A Travellerspoint blog

Sunny Sussex

East Sussex

sunny 32 °C
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Having had a short weekend trip to Jersey in July, we were tempted to have another weekend away in August. But by leaving it too late we ran out of time to go anywhere, and instead decided to just enjoy a day trip.

Thankfully as the day we'd planned for our day out neared, the weather got good and it was going to be a lovely and warm! We had decided to head down to Sussex, and visit a few different locations we'd not been to before.

We headed down the western side of the M25, and made our way to Seaford for views of Seven Sisters, the beautiful chalk cliffs along the English Channel. These cliffs are 'cleaner' than the White Cliffs of Dover as these ones are allowed to erode and therefore prevent the build up of vegetation.

Seven Sisters

Seven Sisters

The best place to see them is from the Coastguard Cottages on the edge of Seaford, where the headland allows a beautiful side shot of the cliffs. After parking at the car park at Seaford Head, we took a short walk down the hill through the nature reserve towards the cottages. There were a lot of people here already, heading down to the beach for a swim or relax, but we headed back to the car as we had other places to go.

A short drive around the corner, and we made it to Beachy Head, the highest sea cliff in Britain. Consequently, it is the third most common suicide spot in the world, and as soon as we had parked we could see the signs reminding people to speak to the Samaritans instead.

Beachy Head

Beachy Head

There were however beautiful views over the nearby area and we took a short walk along the coast towards Seven Sisters.

On our return we stopped at the small museum before heading back into the car and driving through Eastbourne. We then headed inland to the village of Battle, where the eponymous Battle of Hastings that changed England forever took place.

Battle Abbey

Battle Abbey

We had booked our tickets in advance, and after parking up walked to the gatehouse, which is now the entrance and gift shop. We then wandered into the estate, and started our tour with a look inside the Exhibition Building, where some background history to the battle was explained, before we wandered around the corner to the battlefield.

The Battlefield

The Battlefield

As it was hot, we didn't walk around the field, instead looking from the hilltop. We then walked through the remains of the Abbey, which had been built by William the Conqueror on the spot of Harold's death spot.

Having done a loop of the complex, I then took a walk through the gatehouse itself, including visiting the roof for views down the High Street, which we then took a walk down.

Battle High Street

Battle High Street

By now it was already mid afternoon, and so we headed back towards home - but not before stopping by the Bluewater Shopping Centre outside Dartford, for dinner at a restaurant.

It had been a lovely day, seeing some new things in the glorious weather.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:16 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged sea cliffs history summer Comments (0)

Back To The Past

Channel Islands - Sark & Rural Jersey

sunny 28 °C
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The Channel Islands are a collection of islands located off the coast of France, and made up of two distinct British Territories - the Bailiwick of Jersey, which contains Jersey and some other off shore islands; and the Bailiwick of Guernsey, which contain all the other major islands. Although they are often collectively grouped together, they haven't been united since the 13th century.

We would today aim to get to Sark, the fourth largest of the Channel Islands, and located within the Bailiwick of Guernsey, just a short ferry ride away from Jersey. However not having full confidence things would run smoothly, after yesterday's visit to the Port, we made sure we were there nice and early.

It was relatively quiet when we arrived. We headed to the check-in desk and advised that we had bought through Condor Ferries rather than direct from them. "Oh" the sole lady on the desk said. It wasn't on her system, and so she ran over to speak to someone from Condor. We then spent the next half hour bouncing back and forward between the desks, where Condor stated that they had got us on their system, and had passed this over to Manche Îles; whilst Manche Îles claimed they hadn't received the information from Condor. This wasn't an automated process, and someone somewhere hadn't processed the email with this information. Thankfully we weren't the only ones with the issue, and multiple people were put aside at check in as they also weren't on the system.

As time went on, many of the people at Condor who were helping us left as it was the end of their shift, and we got more and more anxious about whether we would actually make it to Sark. Although the tickets weren't super cheap, as we were here I didn't mind buying new tickets and trying to sort out a refund later - it would be more expensive to come back to Jersey at a later date to visit Sark then. But then, just 20 minutes before the ferry was leaving, the printer started sending out loads of tickets - the processing had finally been done. We received our tickets and were finally able to make our way into the departure lounge, where everyone else was sat waiting!

