Hastings / Bodiam

Saturday Afternoon

A weekend in Hastings to celebrate my sister’s birthday was never going to be quiet but we had a cracking time.

Saturday was not  very nice weather wise, grey and cool. It didn’t matter much since we spent some time wandering down George Street browsing the shop windows  until we met up with my sisters friends. Then we whiled away some time loafing in  Ye Olde Pump House, a pub which looks much older than it really is.

 That’s if the old gent who harangued us outside can be believed. Anyway, it’s old enough and was very popular even when I used to visit back in the late 60’s. Had a couple of pints of Early Bird, a really tasty brew from Shepherd Neame.

A pale golden beer, with floral aroma, Early Bird is full-bodied and takes its name from the Early Bird variety of East Kent Goldings hops, grown in hop gardens near the brewery.

It gets my vote and certainly seemed to live up to the brewers description which I have quoted above.

Due to much gassing with my sisters friends, time passed rapidly by and we ended up spending more time in the pub than we had intended. This is what happens when you are having a good time. We were supposed to be having a meal before going on to a show. In the end we had to by-pass the meal and  sprint to make the show.

We were going to see Chas Hodges, you can read my post on that HERE

Sunday – Wow ! What a day out !!!

For Sunday we had chosen to get together with my other sister and had arranged to meet up at Bodiam Castle. The weather was fabulous, blue cloud free skies and beautiful spring sunshine.

Bodiam Castle is in a wonderful setting, sat as it is on an island reached only by the bridge across the moat.

We meandered around the perimeter of the moat enjoying the warmth of the sun and the attentions of the many ducks. Sis decided that she would become the Birdwoman of Bodiam and broke out the butties. She was immediately surrounded.

Once they knew that she was a buttie free zone they abandoned her. Cupboard love I believe it is called.

We continued to tour the castle surrounds before heading inside. Here are a few facts that I have dredged up. Bodiam is a 14th Century construction. It was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge who apparently was one of Edward IIIs knights. It was intended to defend the area against those nefarious French during the Hundred Years War.

Those pesky ducks get every where, especially when they think there is food to be had. You only have to dangle your arm over the bridge railing and a collective shout of “incoming” goes up.

Of course, what goes up must eventually come down…..

Once we were across the bridge we were met by a most unusual couple. We were accused of using the devils machinery and of stealing their spirits but they were quite friendly really and welcomed us into the castle courtyard

While we were there the locals were telling of the castles history hence the unusual attire. This fellow was the main orator.

Bodiam is a “pretty” castle now and it doesn’t take much imagination to see what it would have been like when it was first built.

It is possible to get many different perspectives of the castle.

After much strolling and climbing we found ourselves to be a bit peckish. So we took ourselves across the road to the nearby pub. Strangely enough it is called the Castle Inn

We were surprised to find that there were outside tables available and sat ourselves down for a spot of lunch. Considering this was 1st April, to be sitting outside to eat was a rare treat. The food was good and we didn’t have to wait too long and it was hot when it arrived. By a happy coincidence this pub was also serving Early Bird which was a suitable lubricant for the meal.

While we were having lunch we were treated to the spectacle of a helicopter coming into land on the pub lawns.

After lunch we walked up to the railway station. All day we had been seeing the smoke and hearing the whistles of the steam trains.

When we arrived at the station we determined that the next train would be arriving within a few minutes and duly positioned ourselves across the road and the level crossing ready for the steamer we knew was coming. Imagine the big disappointment when we were presented with this…..

Yup. A diesel loco. OK it is a piece of vintage rolling stock but it wasn’t what we wanted. Never mind, as they say, there is always next time. After taking a look at some of the old goods wagons at the station we headed back to our cars.

Drove back to my sister’s house for a cup of tea and some superb lemon drizzle cake. All taken while sitting outside in the sunshine. I still have to remind myself that this was the first day of April.

A fitting close to a fantastic day. All that was left was for us to drive the 90 or so miles home. I didn’t need any rocking when I hit my pit.

Glorious Wells

Yesterday we spent a fabulous day visiting Wells in Somerset.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather. After around two hours traveling we arrived and promptly set about finding somewhere to have a bite to eat and a cuppa. We settled on The Crown at Wells and Antons Bistro and opted to eat in The Penns Bar.

Originally a separate inn, it was from an upper window here that William Penn, a Quaker who later gave his name to Pennsylvania USA (and our bar), preached to a crowd below in 1685.

After lunch we started our exploration in earnest. After browsing some of the market stalls and doing a bit of window shopping we passed through the archway and headed towards the Bishops Palace and Moat.

The weather was so good that many folks had brought picnics and were sitting enjoying the sunshine. Not something we are able to do as often as we would like. Of course nobody was allowed on the bowling green quality lawns immediately in front of the palace itself.

Before traveling down to Wells I had printed of the Wells Moat Walk map which guides you around the moat and makes sure you don’t miss the main sights. Each of the following views are from that walk.

The Tithe Barn, unfortunately, was surrounded by parked cars which was a shame. Its a lovely building and deserves to be seen without the automotive graffiti.

As we strolled along the moat we availed ourselves of a deliciously smooth 99 apiece. This really was just like a summers day. We had to keep reminding ourselves that it was still only the third week of March.

Wherever you are in the city the magnificent cathedral dominates the skyline. But there are plenty of other interesting sights.

Adjacent to the cathedral can be found the Vicars Close which has it’s own unique style and, having no through road, forms a quiet secluded area away from the general hustle and bustle.

The cathedral itself has many interesting feature both outside as well as in. Close to the entrance to the Vicars Close, on the cathedral wall you can see the Wells Clock, said to be the second oldest clock mechanism in Britain.

Inside, the cathedral has many beautiful architectural features. In the main body of the building is the scissor arch. An impressive feature but they serve a very real purpose. In the past a high tower topped by a lead covered wooden spire had been constructed but as the foundations were not stable large cracks began to appear in the tower structure. The scissor arch is an engineering solution to the problem.

Leading up to the Chapter House is a remarkable flight of stairs

The Chapter House, an octagonal structure, is a beautiful room constructed over the undercroft is where the Canons met to conduct cathedral business.

By far the most spectacular feature of the cathedral is the West Front which features some 300 statues.

After touring the cathedral we were ready to return home. On route we stopped, at the White Horse Ampfield,  for dinner.

A fine and tasty end to a great day.