Brighton Beach, Bodiam Castle and The Moor Hawkhurst
Click on the pictures to see larger views, with captions.
I awoke to a stiff warm breeze streaming in the bedroom window as the sun barely started to show. Excited by all the events planned for this day I was eager to get started. Well in spirit anyway. My body did not share the enthusiasm of what the day may bring. It was screaming "Go back to sleep you jerk! I'm tired!" To which the excited spirit replied "Oh shut up! We'll take a shower and you will be fine! GET UP!" Up I got. Rolled out is a better way to describe it.
After making the bed I started rummaging through my suitcase for the perfect outfit to match my mood. Failing to find anything that said "Geriatric Dr Who Fan" from the dwindling pile of items on the Clean and fresh side of the case I settled for a black pullover. Having packed for a slightly cooler climate I exhausted the light and airy stuff long ago. Going to the beach on a hot day in a black pull over shirt. No one will ever know I'm a tourist!
My cold shower did indeed perk me up enough to stop whining to myself, good thing; I was getting tired of listening to it. I grabbed my orange drink and clicked on the TV to await Matt and Sarah. It wasn't long before they came down the stairs appearing to be in far better shape then me. Youth! We had the general chitchat over tea and orange drink until the phone rang. Simon was outside and couldn't find a parking space. We grabbed our stuff and dashed out the door to meet him on the street.
The ride to Brighton Beach took a bit longer then we had anticipated. Traffic was stopped several times in some small villages for reasons I'm still not clear on. I'm sure Simon (the driver) was not pleased with the traffic but it was a great opportunity for me to see the sights and enjoy the little things we would have missed speeding by. By the time we got to Brighton it was a steady stream of bumper-to-bumper cars. We passed the famous Brighton Beach Pavilion at a walking pace so I had a rather nice tourist viewing. We made our way to a NCP car park and completed the journey to the beach by foot.
Matt navigated us through the tiny shop lined back roads to emerge on the access way directly above the famous beach. It was a beautiful sight. Far different that any other beach area I have been to before with large stones in place of sand, turquoise colored wrought iron railings and piers jetting out from the shoreline on the left and right of us. We lingered at the top of the entrance taking in the view before we headed down to a shooting location from one of my favorite stories "The Leisure Hive".
Feeling a bit out of place in my long pants and black shirt among all the holiday seekers in bathing suits, we walked about pointing and taking photos. There were little islands of beach chairs scattered about the beach, apparently for rent by the hour. I plopped my behind in one of the chairs and recreated the famous opening scene from the story where the Doctor dozes on the beach as Sarah played the part of Romana frolicking with K9. We took the pictures quickly to avoid being rousted by the chair attendants.
It was time to get some food (we hadn't eaten yet that day). But not before I collected my authentic prop from the shooting of "The Leisure Hive". A Rock! A Rock from the Beach! Yes! it was used on the show! It's the same beach. The beach was used in the shooting. So this is a REAL prop from the show! It's closer to the real thing then some of the stuff you see on eBay claiming to be real props. Hey eBay! We could sell these on eBay. Where is my bucket?
We found a little fish and chip shop on the main drag just above the beach we were romping about. I wanted to try some real English Fish and Chips so this looked to be the place to do it. The signs said they had been serving fish from this location for more then 60 years so how could you go wrong. The place was run by some wonderfully pleasant Middle Eastern people that were still struggling with the English language so it was difficult to make the order. The food arrived promptly but I was disappointed to find that it didn't come rapped in newspaper, as I have always seen in the movies. I was informed that they don't do that anymore for some silly health reason. Samples were passed around the table for all to taste and the locals (the Trinity) declared it was good but not the best England had to offer. I must admit I have had better fish and chips in Perth Australia but did enjoy this meal and it sure hit the spot, fueling me up for the next adventure of the day. Bodiam Castle, Shooting location from "The Kings Demons."
After a bit of shopping in Brighton we reclaimed the Vectra at the Car Park (parking lot) and that was an adventure in its self. "Anyone have any coins?" The drive to the Bodiam Castle was uneventful but picturesque. Just driving along an unsuspecting road and "BAM!" a full size castle pops up. Moat and all! Coolest thing I have seen in a while. Bodiam was built in 1385, the exterior is virtually complete and the ramparts rise high above the moat. I've seen pictures of castles all my life but it is something different to see one in person. We found a parking spot next to the World War II Pillbox (another story) and piled out.
The weather had gotten noticeably warmer since we left Brighton, or was it I was just getting tired, either way the short walk up the hill to the edge of the moat seemed immense. I straggled behind the rest snapping photos but this was merely to conceal the fact I couldn't keep up. I was fine once I reached the level dirt pathway that encircles the castle at the waters edge where I resumed my tourist posture of pointing and gaping. There were great photos to be taken everywhere you looked. Every direction had something to see.
