Updated: Mar 21
Once the caravan was secured on the trailer, I had just a couple of little jobs to do before I was happy that my home could be moved safely.* John popped by at the time and we discussed alternative places that I could park. The most promising was on the other side of the village. With the weather still cold, I thought it prudent to hang about a bit longer, especially as the villagers have made it very clear that they are in no hurry to see me leave.
John and I went for a scout in his car. We looked at a couple of spots, then headed up along a lane called Mountain Street, to the spot that sounded the most promising. It’s quite a long narrow road that serves as part of the North Downs Way. At the end, before turning towards a private estate, the road widens considerably, creating a parking area. It was absolutely ideal; Plenty of room, especially at this time of year.
We then headed back to the village and popped in to see Barry and Donna at the tea rooms for our oft indulgence of, in my case, cream tea. I enjoy popping into the tea rooms. It’s a chance to relax and chat to many of the locals, who likewise, frequent the place to meet friends and neighbours.
At dusk, I tacked down and made our way to Mountain Street and got parked up. I couldn’t be arsed to unhitch the trailer that evening, especially as there was plenty of room. The next morning though, as I was having a cup of tea, a lady stopped by. She asked me to unhitch the trailer as the horses that come by were spooked having to make their way around my combo. I explained that I had turned up late the previous evening and was about to do just as she asked once I had my cup of tea.
Later on, John turned up and we went into the village. On this particular day, there was a lot of excitement. Some dipstick of a so-called lorry driver had ignored the numerous road signs indicating that the village has a 6’6” width restriction. The lorry was a 10t box van. It had apparently almost demolished one of the old houses getting into the village and then had tried to reverse down the side of the pub, sinking into the soft grass verge and memorial garden of the church.
I was asked whether I was able to help in some way. I walked over to have a look. My first reaction was to ask who the idiot was. I quickly realised that getting the lorry out was going to take some doing. “For starters,” I said, “you are going to have to dig.” The wheels had sunk up to the axles. “In order to pull this thing out, you need to create a ramp. You cannot lift the lorry out.”
I was aghast when I saw that the only digging equipment to hand was a plastic snow shovel!
In the meantime, I soon became involved in conversation with a film director. I’ve never heard of him and cannot recall his name. It turned out that they were there filming a ghost story and that the lorry was delivering props, etc. The director said that he once lived in the village. My immediate reaction was to mention that he should then have known better than to direct the lorry into the village! He said that he hadn’t.
At some point a Land Rover turned up and tried to pull the lorry out. That, of course, didn’t work. I reiterated the simple and obvious fact that the lorry needed digging out.
After another hour or so, one of those Mercedes Unimog things turned up. That finally pulled the lorry out. The lorry then parked in the square. Incredibly, what was offloaded could’ve been delivered in a van!
Later that evening, I decided to go to the pub. It was a very pleasant evening; not too busy. Though it had been earlier. The film crew had had their dinner in the pub. It had been quite chaotic. Claire, one of the lovely bar staff, had basically ‘volunteered’. She’s very good at her job. She said that she recognised the leading actress. She looked up the name, but it meant nothing to me. Claire then looked the actress up on the internet and showed me a photo of her. I recognised the face, but couldn’t say what productions she had been in.
I spotted James, husband of Mattt, who’s bath I had enjoyed, in the pub. I bought him a pint and had a chance to have a little chinwag.
The spot in Mountain Street is lovely. Behind me are the grounds of Chilham Castle.
In front, the land ahead, besides a couple of fields, I believe is owned by a bloke called Swire. It turns out that he has a majority stake in the airline company, Cathay Pacific and much more, besides. A quick internet search reveals that his ancestor started a trading company in Liverpool in 1816.
The North Downs Way continues on past me as a footpath.
There are many passers by. All very friendly. I have given out quite a few leaflets as a result. There are often horse riders and people on trails bikes pass by regularly. The bikes are no bother, though. One thing I have noticed though, is that I am out of earshot of the church bells.
I got chatting to a lady one day. She often passes when out jogging. She introduced herself as Matisse. “Interesting name.” I said, “French, like the painter.”
“No.” she said, “After the motorcycle.”
“Even more interesting!”
The next day, Métisse kindly delivered to me a small food parcel.
As you may remember, I have two 19Kg propane gas bottles. One on the go and one spare. The last refill I got was from the farm shop a couple of villages along, at Challock. Since then, I have changed bottles, so needed to replace the empty one. For some weeks I have been telephoning the farm shop to enquire as to whether they have had a delivery from Calor Gas, with the same reply, “No.” The excuse for not delivering is apparently, that they have not the empty bottles to fill! I’m not surprised with the excuse. It may even be true. But then, if Calor honoured their contracts to the public who pay a very large deposit on the bottles, they would have more returned rather than dumped on the side of roads, etc. The fact is, they constantly refuse to refund the deposit when the bottles are returned and no longer required. They say that they want proof. One would think ‘PROPERTY OF CALOR GAS’ stamped in large letters on all their bottles would be proof enough! Apparently not (?)
Anyway, out of desperation (I didn’t want to run out of gas and have no way of replacing it), I managed to find the distribution centre for this area and even found a telephone number. I telephoned. The man I spoke to gave me the number of a bloke who delivers in the area I am presently in. I telephoned him, a bloke called Adrian. Unbelievably, he said that he would be out to me the next day! The next day, that afternoon, a van pulled up and delivered a refill! He even lifted it onto the back of the truck, before loading my empty into his van. As I paid the delivery driver I asked him what area he covered. "All ME and CT postcodes.”
I then asked, “So, if I’m anywhere within that area whilst on my travels, you’ll deliver to me?”
“Yes.” He confirmed.
*see entry Ashford Borough Council