It had been a long day already and we weren't even on the ferry yet! The small foot passenger ferry would only take an hour to get to Sark, and spent half the time travelling along the beautiful south and west coasts of Jersey, past lighthouses and other defensive infrastructure.

German WWII Defensive Tower

German WWII Defensive Tower

Sark is an interesting island. It was a fiefdom until 2008, and is entirely car free. The island has relatively steep sides, and from the port there are two options to get into the town - either walk up the hill or take the tractor bus for £1.50. Along with most others, we waited for the tractor.

The Tractor

The Tractor

When arriving at the top of the hill it was instantly reminiscent of traditional villages from historical dramas. We walked down the main street past the post office, cafés and shops, enjoying the ambience.

Sark Village

Sark Village

Being a small island it was only half an hour before we arrived at the beautiful La Coupée, the isthmus linking the peninsular of Little Sark with the mainland.

La Coupée

La Coupée

The path sits above a huge ridge with stunning views over the local area, and as far as the island of Guernsey. After spending time here, we headed back towards the town, past many fields as well as the Methodist Church and Cricket pitch.

Views from La Coupée

Views from La Coupée

The weather was hotting up. Although the middle of July is always nice (part of the reason why we had come here this weekend to begin with), there was a massive heatwave coming, with Monday due to be the hottest day in UK history. Even with the sea breeze, Sark was boiling, and any time out of the shade was hard going! After a surprisingly strenuous walk back to the centre of the village, we went to one of the Cafés for a cool drink and a bit of food, before making our way back to the Port.

We took a detour, and headed via Sark Henge, a modern Henge located on the south coast, before heading down the hill to the Harbour.

Sark Henge

Sark Henge

After exploring the older, Creux Harbour, we waited for our ferry return back to Jersey.

Creux Harbour

Creux Harbour

We arrived back with beautiful views of the island, and once again wandered through the town, past the Jersey Cows monument - where they even real?

The elusive Jersey Cows

The elusive Jersey Cows

The next day was our last on Jersey. However as the flight wasn't until the evening, we had lots of time to still explore. Leaving our room and checking out of the hotel, we headed back to the bus station, bought some day tickets and then headed north. We got off the bus a few stops before the end in the middle of nowhere and walked down a track. We then arrived at the northern coastal path and made our way westwards.

Coastal Path

Coastal Path

There were some beautiful views along this rugged coast, but we didn't walk too far. It was already getting very hot, and with some very hilly sections and our luggage in tow it was already getting exhausting. At the next access point we headed back into the interior, and walked the short distance here to the Zoo.

Getting exhausted

Getting exhausted

Andrew met us inside the zoo and whilst on his break gave us a tour of the various enclosures including the Orangutans, Lemurs and Bats.

A shading Orangutan

A shading Orangutan

By now it was already mid afternoon, and so we headed on the next bus towards Mont Orgueil Castle that sits imposingly over the village of Gorey. As it was hot, we decided not to explore the castle in too much detail, and instead took a connecting bus along the beautiful south coast towards St. Helier.

Mont Orgueil

Mont Orgueil

After grabbing a bite to eat, we then jumped on our last bus this holiday, taking us back to the airport. The airport was lovely and cool compared to the warm outside air, and once through security we sat upstairs in the viewing gallery where we could watch the other planes coming in.

The flight home was again short, and as it was a glorious day there were beautiful views over the other islands, the Cotentin Peninsula and Southern England.

It had been an interesting visit to the Channel Islands - lot of unique things to see and do, and we had been fortunate with the lovely weather. A shame we didn't have more time to visit Guernsey, Alderney, or even some of the nearby French ports like St. Malo, but it was a lovely place to visit for a long weekend.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 10:21 Archived in Guernsey Tagged cliffs airport zoo island castle ferry channelislands Comments (0)

A Journey to Jersey

Channel Islands - St. Helier

sunny 22 °C
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In this post* Covid world, travel has restarted - but it is not 2019 again. Being the first summer in three years there is pent up demand, but equally the travel sector has not recovered from the massive lay offs. Add to that the Brexit effects and the virus still lingering in the background to make people ill it's still not easy to travel.

