Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Bay that never was …

After leaving Canterbury, we drove to Ramsgate, an important ferry port east of Deal. I had never been to Ramsgate and was curious to see the town.

It was a big turn-off. Despite its beautiful location at the foot of a cliff and its fine sandy beach, the town looked gloomy and shabby. I suppose this was mainly due to the port activities and the ship yard. There was a lot of rusty iron, concrete, ancient wood and a smell of petrol in the air.

We walked down the quay and were intrigued by what we saw on both sides of it. On the right there were the wharf and a ship dredging the entrance to the harbour. On the left, on the sandy beach in front of what looked like a casino or some amusement hall, youngsters were having a swim in the sea. Two completely different worlds!

As the town didn’t appeal to us, we didn’t stay long and drove in the direction of Sandwich. Teresa had told us about Sandwich Bay, a tidal bay and ornithological paradise, where she regularly takes her two collies, Megs and Polly, for long walks. After the industrial gloom of Ramsgate we could do with a bit of nature and panoramic sea views.

We carefully followed the road signs and instructions on Mats’ GSP. This led us through some fine country lanes, until … the car that we had been following, stopped at a red and with barrier. A man standing by the barrier stepped up to the driver in the car. While we were waiting, we noticed a ‘private property’ sign next to the barrier and a board announcing an entrance fee of 7.90 Pounds. We could hardly imagine that Teresa would pay that much money just to walk her dogs, so we assumed we had come the wrong way. We therefore turned the car and drove off, hoping to find another road leading into the bay. We never found it and before we knew it, we were back on the main road leading towards Deal.

All in all our day’s outing wasn’t very successful: we didn’t get into the Canterbury cathedral, Ramsgate was a real turn-off and Sandwich Bay will remain a mystery. We weren’t disappointed or sad though, as we did have a splendid lunch at Deeson’s and we really enjoyed each other’s company and the drive in the country.

Later that evening, during dinner with Teresa and Sandy, they confirmed that the barrier we had seen was the official entrance to Sandwich Bay and that local residents could buy a season ticket costing 80 Pounds, which gave them unlimited access to the park all year round. Moreover, there was a little side road, through the sand dunes leading into the bay that only the locals knew of. When we mentioned this the next morning to our host at the B and B, he confirmed the existence of the off-the-beaten track road and even showed it to us on a map. But by then it was too late, because half an hour later we were leaving Deal for the final destination of our journey, Charing … and more adventures, including meeting blogger friends Veronica and Sue …


Mark said...

It's never "too late". You can go again, one day, if you want.
Your Friend, m.

Niall & Antoinette said...

Martine, what a shame but at that price I would have turned back too! BTW it was lovely to see the Ardennen again--even if only from the car! Als we een keer via Brussels rijden laat ik het je weten.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you Martine about Ramsgate, it's not very nice at all these days. There is high unemployment in that part of Kent, which doesn't help. It certainly needs some help to regenerate the place. The next time you come over, Broadstairs is worth a visit, perhaps you went there in your teens. Looking forward to your next installments!

ladybird said...

Mark, I hope to return to Deal in 2013. So I'll definitely try to get into Sandwich Bay and do some bird watching :)!

Antoinette, Yes the Ardennes are beautiful. It's my favourite part of Belgium, especially the area around Bastogne as well as Bouillon. En vergeet het niet ... altijd welkom! Laat maar iets weten.

Veronica, No, I've never been to Broadstairs. But I'll certainly going to follow your advice and go there the next time I'm in Deal. Thank you!

digitam said...

its nice sharing here,
you had a great trip. Nice pictures. I also heard Ramsgate, an important ferry port. I am also planning to visit places around Ramsgate. Let me share some details on major places to look at there and also share some more personal experiences you had in other trips.

Craig said...

I've never been to Ramsgate Martine and now I'm pretty sure that I never will! Too many pretty towns around to waste our time on others! I'm always interested in the diversity in English counties... from the sublime to the not so, quite quickly. I suppose most countries are like that.

ladybird said...

Digitam, Thank you for posting a comment. I'm glad you enjoy the blog and the photos!

Craig, You're right about the diversity in the UK and elsewhere. Although Belgium is a very small country, we have everything: seaside, beautiful cities like Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Leuven, Liége, hills, woods ... and ugly cities with a rich industrial heritage though.