We hired a car last weekend and went for a drive. We went to Ightham Mote which is a fascinating 14th-century moated manor house in a hidden valley.

Apparently its seclusion saved it from Cromwell’s soldiers who, intent on looting it, lost their way and ransacked another house instead. It eluded us for a while as well as we made several attempts to leave the M25 but always seemed to end up back on it again. On one particular attempt we found ourselves stuck in a traffic jam we had passed going in the other direction. We eventually found it and it was cool.

Seeing as Andrew decided to join the National Trust at Ightham Mote we thought we would make the most of the membership and so we went to Bodiam Castle in East Sussex. This is a beautifully symmetrical castle with a massive moat filled with even more massive carp. There was also a duck with a solitary little duckling. I imagine the giant carp had eaten the others.

Bodiam was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge after he made a mint fighting the French. While it may have had some strategic importance in repelling a French invasion, being quite close to the coast, it is thought he built it mostly to show how loaded he was.

After a light lunch of scones and jam and cream and wasps we headed for the coast and eventually ended up at Dover which also has a cool looking castle but we didn’t visit it. We were looking for the White Cliffs. We arrived at Folkestone not having spotted any White Cliffs yet but we were hungry and so we got some fish and chips and ate it by the harbour. We could see some cliffs in the distance but they seemed a bit brown.

As the sun sank lower in the sky and we were meandering in a fairly random way back to the motorway we finally came upon site that gave us a view of the famous cliffs. I think it was called Saint Margarets Leas. There was a tearoom (closed unfortunately) that had been an old coastguard station and a giant obelisk monument to sailors killed in the two World Wars. We were really quite close to France at this point. So close in fact that our mobile phones thought we were in France and switched over to roaming on the French networks.

There are pictures in the gallery

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