After a lot of time spent at home, we wanted to get away somewhere but had a lot of indecision about where to go that suited us - somewhere warm but not too hot, safe and with decent flight times from Luton. Waiting for the airlines to decide which flights they weren't capable of running after the chaos at Easter and Half Term, it meant a lot of the places we had thought about still hadn't returned to the same amount of flights as in the past. With few exciting places to choose from we had to have a wide open search, and that's when we thought about Jersey.

Although still (sort of) in the UK - to get there it was easiest to fly, and being the middle of July the weather would almost certainly be good - a great place for a long weekend.

We left on Thursday lunchtime and headed up to the airport. It was a relatively quick flight across the South Coast and the English Channel before we made it to the Channel Islands. There were some beautiful views of Alderney, Sark and Guernsey before we flew right over Jersey and landed at the airport.

Alderney

Alderney

By now we could already see that surprisingly for a small island like this, it was relatively hilly. The end of the runway sat on an embankment overlooking the beach below, whilst blustering winds hit us. In anticipation of up to 30C by the end of the holiday, right now vests were a bit optimistic.

When landing we noticed a Jet2 airlines plane next to ours... were there some tropical destinations for these islanders or was this the tropical paradise? (turns out it's the latter.... bad luck!) Entering the small terminal building there was lots of bunting, celebrating the recent Platinum Jubilee.

Arriving at the Tropical Paradise

Arriving at the Tropical Paradise

We then took the bus and after around half an hour we arrived at Liberation Square in the centre of town. This square commemorates the liberation of the island after its occupation during WWII - which we'd explore in more detail tomorrow. From here it was just a 10 minute walk to our hotel. After checking in we then headed over to the nearby supermarket to get bits for the stay before grabbing a quick dinner.

Liberation Square

Liberation Square

By now it was already evening and so we settled in for the night before our first full day on the other side of the Channel.

The following morning after eating some breakfast we headed out back to the bus station and boarded a bus to the War Tunnels. After around half an hour passing First Tower, one of the many defensive towers on the island, we arrived at the tunnels.

First Tunnel

First Tunnel

These tunnels were built by the Nazis beginning 1941, firstly as a barrack and ammunitions store, then later as an underground hospital.

War Tunnels

War Tunnels

It was built by slave labour and although never finished, is now open as a museum detailing the occupation period of the islands from 1940 to 1945. This was the only part of the British Isles to have been occupied during the War, and was a fascinating insight into what could have been.

Inside the Tunnels

Inside the Tunnels

After this we headed back into St. Helier. Once here we walked down to the Port. We had decided to visit Sark on the Saturday but were having issues with the ferry tickets. As there was no refund policy if we caught Covid, we didn't book the tickets until just before going. But after keeping an eye on them, when we finally came to book they suddenly all disappeared from the website - every ticket with the company to any port over the next few days was no longer available. I emailed the company to query this, but after not having heard anything in the meantime we figured it might be worth heading down to the port. I had managed to buy the tickets through Condor Ferries, who although not providing the service directly were taking orders on their behalf.

When we got to the port, it as as we feared. Few people around to speak to. No one at the ferry desk for Sark, and at Condor Ferries' desk, only confirming that our tickets were confirmed at their end, and that we should arrive early as the other company "don't know what they're doing". In the meantime we checked the websites - Jersey's Port website said the ferry was still due, and the actual ferry company had now relaunched their tickets. We'd just have to head down in good time to ensure we'd sort it in the morning.

After this, we headed back to the hotel to change. We had worn cooler clothing as the tunnels were a constant 17C. But when we got back to St. Helier it was much warmer.

We then made our way to the Jersey Museum. The museum detailed the history of the island, from it's Norman rule to the present day, and was worth seeing with lots of exhibits.

