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Cats, Cathedrals and Ciders: The South of England: Day 3

06 Jun

Before waking up I first dreamt I had woken up at 6am, and then in the next dream I woke up at noon. Waking up at 9am, for real, seemed like a perfect fit. After 13 hours of sleep I felt great. On the walk to Caffe Nero we stopped at Wilko to pick up a converter. Based on the window display we assumed Wilko would carry such a product, it kind of looked like a small cheap department store. A desperate search ensued but eventually we found it in the hardware section near some light switches and copper wires. I thought Caffe Nero would be more like a donut-coffee shop than a fancy-latte-coffee shop but I was too hungry to really care that they did not serve drip coffee. The sticky toffee muffin really hit the spot.

As we walked back to the hotel we noticed the old city walls of Canterbury…and realized how had we not noticed them the day before?! We had been completely oblivious in our jet-lagged stupor.

We drove to Brogdale Farm to see the orchard collection of apple and pear trees. On the way we saw a pheasant in a field. At first the orchard was underwhelming, until we started following the tracks of the tour train which led us to the more picturesque segment of the orchard. Some of the trees were starting to bloom and it was beautiful. The farm also had a few small shops, one of which sold cider and beer. I bought a pint of the cider, I got a discount because the default size is 2 pints or 4 and there wasn’t enough. Given I would have to drink it that night (it needs to be refrigerated otherwise), I was totally fine with it. I was looking forward to the cider, it was made on-site with apples from the orchard. I also sampled the elderflower cider and it was some of the best I had ever had.

Driving to Sissinghurst Castle was not much fun. There was street parking on small streets, so whenever there was a car parked the street effectively became one way and we had to take turns with oncoming traffic. Then there was a car blocking our lane because they were letting an old man out in front of a restaurant. From the looks of it he would not have managed the walk from the parking lot, so it was ok. We passed some sheep and lambs in a field. Little did I know what a common sight this would become.

Sissinghurst Castle was not really a castle, but it was still really cool to see. There were very pretty gardens, a few of them organized by colour (i.e.: the white garden). In a tower overlooking the moat there was a small, cozy library. On the information pamphlet it said that there was a farm, I had been hoping to see some cows and pigs. Alas, there was no farm to be found. I did see a few sheep. We walked by the lake and around the dock you could see all the fish gathering, clearly they were regularly fed here. It would have made a great fishing spot.

The cafeteria did not have any appealing food, it kind of reminded me of the IKEA restaurant. For now we had Jelly Babies in the car to snack on. It turns out that the Jelly Babies all have really funny names.

Our next hotel, in Brighton, was voted most improved in 2012, this made me worry. We got to our room and it was a bit warm. There was no air-conditioning unit to turn on. The window did not have a screen on it and I was not going to open it and let bugs fly in. No sooner had I walked away from the window, a giant wasp appeared on the curtain. It turns out the previous people had opened the window. I immediately panicked and hid in the bathroom. Eventually the wasp went into the lamp and started grooming itself. I opened the window so it would fly out, but instead a bee flew in. Brent caught the honey bee with a cup and let it out. Back to the wasp, it had settled and the only way to get it out of the lamp would be to agitate it. I suggested putting a cup with a little bit of cider just below the lamp to attract the wasp, but it could not care less. I resorted to cowering in the corner. Eventually the wasp flew down onto the desk and Brent caught it in a cup and it let it go out a window in the hallway. I would not have been able to sleep had that wasp been left in the room.

Our hotel was not in downtown Brighton as parking would have been a nightmare. It was not that far to walk. We still had not eaten lunch and our dinner reservation was not until 7pm. Brent had looked up good pubs and we stopped in at New Laine pub for a pint and a quick late lunch, it was 5pm already. We split a plate of nachos. I had seen a bottle on another table, Old –out Cider, I assumed stout. I ordered the passionfruit and apple flavour, it was sweet and not very cider-y but so refreshing. It turns out it had been called Old Mout, and it the label says it is always mispronounced. Hah.

The streets of Brighton were full of people and none of them knew how to walk properly: taking up the whole sidewalk, suddenly stopping, walking incredibly slowly. It was unbelievable.

We walked down to the beach and to the pier. The beach was more like a pile of pebbles but that did not seem to stop people. We saw a guy walking about with a metal detector. He had a shovel, you could tell he was serious. Brighton Pier was the epitome of tackiness. Bright carnival rides, music, food booths, arcade games and even a casino games section. I gambled 50 pence on a slot machine and lost, it was still worth it. There were two arcades and inexplicably the first one was far busier than the second, it did not make any sense. There was one ride that was stomach-churning to even watch. It whipped you back and forth and upside-down and I could not even watch. It was fun watching as a drunk guy tried to ride the mechanical bull, he was off it within 5 seconds.  We decided we would have lunch on the pier the following day. As we were leaving. Everybody by the Backstreet Boys was playing and I declared my love for the tacky pier.

We still had time before dinner so we wandered the lanes looking at all the shops and restaurants. We saw some true British drunks. One guy tried to sell us his friend’s shirt for a tenner. At first we had no idea what he was saying, it was only after he repeated himself as we walked away that I realized he meant 10 quid. It was odd. We passed a cute little teashop but it was closed. It was amazing how many fine jewelry stores there were, how did they all manage to survive, there were more of them than any other shops and in such a small area.

We had dinner at English’s, who are renowned for their oysters. We ordered two of each oyster (3 types total). They were delicious, some of the best I have ever had. For the main course I had a dressed crab. It was weird though, the egg was on the side, so was the mayonnaise. Why did they not mix all the ingredients together? It was what I had expected when I ordered it. Brent’s sea bass fillet won by a mile. I had wanted to get ice cream for dessert but the place I had scoped out earlier was closed. On the way back to the hotel I stopped in at the grocery store and found Tea Cakes. They turned out to be Viva Puffs but coated with rich milk chocolate, making it impossible to eat more than 2 at a time. There were no good chip flacours at the store, for some reason the Doritos were only in a 6-pack of mini bags.

Walking back to the hotel I saw a girl who seemed to be the epitome of everything Brighton: pink fur jacket, hair down and messy and a mini skirt. We passed another lady who knew how to spend a Saturday night: she had a plastic bag with beers and a can of Pringles. We stopped at the gas station for chips. We grabbed a mini bag of Walker’s marmite flavour (expectation: salty and gross) and Worchester sauce flavour (expectation: salty and like a lame version of BBQ). Alas, by the time we got to the hotel my stomach was hurting, the chips would have to wait. The shower was super lame, barely any water came out. I spent the rest of the night in bed reading until 10:30pm- barely, I was so tired.

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