Perhaps I should have ended the last blog post with ‘We are going home now, we may be there sometime’ But I would prefer to think of it as a commercial break, albeit an unenforced 15 month bloody long horrible one. Looking back at our last trip, Covid does gets mentioned. I had the bright idea of if everyone in the world just stayed at home for 2 weeks then it would go away. All OK in theory but of course in essence totally impractical and unworkable. It takes no account of key workers who had to carry on and shows the extent of my naïvety. But back then I just assumed the clever people in positions of authority would figure it all out and we would all be fine. But it seems the world is run by people even more naive and idiotic that me and that’s saying something. Covid has proven to be a wicked heartless enemy striking indiscriminately anyone and everyone and sadly leaving to the loss of life of far far too many. It will probably continue to dominate our lives for the months and years to come. I was going to have a whole post devoted to the Covid months but I have struggled to find the right tone and words. Some things have made me angry and some have even made me tut with annoyance. But very very fortunately we have come through hopefully the worst of it together. If I write anymore then it all becomes quite political. All I would say is that I would not want to have been in the Governments shoe's making decisions during this, and for this at least we should say thanks to those who did step forward.
The day had arrived and finally we are off again.
As had happened previously I now wasn’t really wasn’t keen on going. This time for entirely different reasons. Finally the weather had changed and it was going to be the first day this year we could have finally sat outside in the sunshine. I had also just started another big garden project and left a mess behind along with a ton of other jobs that now needed doing. Typical but nevertheless our bags were packed and we were ready. It would be good to get away and spend some quality time with Karen again.
Our first stop was only after 15 minutes as we called into see Barry & Ellie before we left for the week. It was lovely to be finally able to go in through their house to sit in their garden. We quite lost track of the time and so about 90 minutes later we finally started the next leg of our 168 miles to Battle in Sussex.
This was to be our first long journey out of Norfolk for our new car, after all we had only had it for the past 10 months! It was very comfortable and coped well with the motorway driving. I was finally able to utilise the Adaptive Cruise Control in earnest. It was super impressive and super easy. The car slowed and accelerated at ease when cars appeared or disappeared in front of us. All I literally had to do was steer with no foot movement onto the brake or accelerator.
The journey was not bad considering it was midday on a Saturday Bank Holiday weekend.. There were three holdups on route but we kept moving at all times and arrived only about 30 minutes later than planned. Karen slept for about a hour as we went over the Dartford and snored peacefully next to me. I listened to Pick of the Pops on Radio 2 for some reason being presented by Noel Gallagher. He didn’t sound impressed when he had to play 7 Drunken nights by The Dubliners.
As we went along I realised that I had not packed our small rucksack that we like to take with us on a daily basis to carry anything we need whilst out and about. Still if that was all I had forgotten that wasn’t too bad. My packing had felt all wrong as I had got out of my usual packing routine.
We found the Bannatyne Spa Hotel easily enough on the outskirts of Battle. Our first impressions were positive and it reminded us of the Champneys resort we had stayed in previously. We were in Room 15 on the first floor which seemed small but perfect;y acceptable. We left our bags in the room and went to sit out on the garden terrace in the sunshine. It was all rather lovely. Whilst other couples sat with their champagne bottles and cocktails we opted for two large glasses of iced tap water. We sat with our phones and MacBook. The Wifi wasn’t great but I put that down to the fact we were sat in the rather pretty garden.
After going back to our rooms, Karen ran herself a bath and got herself ready to go out to explore. We drove into Hastings and found free parking on the road. We had booked our first Pizza Express for the year and soon found it. It felt safe inside and we had our usual of Garlic Bread with Mozzarella followed by Salads. They were very good, quite expensive but worth it. After this we walked through Hastings centre to the promenade. The centre felt sad and tired. It was probably that way before Covid but the past year had really finished it off. Boarded up shops after shops followed each other. I don’t know how town centres will reinvent themselves but they need to soon as what little is left will soon be gone as well.
The promenade though was wide and really nice. The tide was out leaving a low shoreline beyond a high line of stones. There was lots of people walking and sitting on the stoney beach enjoying the last of the sunshine.
We walked out toward the pier and then walked out onto it. This was very unlike the piers in Norfolk. It was so very wide. At the end there was an open air bar with dozens of picnic benches and loud music with the speakers cleverly pointed out to the sea so as not disturb anyone. I don’t know if it was there pre Covid but it was proving very popular now. We didn’t stop though and carried on walking.
Back at the Hotel I started on this blog whilst Karen watched some of Jane MacDonald Cruising. Watching it proved difficult as the TV signal was very weak on most channels and the picture kept breaking up. This was disappointing considering this is a 4 star hotel. We also opened a bottle of Jam Shed wine that Graham had introduced us to and we had brought with us. It was delicious and is rapidly turning into my favourite Red wine. As we got ready for bed I thought I should sort out the charging of our phones and watches. Whoops. I had packed all the wires and plugs into a travel pouch this morning for our trip but somehow the pouch had not made it into my case. I was so angry with myself. Of course tolerant Karen made no fuss of my mistake at all and barely mentioned it. Eventually I found a spare but a bit dodgy phone cable tucked away in my laptop bag which meant I could at least try and get some charge into Karen’s phone overnight. The cable was temperamental to say the least. When the phone jolted upon receiving a text at midnight I struggled for ages to get it to take a charge again. Whilst I had had a nice day, I was not happy with myself for my lack of preparedness. Still tomorrow would be a new day and surely there would no other things to moan about…...