The closest we got to a Jersey Cow

The closest we got to a Jersey Cow

After this we headed back across St. Helier for a walk across the now dry causeway over to Elizabeth Castle. Although we didn't go in due to the very overpriced tickets, it was still a nice place to see from the outside.

Elizabeth Castle

Elizabeth Castle

By now it was getting on for early evening and so we headed over to one of the only chain restaurants on the island - TGIs.

After a post meal crash at the hotel, we headed back out into town to meet up with one of Chris's friends - Andrew, who now works at Jersey Zoo. We had a few drinks and a catch up before finally heading back to the hotel for the final time today after a busy day exploring.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 19:06 Archived in Jersey Tagged museum island tunnel plane war ferry channelislands Comments (0)

A Summer's Birthday

Honeymoon - Barbados

all seasons in one day 29 °C
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Having a birthday in February has never been overly exciting, but spending my 30th in a lockdown, not being allowed to go anywhere or really see anyone was a particular low point. This year things had improved and we had ended up booking our honeymoon over my birthday, and so for the first time in my life I could wear shorts on it!

Today was our last full day on board, and a sea day as we headed back to Barbados. As usual we had breakfast, nabbed ourselves some sun loungers and joined in the quizzes. Sitting in the sun and around the pool, I was able to enjoy a summer's birthday for once!

Shorts in February

Shorts in February

After a lovely last day on deck, when we got back to the room I found a card from the captain wishing me a happy birthday. However the imminent end to the trip was lingering, and as the UK's Passenger Locator forms had not yet been abandoned, we were required to fill one, and given guidance of how to complete them as we were in the middle of nowhere. It was one of the few websites the on board Wi-Fi allowed access to - because of course, even in 2022, free Wi-Fi doesn't exist when cruising - no wonder there so few under 50s on board.

Birthday Cards

Birthday Cards

After having dinner, I decided to go for a wander around the ship for a final exploration. Even after two weeks on board there were still parts of the ship I hadn't seen. I went to the back of the ship, but coming across the Covid Isolation cabins, I made a quick dash.

Isolation Cabins

Isolation Cabins

Walking around the highest parts of the ship, there was a section that looked down on the pools covered in AstroTurf. In the night-time darkness I could see something odd and tried to focus my eyes on what looked like a dog!? Then I heard a noise, and realised to my horror, it was actually a couple trying to enjoy some private time.... I made another quick dash and headed back down towards the cabin. There'd been enough shocks for one night!

Up On Deck

Up On Deck

It had been a nice day, and certainly a lot better than last year, however in hindsight I'm not sure I really enjoyed it. There was no internet so I didn't get any birthday greetings, I had few cards as we'd needed to receive them a fortnight in advance to take them with us, I had no birthday cake, and it quite frankly just didn't feel like my birthday - it was like summer! It had felt like I'd missed it, just as we'd missed Easter 2018 when we'd visited Japan over the whole thing.

For half the ship, this was their last night on board, and so to enable this huge logistical challenge to run smoothly, we were required to leave our suitcases outside the cabin by 10pm that night.

Although the flights were not until the evening, and our pick up was not until 2pm, we had to vacate the cabin by 9am. We were allowed to leave the ship, but as additional Covid testing would be required at a charge, and as we had already seen what we wanted of Barbados on our first day, we decided to remain on board for this last day.

We had our breakfast and then went back to the room to collect our last bits. Then at ten to 9 a knock on the door from the maid - "you need to leave the room, it has been booked out from 9:30!". Well, we have until 9 I thought to myself. The door was propped open and we were being chased to leave.

Why should I care if someone has booked out the room for the day - we have it until 9, and why has an occupied room been booked out when half the ship is empty?! Yet another irritation...

We headed up to the pool to enjoy the last bit of heat. However it was an iffy day, and after three rainstorms we gave up trying to sunbathe. Unlike every other day, today we had not been given the newspaper telling us what was going on during the day, but it appeared there was nothing going on anyway. Quite ridiculous when today is the one day everyone was definitely out on deck.

