May 2021 - Day 2 - Let the Battle commence
Despite sleeping with the window wide open it had been a very warm night in our room. Karen thinks the kitchen may be below us and the heat maybe rising.
We got up and got ourselves ready. The bathroom I decided had been designed to look good rather than practicality. The shower was in the bath which is as normal. However the bath had very high sides. I have limited bend in my left leg and it was quite difficult getting in and out. Not providing a rail or anything made the matter worse. Karen had the same problem with her even shorter legs. Before arriving at this Hotel we had been asked to book a slot for breakfast and we had gone for 8.30am each. At that time we arrived in the impressive looking conservatory to be shown to our table. It all started so well. We were given what was obviously a reduced menu to choose from for breakfast and there was unsurprisingly no opportunity to help yourself to any cereals or pastries. We ordered and waited. Whilst waiting at the table I tried to login to the Wifi on the iPad to plan our day as my phone was now taking its turn in being charged in our room. The Wifi clearly did not reach as far as the Conservatory either. I was super unimpressed and started to question Duncan Bannatynes business running ability. Perhaps if spent less time on his facelifts and more time on his hotel I would be happier. As I was now unoccupied whilst waiting for my Salmon Royale I started looking at the area about me more closely. This caused more annoyance. It was not good. Dead flies, cobwebs, peeling paint, missing bits of window ledge and mould on the inside of windows was all around me. Now I know that Hotels have had a bad time recently but the problems were much older than the pandemic. I am not sure when they were last inspected for their 4 star rating but I would be amazed if they kept it next time around. An inspector would have a field day. Where were the standards and pride in the place. Now I was annoyed with Duncan for not only his facelifts but also for managing to find time to get married for a 3rd time to a ‘bimbo’ who is 32 years younger than him rather than checking on the state of his hotels properly. Breakfast arrived and my Salmon Royale was good. But, and yes there is a but and it relates to the Toast that we ordered separately. We were only given one piece each. One piece, I repeat one piece I looked at it with disbelief until I realised that everyone was getting the same one slice each. Now I know that waste is not good but surely 2 pieces of toast is not going to ruin the environment. I reckon most of it would be eaten anyhow. Try as I might I could not attract anyone over to ask for more and so I eventually gave up. I shook my head all the way back to the room muttering one piece of toast I cannot believe it. However we were finally on a proper holiday and heading to start with to Battle Abbey the site of the famous Battle of Hastings. The previous evening before retiring I had booked timed tickets for 10am. We parked up and I grudgingly paid the £4 parking moaning that the £13 we had paid each to get in should have covered it. After a quick walk up the high street we made our way in. They had no record of our tickets. I found them on my barely charged phone. They pointed out they were for the day before. I said no that’s not possible as I had only booked them last night and surely the system would not allow me to book retrospective tickets. But it does and I had. Good job I was with the new tolerant Karen who smiled and barely flinched at all. What rubbish booking system works like that? What testing was done? Why was I such an idiot and not checking the date when booking? Fortunately the very sweet and helpful girl just moved our tickets to the correct day without fuss. Another thing to beat myself up about. This trip was going so well. We started at the visitors centre where we watched the film about the Battle of Hastings. It was very well done and I not only understood it but enjoyed it as well. We set out on the 40 minute walk around the battle site with our audio commentary devices. It was fascinating. King Harold seemed like a decent bloke and everyone loved him (that is apart from not giving the throne to William as promised). William won, possibly by a fluke arrow or possibly not, and the course of history was changed forever. He became know as William the Conqueror for obvious reasons. This must have been an enormous relief to him as before that because his parents were not married he was known as William the Bastard. He was not fond of that name and was to prone to chopping off peoples hands and feet if the name was used in his presence. I actually found it all very intriguing and fascinating, which is strange as this kind of history normally washes over me. The abbey that William had built to commemorate the battle was of far less interest.
We stopped at the cafe for a quick bite and drink. Whilst there we decided to join English Heritage who looked after the site. If we did so whilst here we would get our entrance fees returned along the hated car park charge. I worked out that it would be cheaper if we both joined separately as students and paid by DD as then the membership would last for 15 months rather than 12. However Karen’s student card had expired and so I had to renew that first. The girl at the cash desk was bemused by my request but happily sorted us out. So we got back a third of our combined membership costs immediately. We figured that with our other UK trips this year it should more than pay for itself. Do I hear cries of how can you both qualify as students? Well there was a loophole (that has now been closed) that allowed anyone to register with the OU for free courses and then apply for membership of the NUS. Whilst this has now been closed if you were an existing student you can just extend the length of the course. Karen has now been studying Politics for 6 years - apparently. The cost of membership we normally get back 3 fold each time she has a new pair of glasses from Boots which gives students a discount of 25%+. Before we left the village of Battle we went to a Tesco Express to but some sandwiches for lunch and then headed to Bateman’s - home of Rudyard Kipling. Karen was very keen to visit, I much less so. This was a National Trust property and we had booked in advance. Last year we had taken out NT membership but only in my name as we really just wanted to use the car park sticker in Norfolk. For here though we both needed to be members otherwise it was another £13 admission. I had written to NT before we left asking to change my membership to joint but they hadn’t responded (ironically they finally did once we were in the gardens). Fortunately Graham had came to the rescue and Karen just used Jo’s card for the afternoon (which I had a copy of on my phone). The gardens themselves were very pretty. Karen wanted to tour the house. I could not think of anything worse and my mind was made up by the enormous queue to do so. Instead I found a lovely comfy seat in the gardens and watched the world go by as I waited. I knew the house would have just made me angry. I would have suggested they kept the best bits in one room, put everything else in the skip and then used the house for something useful like a coffee shop. The reason for the delay in getting in was that you could only have one ‘bubble’ in each room. In each room was a volunteer who told you about the room. Karen therefore got an individual personalised tour. I got a lovely rest in the glorious sunshine. She was pleased she had done it but said it wasn’t fantastic. We had a wander around the rest of the gardens, had a cuppa from the cafe and made our way back to our nice, expensive and probably not worth it Hotel. However upon arrival they did start to redeem themselves. I asked at Reception if they had a spare Apple Watch charger and they did! Not only that but we had found phone 2 old phone charger cables I had tucked away as spares in the car. We were saved. For a meal tonight we both fancied Pizza which was ironic having been to Pizza Express the night before and nothing them. We decided upon a takeaway from Rustico Italiano in Battle. We drove the short distance and I found a 30 minute parking slot. We walked across the road to the restaurant. We were amazed when we opened the door as it looked nothing like the pictures we had seen which made it appear like a cheap plastic takeaway. This place had a real good vibe and atmosphere and we were greeted warmly by the manager who was obviously Italian himself or putting on a great accent. We immediately decided to eat in. The food was supposedly Neapolitan Streetfood and we could’t wait to order. Then I remembered I only had 30 minute parking so had to rush out to move the car which the waiter didn’t quite understand what I was doing as I left. Upon my return the pizzas were served. Wow, they were really great and we thoroughly enjoyed them. With our tummies full we made our way back to the Hotel with a cheery heart after a really good first full day away.