Friends by the sea

Great garden, great people

Sometimes you find a great stopover and don’t really want to move on. The beautiful Sandown Castle community garden was like that. A beautiful location right by the sea, you can understand why it has won awards. Currently, it’s been shortlisted for the 2020 community garden of the year within the south region. I really hope they do well, great to see the community spirit in action like this.

fabulous community garden and Hog and Bean horsebox cafe
fabulous community garden and Hog and Bean horsebox cafe

Hog and Bean cafe

This cool converted horsebox cafe is well worth a visit if you’re in the area. They do a selection of hot and cold drinks, and I’m sure a range of cakes and other stuff too. The trouble is, their speciality sausage rolls were just too good for me to notice anything else! One of these bad boys really sets you up for the day. I tried one (Mango and Stilton) and this was enough to make me stay another night, just so I could try another flavour the next morning! They really are that good!

delicious Mango and Stilton sausage roll from Hog and Bean cafe
delicious Mango and Stilton sausage roll from Hog and Bean cafe

Back to my roots

On my way to tonight’s new destination, I thought I would pass through my old stomping ground of Canterbury. It’s been a while since I’ve been that way, so I thought it would make a good midway stopping off point for a quick break and use of ‘facilities’. After a quick drive around some of my old haunts, and seeing that my old school had been demolished (!), I made my way to a supermarket. It was still really hot, so nice to get a cold drink and use their toilets.

informal colour and textures of the Sandown Castle community garden
informal colour and textures of the Sandown Castle community garden

More quote content

As I made my way from the supermarket towards the bus, I noticed a small group of youngish people taking a keen interest in my camper. As I got a bit closer I could hear them chatting about the bus, so I asked them if they liked it or not?

A weapon, proper gangster!

In urban street parlance, that would be a yes then! They said it was like something from a car driving game they played. So another entry to add to my previous overheard quote from Deal.

staying on the beaten track
staying on the beaten track

Somewhere new

Heading across Kent to the north coast, the weather slowly began to change. Much more overcast, a bit cooler and some ominous looking rain clouds over to the west. In some ways, this was quite refreshing as the weather for the last few days had been oppressively hot! Today I would be heading over the Sheppey crossing to the Isle of Sheppey for a couple of days. I do love a good bridge crossing. Although not the Millau Viaduct or the Bridge to the Isle of Skye, its good to go somewhere I had not been before. I had found a couple of interesting looking spots that might be worth trying. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

camper friends by the sea
camper friends by the sea

Room for one more?

Tonight’s camp over spot was a shingle bank right by the sea on the north side of the island. As I drove along I noticed a couple of other VW camper vans. A striking blue late bay camper and swish looking T5 camper. I thought I would pull up here to say hello. It’s one of the great things about having a camper van, you get to meet lots of different people. It was good to see it wasn’t just guys that like to get out and enjoy their vans. These two lady owners (friends, Leslye and Tina) also really loved getting out and about in their vans as well.

can I sit here?
can I sit here?

Can I sit here?

As I parked up near them, an older lady made her way up the shingle embankment near me. I asked if she was OK and she replied ‘Yes’. She then asked if she could sit here? Of course, I said ( I don’t own this wide expanse of shingle after all) thinking nothing of it. She then opened her chair and sat literally right there by my cargo doors! At this point, Leslye and Tina were wondering who this lady was? Was it my mum or something? I explained I had no idea who this lady was! They were in stitches! It all became a little awkward (albeit very funny!) as it would be right where I would set up to cook. I didn’t really know what to do or say? Not being sure how long she was going to be sitting there, I was very kindly invited for tea and biscuits with Leslye and Tina.

making new friends by the sea
making new friends by the sea

Eventually, I had to ask if she would mind moving a little bit so I could set my stove up. She said not a problem, but remarked that she had asked initially if it was OK to sit there in the first place! I just had no idea that she literally meant at that exact spot! My bad I guess, so much for any kind of social distancing and getting to know your neighbours!

four-legged furry friend company
four-legged furry friend company

Explosives offshore

Whilst chatting to my new local friends, I discovered a little about the immediate local history of the area. As you looked out to sea, I noticed three objects protruding out of the sea. These were the distinctive three rusty metal masts of the SS Richard Montgomery shipwreck. This was a munitions cargo ship that was wrecked off the Nore sandbank in the Thames Estuary, near Sheerness, England in August 1944. It is said to be carrying a large cargo of munitions. And when they say large, the estimate is approximately 1,400 tonnes (1,500 short tons) of explosives! It’s a significant hazard that no one apparently knows quite what the best way to deal with it is. In the meantime, it just sits there awaiting something to happen…

Richard Montgomery by Clem Rutter
Richard Montgomery by Clem Rutter

Cooling breeze

As the sun began to go down, there was a very pleasant cooling breeze. There had been no breeze for the last few days, so this was a welcome refreshment. Weather reports had said there was going to be a change in weather with thunderstorms predicted. It was still very close and warm, and sure enough, there were a few spots of rain and claps of thunder as the evening drew in. Apart from a few night fisherman, most people were making their way home. Leslye and Tina lived locally, so we said our goodbyes and I set up for the night.

twilight tea by the sea
twilight tea by the sea

Another beautiful cloudscape, another peaceful view out over the horizon. I never get tired of views like this. A very different kind of spot, but a great place for a stopover. The local authority had recently put a few concrete blocks out at a 2.1m spacing to prevent larger motorhomes accessing and using the shingle bank. I’m lucky being a smaller camper, I can access most areas.

another cool cloudscape
another cool cloudscape

More to explore…

Tomorrow’s a day where I want to visit another stopover destination on the island. I just need to explore further south on the island…

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