One of the sunny intervals

One of the sunny intervals

At home, Storm Eunice, one of the strongest storms since 1987 was wreaking havoc, and like the St Jude Storm back in 2013, I was instead sunning myself in the Caribbean. The irony of missing hurricane force winds by being in the Caribbean instead...

However we soon got wind of just how much it would still affect us, as the flights this afternoon were all returns of those leaving the UK this morning, which had been affected. Two of the three flights were delayed, whilst the third (to Bournemouth) had been postponed until tomorrow. They would get a £25 onboard voucher, but would not receive their suitcases back despite the overnight delay - I'd rather have gone home!

As we had a long wait until our dinner on the plane and nothing better to do, we decided to head to the fancy restaurant for a final posh lunch. We were given a seat by the window and ordered a tikka buffet. Next thing a nearby table was occupied by another British couple who started chatting to us. They loved cruising, with her loving the ambience, whilst him liking the variety. Azura was nice, but apparently it was nothing like Cunard, with the white gloves!

Lunch Time

Lunch Time

She was lovely, but very very chatty. They asked where we were from, and when we said Luton, she told us she was originally from Hemel Hempstead - coincidently the town where I work. It all now started to make sense... she then proceeded to tell me all about Hemel in the 80s before she had left, like the Butcher's on The Ramp and asked me if I was in "the Hemel FB group". Of course I wasn't - I just work there.

After a lovely last meal on board, we headed back to the pool for a last bit of sun, and dipped our feet in the pool. We said goodbye to our Quiz friend, and then headed down to the other restaurant where everyone on our flight was waiting for the airport transfer.

Before long we were leaving the ship, getting on coaches and making our way across the island to the airport. Only this time we'd actually be heading inside the terminal building. After being wished that my birthday yesterday was nice at passport control, we were soon inside the terminal and before long sitting at the gate waiting to board. By now it was exhausting. It had been a long day, and our flight was still a few hours from leaving.

Goodbye Summer

Goodbye Summer

After a change in gate, we eventually managed to board the plane, and with many Grannies on board, for the first time ever we ended up being the first people to board the plane. After the drama of the flight tickets, we found our new seats were actually Premium Economy, and were reclining seats! When boarding was finished, surprise surprise, there were tonnes of free seats, including the entire row behind us, and several others in the vicinity. An absolute joke considering the aggro we'd been through a few days ago.

Annoyingly, the first round of service on board was for a glass of champagne, and so by the time the actual dinner came round I was too exhausted to eat. They asked if I as ok, to which Chris responded, "he's just shattered". The flight was only 8 hours and so overnight was tough going. It was now midnight Barbados time, and so 4am UK time.

I don't do well on overnight flights, struggling to sleep, and so by the time the 'breakfast' came round a few hours later, I was awake and ended up being one of the few on board who actually took it - at last my jet lag was sorted! Not long later we were landing at Gatwick, and after two weeks of acclimatised Caribbean heat it was freezing! We collected our suitcases and noticed that if we hurried, we could make the next fast train back to Luton.

We ran with the suitcases, made the next shuttle to the other terminal and arrived at the train station with a few minutes to spare before the next train. And then we waited... with there being a lot of damage from yesterday's storm there were knock on effects still, including our train being late. When it eventually did turn up it was decided that the train would in fact now stop at most of the stations it was planning to whizz through. In the end, we eventually arrived back in Luton around 45 minutes later than planned, and so by the time we got back home I only just about made it to bed for a nap before I collapsed... what a long journey...

It had been amazing to finally get on our honeymoon, and amazingly it had all gone to plan. I wasn't a cruise convert - I would go on one again, but equally I'd also go on a normal fly/hotel holiday too. It's just a shame that P&O were unable to provide a good quality holiday for us. I'm sure it was mostly because of Covid, but equally we had paid a lot of money and not received as good service as we should have. Maybe in a year or so when things are more settled they'd provide a better service.

