The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
A Palace fit for CYHA
Has anyone noticed that itís been a bit wet lately? It seems to have rained every day since Christmas, and if you think itís been bad here, be thankful you donít live further west. Obviously we didnít know any of this when we booked our trip to Kent, so it was with some trepidation that we packed for our February trip to Palace Farm.
The hostel is part of an old farm in Doddington, north Kent, and the rooms are located around a courtyard with a cosy kitchen and common room in one corner. When we arrived on Friday night John & Judi were already settled in for the evening, but Dave and I hadnít eaten yet Ė so after a quick cup of tea we relocated to the pub for pie and a pint. The 10 minute walk down to The Chequers was enough to feel the chill, but the fire was roaring and the beer was welcoming. Apparently it was Grahamís and The Fabulous Grandads had been hired to provide musical entertainment. At first we thought this might be some dodgy folk band, but as they warmed up it became obvious that they specialised in the Classic Rock of the 60s, 70s and 80s. With this accompaniment the beers slipped down very easily as more and more of our friends joined us.
Saturday morning didnít look too promising as we emerged from our rooms for breakfast. A steady drizzle had set in overnight and the prospects didnít look too good for a dayís walking. After pouring over the weather forecast and the maps, we finally decided to head for Faversham. We were last here 3 years ago and remembered it having a good tea room and plenty of pubs Ė just in case the rain didnít clear.
As it turned out by the time weíd parked the drizzle had cleared and there were even some blue skies, however it was very slimy underfoot. In strongish winds we slithered about on the sea wall taking in the views (rather reminiscent of the Essex marshes) as the skies gradually darkened. It seemed to be incredibly unlikely, but just as we were the furthest from Faversham and the clouds were at there blackest, there was a small weather-boarded pub serving a range of real ales and ciders. Surely proof that there is a god!
The Shipwrights Arms was tucked away behind the sea wall, just a stoneís throw from the marina. They had only just re-opened having been flooded just before Christmas, so the landlord handed us bags for our boots to protect his new carpets.
It rained heavily for the half hour or so it took us to finish our drinks, but by the time we set to leave the sun was out again. It was only a short walk back into Faversham and there was time enough to see the sights (in our case the Fleur De Lys museum of local history) and get a nice cup of tea.
Our Saturday night meal was courtesy of Andrew & Carol: a spicy jambalaya to chase away the winter chills. John F brought beer to share, so we could all celebrate his forthcoming (significant) birthday. And there was birthday cake.
Sundayís weather didnít look too bad either, but we were a bit fed up with the mud from Saturday so we decided to go for a promenade walk from Whitstable to Herne Bay. The weather was a bit bracing, but the skies stayed clear and we had super views of the coast, particularly as the sun came down. It was a beautiful end to the weekend.
Epping Ongar Talk
There were four of us in the end, but the rest of you missed a really good talk on the Epping-Ongar railway. The presentation was given by the former manager and told the history from construction to closure and through into preservation. Those of you who were with us when the group first visited the railway back in 2003 will remember it being rather run-down and sad, but if youíve been there recently you couldnít fail to notice the dramatic turnaround. 2013 was a bumper year when they won virtually every award for a heritage railway. Weíve marked their summer beer festival in the diary. I wonder whoíll be drivingÖ.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
Thank you Cress for leading a great walk round the rather soggy fields of Writtle. It was lucky we did this in January, as by February much of the route by the Wid was in the Wid! As it turned out we had great weather and a really nice lunch at the Horse and Groom. The perfect start to the year - a rigorous regime of eating. I mean walking.
Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer