Less miles, more smiles

Sunrise smiles

After a good night’s sleep, it was great to be up with a beautiful early morning sunrise. Last nights blast from the past stopover had worked out really well. Waking up to the dappled sunlight breaking through the trees, and the view over the countryside. Not a bad start to the day.

road trip sunrise to start the day off
road trip sunrise to start the day off

It’s a nice feeling waking up, having breakfast and thinking where shall I travel to today? After a light breakfast, I decided to head towards a community garden I had read about in Deal today. This road trip is about exploring local places that I hadn’t really been to before. Always interesting to visit somewhere new. Less miles, more fun was the idea.

Sandown Castle community boat garden
Sandown Castle community boat garden

Solar power weather

It wasn’t an overly long drive this morning to my new destination. With the windows open, you could already tell this was going to be another beautiful hot sunny day. So after arriving and checking out the lay of the land, I got my flexible solar power panels set up. They really come into their own keeping the leisure battery topped up. When parked up, it’s mainly the fridge/cool box that runs off the leisure battery. In this heat, it was having to work just that bit harder to keep things inside nice and cool. To maximise efficiency and battery life, I use a proper compressor-style Waeco fridge/coolbox. They are excellent. They go down to -18º, whisper-quiet in operation with minimal battery drain. Perfect road trip equipment!

solar power topping up the leisure battery
solar power topping up the leisure battery

Sandown Castle community garden

Today’s stopover was the beautiful Sandown Castle community garden, nestled just behind the seafront at the far end of Deal. The Community Garden has been created by a group of local volunteers. Apparently, the site was overgrown and unloved until they took over in January 2015 when the project began. Now it is a destination worth visiting! There are some interesting before style photos to be seen of it here on Cultivation Street if you are interested? It has been shortlisted for this year’s community garden of the year within the south region!

Sandown Castle community garden
Sandown Castle community garden

Horsebox cafe

Not only is it a fabulous garden, but recently (because of Covid19) a newish converted horsebox cafe has been set up there from Hog and Bean cafe and deli in Deal. It’s interesting to see how businesses adapt to the pandemic. The cafe has a traditional brick and mortar shop in Deal, but with Covid19 restrictions, it becomes hard to operate. Having a cool converted horsebox cafe gives it a new opportunity to sell its goodies in the open air. Great innovation. Historically there was a small beachfront cafe kiosk there, so it now makes the community gardens even more of a destination for people.

Sandown Castle community garden in bloom
Sandown Castle community garden in bloom

Art deco Architecture

This a pretty cool place for a stopover. Classic seaside art deco architecture, a beautiful community garden with a cafe on your doorstep and the sea just behind it. The locals were also really friendly too. They are aware that occasionally campervans and motorhomes might stopover here, and they embrace it. I think they get and understand that it can be a good way to bring extra visitors and tourist money into the local economy. With this in mind, I was keen to try the cafe out for a little spot of brunch. A funky raspberry drink to wash down a mango and stilton sausage roll. Wow, that sausage roll was incredible! They told me they also do a chilli one, but were out of stock that day. Well, that settles it, I’m staying tonight if only to try that tomorrow morning then!

cool art deco architecture
cool art deco architecture

Sitting on one of the garden benches, having brunch in the sun, life was good. Being aware of my lovely surroundings, and the perception that my ‘original survivor’ looking bus can give, I always try to make sure to leave no trace that I have stopped over anywhere. I did not want to be an irresponsible camper. So I often end up trying to leave things a bit cleaner if possible. Disposing of bits of rubbish that have been carelessly discarded. If there’s a bin, use it, or if not, just take it with you. Simples.

plenty of funky succulents
plenty of funky succulents

Cooling off

After a nice chilled start to the day, the temperatures were rapidly rising. There was no breeze to help cool things down a little, so time for an afternoon dip in the sea. So good, I had to do it again later in the afternoon as well. It’s a tough life on the road! It was nice to spend the afternoon just chilling and watching the world go by. Got chatting with a couple of the very friendly volunteers from the community garden. They gave me a little hand-painted stone from the garden as a small souvenir from my visit with the words ‘stay safe’ on the back. After yesterday’s near-miss, very apt!

stunning golden hour skyscape
stunning golden hour skyscape

I love the way my bus looks, but I appreciate it’s not to everyone’s taste! Often people would walk past the camper and make a comment about the camper. I should begin to make a list of the various comments it gets. Today a group of young lads loved my funky typographic table and wondered what the solar panels were charging. When I was making my afternoon cup of tea, another guy walked up to tell me that he thought it was…

‘A perfect looking VW camper, don’t ever change it’

New day dawning

Not a bad view to wake up to in the morning. Looks like it’s going to be another glorious sunny day. I had my early morning porridge and a cup of tea, but from yesterdays experience at the Hog and Bean horsebox cafe, I was excitedly waiting for 10 am. This was the time their food stock deliveries arrived. I was looking forward to trying the Chilli sausage roll today.

breakfast view in the morning
breakfast view in the morning

I asked if they would reserve one for me whilst I went for a morning dip in the sea. Yes, the weather was still really warm and this was the perfect way to cool down. I wanted to make the most of the opportunity, as I understood that the weather was due to change in the next few days.

Hog and Bean seaside converted horsebox cafe
Hog and Bean seaside converted horsebox cafe

Even better

Hard to believe, but yes, todays Chilli sausage roll was even better than yesterdays Stilton and Mango! Hard to believe, but I have a new favourite now. At this rate, I won’t ever leave here! Great brunch-time treat with some Trangia and AeroPress made coffee as I dry off in the sun.

awesome Hog and Bean chilli sausage roll
awesome Hog and Bean chilli sausage roll

More Art deco design

Thought I’d take a stroll along the seafront into more Deal central. There were more interesting examples of cool Art deco design along the way, with these brilliantly over the top shaded benches. Perfect spot to take five from the sun and watch the waves come rolling in.

cool art deco architectural design shade by the sea
cool art deco architectural design shade by the sea

Like most British seaside towns with a pier, it tends to be a bit of a focal point to a seafront. The current reinforced concrete pier is, in fact, the third to be built at Deal. The first one was built in 1838. I was supposed to be 445 feet in length, but only 250 feet were completed due to financial problems. It got washed away in 1857. A new 1100 foot pier began in Spring 1863. It was designed by Eugenius Birch and opened on 8th November 1864. A reading room and salt baths were added in the 1870s and a pier-head pavilion in 1886. Ship collisions in 1873 and 1884 caused damage that was subsequently repaired.

Deals reinforced concrete pier
Deals reinforced concrete pier

Third time lucky

Unfortunately on January 29th 1940, the Dutch vessel ‘Nora’, having been beached following damage by a mine, drifted against the pier, destroying 200 feet of ironwork. Winston Churchill gave the army permission to demolish the pier to allow coastal guns a clear line of sight, leaving only the tollhouses remaining. These were later removed in 1954 as work on the present pier designed by Sir W.Halcrow and Partners commenced. Built from reinforced concrete, the 1026 feet structure was opened on November 19th 1957 by the Duke of Edinburgh.

classic British seaside seafront architecture
classic British seaside seafront architecture

Less miles, more smiles

My stopover in Deal had been great, and I was tempted to stay longer whilst the weather was so good. However, there were some more places I wanted to see, so after another mid-day dip in the sea, I decided to hit the road again…

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