It was raining in the morning. I chose to wait it out. The forecast was good. Around lunchtime, the rain duly abated. Tacked down and all aboard, we turned left out of the car park and were very soon at Chilham. For such a small village, it has a surprisingly large car park. Assuming that the car park would be busy through the week, I parked well out of the way at the top of the car park.
On the way to Chilham from Perry Wood, I quickly became aware of something not being right. There was a pulling sensation from the caravan. So, as soon as I was set up, I had a look around. I very quickly noticed that the nearside of the caravan was sitting low. I checked the wheel, to discover that the wheel arch was actually sitting on the tyre. Not good! Given the weather conditions, I decided to investigate further the next day.
I wandered into the village where I was directed to a farm shop for groceries. Somewhere in the directions I had misheard the details and took a right before I was supposed to. After some distance, I became convinced that I had gone wrong. I then noticed a family walking towards me. I took the opportunity to ask. Yep, I was going in the wrong direction. I followed the new directions taking me over the railway lines. I then followed the footpath alongside the station. After a bit, I became concerned again. I caught up with a young couple with a small child. I asked about the farm shop. They said, “It’s on the other side.” I had to walk to the next level crossing and go back towards the front of the station.
The farm shop is a lovely little store. I was surprised that I was able to get a decent brand of oat milk. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything for Rowan. I headed home. The quick way! It is a direct ten minute walk along the main road to the car park I was parked in.
I spoke with Michael about the suspension problem. He did some research as I still had not found any decent internet signal. We formulated a basic plan of action. During the conversation, Michael pointed out that I had 840-something ‘followers’ on my WizardSteve Facebook page. He explained that most of them probably don’t realise that I have this blog. The long and short of it was that it became glaringly obvious that I was not utilising the internet to its full potential. We discussed how to remedy that. From now on I will publish my website address more frequently, particularly when posting photographs, and post an excerpt of each new blog post published as and when. Interestingly, I have also received a message from some-one who has also mentioned my not utilising the internet. Unfortunately, due to the terrible internet signal, I didn’t know entirely what the message said. I have since, though. There are some exciting ideas in the pipeline.
I also realised that I had forgot to mention my bit of graffiti. The South African, Michael, has drawn a great little image of Snoopy. I have had to go back and edit that bit in.*
I noticed that there were a couple of vans parked in the car park overnight. Talking to the dustman emptying the public litter bins in the morning, I discovered that van dwellers often parked there. On chatting with a number of the villagers, I found them all to be welcoming and tolerant of my predicament.
Once boosted by another cup of tea, I jacked up my caravan and took the wheel off. I examined the suspension arm and gauged that it had indeed collapsed. I telephoned one of the numbers Michael had sent me. They couldn’t help, but put me on to a company called Leisure Plus. I spoke to a bloke called Steve. Steve was brilliant. He really helped, giving me loads of information and guidance. Unfortunately, I had packed up and had a wash before speaking to Steve, so I resolved to seek out the axle identification markings the next day.
Chilham is a beautiful little village. It has a castle of Norman origins. The castle is presently unoccupied as the most recent occupant died and the property is yet to be subsequently sold.
Outside the castle gates is the village square. The buildings are all over 200 years old, mostly Tudor/Jacobean.
At the opposite end of the square from the castle is the church.
There are little lanes leading from the square.
Incredibly, outside the village is a railway station. There are a number of outlying houses that come under the village parish, as well as the farm and shop. Down one of the lanes is an old post office and village shop. At the top of the lane leading to the car park is a tea room called the Church Mouse Tea Room. I had a cream tea there while making use of some internet signal. The scone was huge and obviously homemade. Excellent tea, too, and great service. The best thing about it was the price! Very reasonable. Well worth a visit. Donna and Barry are the proprietors. They are really friendly and welcoming.
The Whire Horse (14th. c. inn)
Both the North Downs Way and the Pilgrims' Way pass through the village. Interestingly, Augustus Toplady spent much of his childhood in Chilham. If you remember, I parked up beneath the Rock of Ages in Burrington Combe, the very place that legend has it that Mr. Toplady was inspired to write the famous hymn.** Chilham is also oft used as a film location. A number of Agatha Christie stories have been filmed in and around the village.
Outside the castle gates stands an Oak carving commemorating the route pilgrims took through the village on their way to Canterbury. There, I met a man called Mark. We soon got chatting, during which he showed me some of his art; computer art, created using computer technology. Amazing stuff. Unfortunately, he is yet to set up a website or similar.
Later, once home, I decided to move to flatter ground. The car park had not got particularly busy and the signal promised to be better. (It wasn’t!) Besides, I needed to be on flat ground if I was going to perform an axle change.
At dusk, the car park became busy with the village children dressed in fancy dress for Hallowe’en. They were off into the village for an hour of fun.
*see entry Elham Valley
**see entry On the road again - 5 - … … Burrington Combe
NB. As I publish this, I am told that the castle has recently been bought.