Having now made my way back to the sand pit, I thought that I would record our adventures from the last few weeks while they are still fresh in my mind. The family are still in Blighty sunning (or perhaps more accurately raining) themselves in Portsmouth en route for Bristol. However, our adventures kicked off in mid-July when I joined up with the family (who had left Dubai at the start of July) in Maidstone and where we caught up with R., A , O. and I for our traditional drink at the Swan in West Peckham where R. and I managed to exact revenge for our defeat in last year's lassies and lads v dad's game against A, O and V including, if I might say an extremely well-taken goal from me to clinch a 9 goal thriller 5 - 4.
It must be said that spending 2 weeks chained to my desk at work followed by a lengthy plane journey that morning was not the ideal preparation and I certainly felt somewhat (in fact, very) stiff for the next couple of days. However, no time to worry about that as our next act was to brave "Operation Stack" (designed to turn the M20 into a giant lorry park while the French ferry workers were on strike) to pick up our campervan (actually quite a large motorhome) in Harrietsham the following day.
Everyone was using the A20 as an alternative to the M20 so traffic to Harrietsham was heavy but after a 40 minute drive in Dad's rather overladen car (he was kind enough to drop us off), we arrived at the pick up to find...nobody home - it transpired that the owner and his son (off to his graduation ball apparently) were not available and had left the introductory tour to a friend of theirs who owned the neighbouring fencing store. The Motorhome was rather larger than I had anticipated (6 berths with a bed over the cabin and a large seating area at the back) and having briefly been introduced to the facilities and its operating processes, my first act was to nearly reverse the back of the vehicle into the Roebuck pub which we had decided to call into for lunch prior to our departure. My attempts to manoeuvre the behemoth around the pub car park without touching the sides was undoubtedly an unexpected highlight for the various drinkers sat outside (and for the landlady, a matter of some alarm), nevertheless, after a good lunch (Gammon for me - by no means the last pork product I would be sampling over the next 7 days......), we set off for our first destination - a campsite just outside Canterbury.
The camp site was on the outskirts of Canterbury and within sight of the Cathedral (about a 40 minute walk as we were later to discover). I have not done a huge amount of camping in the UK but it was pretty much what I had been anticipating - a mix between the slightly dilapidated feel of Carry on Camping and a former farm set in the lush Kent countryside.
We had a walk into town arriving just in time to find that the Cathedral had closed and the currency shops where we were to get our Euros for the next stage of our trip were also closed. We did however have a very pleasant walk along the river and the scented gardens as well as a terrific sea food meal at one of the restaurants (I had an excellent cracked crab - great value for £21).
We could not face the walk back so took a cab and prepared for our first night in our new home by visiting the ablution block. Facilities were pretty basis but clean and having agreed the allocation of beds (I was in the bed above the cab which was long but quite snug!), we settled in for a night under the stars. The rain thundered down in the middle of the night but it had stopped by morning and we had time to have some bread and jam for our breakfast before heading off to the Chunnel for the next stage of our trip.