Posted by kmmk17 16:47 Archived in Barbados Tagged airport sun caribbean birthday plane covid Comments (0)

The Scenic Spice Isle

Honeymoon - Grenada

all seasons in one day 30 °C
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After a very long and stressful day yesterday, this morning was another early start as our tour was leaving at 7:30am. We had arrived on our final new island, and the most southern on the trip - Grenada, and we would be going on an exciting tour for the tastebuds.

After getting up for breakfast, we headed out to yet another dark cloud, and braced ourselves for some possible showers whilst watching the MSC Sea View (the same ship we had seen back in Naples a few years earlier) park up next to us.

MSC Sea View arriving

MSC Sea View arriving

Before long our tour guide arrived, we boarded a minibus, and started heading into the town. We drove past the bus station, market and stadiums before heading up a very steep and windy road into the mountains.

The Winding Roads

The Winding Roads

Grenada was exceptionally lush, with green vegetation everywhere. Although only around 5km from the sea, we were now at around 600m above sea level and we stopped at the Grand Etang National Park, where there were views of the lake in the crater of the volcano that formed the island.

Grand Etang Lake

Grand Etang Lake

There was also a little museum that gave a bit of history to the national park, and detailed the effects that Hurricane Ivan had had on the ecosystem back in 2004.

Visitor Centre

Visitor Centre

We then began to head down the other side of the mountain, where the sun finally began to shine. We headed past the river tubing sites before eventually arriving at the Belmont Estate in the north of the island.

This former plantation is famous for it's chocolate, which they both grow and produce. We saw all the stages of chocolate from growing on the trees, to harvesting and production.

Cocoa Pods

Cocoa Pods

We were shown what the cocoa pods look like, we tasted the pulps, and then saw how they roast the beans to produce the cocoa powder, before being offered some hot chocolate from their own site.

Cocoa Roasting

Cocoa Roasting

Then we headed into the factory and saw how they turned the powder from the beans into chocolate, before finally getting to taste the different types on offer which they also sold.

Mixing the Chocolate

Mixing the Chocolate

After this interesting stop, we headed along the east coast of the island, stopping off en route for a rum punch.

Our tour guide and driver used to work as a chef on Grenada, and had the nickname 'Soup'. Everywhere we went everyone seemed to know him, and shouted out "Hi Soup!"

After a refreshment, we headed south to a rum distillery, where they showed us how they turned sugar cane into alcohol. Sadly these days, they don't actually grow any sugar cane on Grenada anymore, and instead this is all now imported from abroad. We had a tour of the rickety old factory, which was a little unnerving and must have broken several European safety standards!

The Distillery

The Distillery

We then headed into the shop where we had the opportunity to taste the rum they produce, at various different strengths, and infused with many different flavours. 35%, 70%, pure, passion fruit and chocolate cream amongst others.

Rum Tasting

Rum Tasting

It was a really interesting experience, and after a lot of scenery and beaches, it was really nice to get a different feel to the Caribbean here on the Spice Island.

We had a brief chat with the owner of the factory, who told us she used to live in Enfield(!), but had left and moved to Grenada as her husband owned his own rum factory! We then headed back to the minibus, where we drove back through parts of the capital, which was incredibly hilly!

Grenada had been one of the strictest Covid islands, with only excursions being allowed for cruise tourists. However a few days earlier, they had relaxed their rules and so we were able to have a quick wander around unaccompanied. We headed out of the port building and went for a short stroll around the portside streets.

The Sendall Tunnel

The Sendall Tunnel

By now it was only mid afternoon, but with the early start we had already been out for around 6 hours! We had had a very good tour encompassing the island, and after buying some souvenirs in the terminal building shops we headed back to the ship. It then began to hammer down and so we made a run for it back to the ship. A rushed end to what were going to be our last steps on dry land before the end of the trip.

Tonight was also the last of the four black tie events. We once again went for a fancy meal, this time finally managing to get ourselves an Amuse-Bouche!

Tonight's Menu

Tonight's Menu

Posted by kmmk17 14:44 Archived in Grenada Tagged sea chocolate lake scenery caribbean meal rum Comments (0)

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