisters. In this area we come upon another white horse, made in the chalk rocks and then we arrive at the Seven Sisters, 7 chalk cliffs that stand behind each other. There is a big storm going on when we get out of the car and we have to climb the stairs to the beach carefully down, since they are very slippery.
The sea is also quite turbulent and we can hardly hear what we say to each other. With calm weather this is probably a very nice place to be, but now we soon go upstairs again and into our car. We first want to take a coffee at the restaurant but then a bus stops with about 50 Dutch people who go inside and we decide we search for another place.
But first we start searching for the Long Man, a figure of almost 70 meters high which is carved into a hill and marked with stones. At some point we know we must be almost on top of it, but we don't see anything. We drive to and fro and finally the figure slowly appears from the mist. The origin of the figure is unknown but it could date back to the Bronze Age (2000 to 500 BC.).
Although there are still British optimists who walk in t-shirt outside, we don't think this is weather to walk outside, so we quickly search for a pub when we stop at Hastings. And when the rain starts to fall, people hide inside. We only choose the wrong cafe since we haven't had such awful coffee before in Great Britain (and Elisabeth hasn't had any nice cup until now, she likes her coffee fresh and strong).
With a small train (the West Hill Cliff Railway) we go to the top of the hill where the ruins of a castle stand but it is too cold and windy to walk around and the view on the harbour and pier is a bit depressing today, so we are back down in a couple of minutes and run to the car. We decide to drive around a bit through the neighbourhood, but we skip Battle, the place where the real battle of Hastings took place in 1066 AD.From Rye we take the coastal route to the east, an area which looks very desolate on the map and in reality it also is. Sometimes desolate regions can be quite beautiful, but not here, it is just an open and bare plain and nothing to see. There is an airforce base and the military live in similar and very boring houses along the coast. So now we know nothing better to do than start looking for a hotel.
We drive to Canterbury and yes, you have guessed it right: all hotels are full! This time because there is a big wedding with hundreds of guests and all hotels in the neighbourhood are fully booked. We have no idea who is going to marry and the hotelowners also have no idea, but it must be a big hapening. And we were right to start early looking for a hotel, since it costs us 2½ hours before we find a room, which we can only have for one night, in Sandwich, a small but nice medieval town not far from the east coast. On our room we can enjoy the live concert that goes on in the pub below, which is quite good.
We feel tired, but it is more a sort of holiday-tiredness than physical. In fact we are quite happy that we return home the day after tomorrow. We have driven over 7000 kilometers now and seen a lot. It has been enough.