We strolled along the path to the far side where the museum and visitors entrance was. The collection of artifacts on display in the museum was not large but interesting. A small sampling of what life would have been like during the heyday of the castle. We walked to the bridge that spanned the moat providing access to the main doors of the castle. Simon became enamored with the carp living in the water. The fish were two to three feet long mostly colored gray with a few orange ones tossed about, they schooled at the surface looking for the odd bit of food from the tourists. Simon took picture after picture after picture of the fish until we had to shoe him along the wooden walkway toward the great wooden doors that led inside.
Pausing at the entrance to recreate the classic shots used in the Dr Who story we struggled to recapture the same angles for our photos used by the original cameramen. We called it a rap and headed for the interior through the mammoth wooden doors that led to a grassy central courtyard. The outside walls were still intact as well the towers but most of the interior structures were gone except for the partial walls of the great room. Matt, Simon and Sarah were up and down the ancient walls, climbing the worn stone stairs and exploring the interior rooms that remained. I didn't follow them to all the spots, picking and choosing where to expend my dwindling energy. "Who is up for going to the top of the tower?" Matt questioned. "Not me, but you go ahead" I replied. The three of them were in the access door and out of sight in a shot and I sat down on a cool stone in the shade of a grand arch. Ahhhhh… It wasn't long before the trio of medieval explores returned from their trek up the tower. They could have stretched it out a bit longer and I would have not been the least bit upset. My bottom hadn't quite extracted all the coldness from the slab of rock it was perched on and a few more minutes was all it needed to finish the task. Sarah pried me from my seat with a "Are you just going to sit there?" look and I was on my feet again listening to the stories of what was up the great tower.
Time to call this a completed location visit. We worked our way back to the car and over to the castle shop for a look around. I found a nice book for my wife Joyce and the cutest little soft toy dog for my daughter Ramana. In a cellophane bag with a big green label was my souvenir of Bodiam Castle. A bag of National Trust Jelly Babies. I didn't know that Jelly Babies were held in such high esteem. National Trust Jelly Babies. Geezz! That will go next to my Brighton Beach rock.
The Moor in Hawkhurst was just a few miles from Bodiam and we were there before I realized it. We parked if front of St Laurence Church, the location for numerous scenes from "The Curse of Fenric" story. We began hunting around the gravestone-lined paths that surround the church looking for the recognizable spots used on the show. We went inside and wandered about. We found the door that was used as the entrance to the crypt with the Celtic righting on the stones. Matt and Sarah restaged the scene where Reverend Wainwright and Ace are seated on the church pews as Simon looks for a piano.
I went to the front of the church to take a photo of the raised pulpit that Nicholas Parsons as Reverend Wainwright gave his impassioned monolog from. There was a group of people readying themselves for a concert rehearsal so I tried not to get in the way. I smiled at the obvious leader of the group as I passed and said "Good Afternoon". She smiled back and said, "You're not from around here are you?" "No, No I'm not" I quickly replied. She began to tell me about the church and we chit chatted for a bit. An elder of the Church who has been a member all her life she was slightly impressed that someone would come all the way from Washington DC to see her church. I politely asked if it would be all right it I climbed up into the pulpit. She looked around, back at me, smiled and said "All right then. I don't think anyone would get to upset". She gestured me around the back and up the stairs. There I was standing there overlooking my congregation of three Doctor Who fans and a group of giggling middle aged ladies. Matt took some photos for me before I climbed back down. One of the more memorable events of the trip for me.
I signed the guest book and made a small donation before we left the church to continue exploring the grounds. We went around back to the location Ace climbed down the church tower with a rope onto the roof, fighting the Heamovores. We wandered about reading the gravestones and talked about the story line that had been played out here. Satisfied we had absorbed all the ambience of this location we made our way back to the car and pointed it toward home base.
We filled the drive back to Dorking with logistical discussions about how and when we were going to return the beloved Vectra. It was due back at the rental firm the next day and we were planning on being in London then. It was decided best to return it this evening and not have to deal with it after or before the excursion into the city. Matt and Simon kindly handled the return of the car leaving Sarah and I to get a bit of rest on the back swing at Simons home. We splurged this evening and had a lavished dinner at the posh American poultry restaurant, KFC. A bit of home for the weary traveler.
Simon returned home after dinner but Matt, Sarah and I continued on to Matt's local pub, The King's Arms, to meet their friend Martin. We made it there just before last call and sat on the outside patio where it was a bit cooler. I had a great time chatting with Martin who is a very animated guy that roles his own cigarettes from a well-aged tin. I tasted the beer that Matt was drinking and decided to stick with the cola I had ordered. It seemed like no time at all before we were being persuaded, quite loudly, by the pub staff that it was time to go. Reluctantly we acquiesced and said our goodbyes to Martin.
Back at Matt and Sarah's we opened a few windows and checked the weather report. All predictions say hot! We were exhausted and wasted no time at all saying goodnight then slipping behind our respective bedroom doors. I had little trouble nodding off with thoughts of London and the plans for the next day in my head.
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|Photos from the days events
|The Moor Hawkhurst
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