25th – 27th December 2021

For Christmas we thought we would do something a bit unusual and whizz off in the van. It transpires that it wasn’t very unusual at all as the Canterbury Camp Site was fairly well booked up. We pitched up at 15:00 on Christmas Day and set up the awning, laid down the ground sheet and popped the roof before taking the woofer for a short walk – in the dark. Spaghetti Bolognaise isn’t our usual choice of Christmas dinner but it was easy and warming. We washed it down with a few beers and a bottle of wine, then watched James Bond’s Spectre on the laptop.

Tilman waiting for his walk
All set up with the awning sloping to one side to spill off the heavy rain

The campsite is part of the Camping and Caravanning Club and, as always with their sites, it was both well run and immaculately clean. The marine equivalent would be mooring in a “Five Anchor Award Winning Marina” like maybe Chichester Yacht Basin. I suppose the only problem with these sites is that they are slightly formulaic. They all seem to have a sign saying “Do not cycle around the toilet block” which seems like a very strange thing to do in the first place. There is something rather exciting about turning up at some weird offbeat campsite at the back of a farm or pub. It is a bit like the joy of arriving at a Bed and Breakfast on a long-distance walk or sailing into a small commercial port in Iceland. So, the Camping and Caravanning Sites are the equivalent of going for a coffee at Nero, Pret or Starbucks, there is nothing at all wrong with them, but there are no surprises, which is either good or bad depending on what the surprises were going to be!

SIX coat hooks on the shower doors – brilliant!

Well, there was one surprise. For the first time ever, the doors to the loos and showers had SIX coat hooks on them! I say again SIX! Bravo for that, a triumph in need of celebration. So often shower blocks which must cost a fortune to build are let down by silly little things like nowhere to hang your gear. Some showers have no benches to sit on and the other day at a swimming room changing room, I went to sit on the tiny bench only to find it was about 14” off the floor, why!

As usual we were the smallest vehicle on the site, probably the only camper van amongst all the white whale motorhomes. Funnily enough it is same when we are sailing, we are always the smallest boat – why is everything getting bigger and bigger?

The immaculately tailored site had hard pitches which were to my mind completely level. This didn’t stop most of the motorhomes insisting on levelling up on wheel chocks. They must be using specialist scientific instrumentation to achieve to desired perfection of levelness. I wonder if it is a: “we spent fifty quid on these chocks, so we are going to use them even if the ground is perfectly level” syndrome. Maybe they play billiards in the evening? As sailors we don’t really care what angle the van is at, I quite often sleep at 30 degree heel on the boat, but at 40 degrees I shout out for a reef to be tucked in, then doze off again.

On Boxing Day, we decided to walk the mile or so into Canterbury. We were rather surprised to see the amount of vandalism on our route into town. At least five cars had their windows smashed, and while strolling through the brand-new Taylor Wimpey estate we were shocked to find about 40 path lights had been kicked over, torn up or even thrown across the road. It was like a battle ground. To be fair, the quality of the lights was dire for something positioned in the “public realm” and I would have thought Taylor Wimpey would have given them a bit of a vandal proofing test first.

Another car with broken window
Car with broken window
There were about 40 of these broken lights
They look like a pretty naff fitting to be in
the public realm. Pretty naff to even be lining

your garden path!

We eventually arrived in town, and it is bristling with stunning architectural gems. I only photographed a few of them because there were thousands to rest your eyes on. We had a light lunch in Patisserie Valerie, which I thought had gone bankrupt but was alive and well and cooking toast again rather than the books. We saw the splendid new Marlowe Theatre and then ambled back to the van. I say ambled because I have a broken toe which is hampering my walking speed.

Interesting tiling
Interesting brickwork
Interesting door!
Interesting House!!
Interesting Street!!!

We watched another James Bond in the evening on the laptop – well it is Christmas.

The following day we explored the little nature reserve attached to the camping site. It makes a fine place to give the dog a short stretch, but we needed a bit more and so we headed back into town. It was really busy with shoppers probably returning all the crap they got given for Christmas. We wandered off to find the Great Stour river and had a stroll alongside watching the ducks struggle to hold their own against the strong stream. Oh yes, I forgot to mention it has been raining fairly continuously for the last few days.

Millstream running alongside the River Great Stour

Our final evening onboard involved eating and drinking all the remaining food and drink and relaxing with our books. The forecast of 44 mph winds overnight prompted us to wind in the awning. One less job in the morning.

Breakfast on my homemade little table

After breakfast we packed up and drove back to London having had a very enjoyable little Christmas break.

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