Change of plans today as we were unable to stay on in the apartment for an extra day as we had hoped. Brent set off early in search of a rental car. A very helpful man from Avis suggested we get one from London City Airport as unlike NZ there are no airport surcharges. On our way to the tube, luggage in tow we were approached by a man who offered to help us probably as we were again studying our map. He was the project manager for a large subway redevelopment at Cannon street. It was nearing completion after 4 years and had been held up along the way for 9 months when they found some Roman ruins. He advised us to get the overland train to the next station and then change for the overland train to the airport.
We have been using an Oyster Card here in London. They are best described as a pre-paid travel card which you can top up as you need to and gives you the cheapest rate. They are on loan from one of my work colleagues who told me the last person to use them was Dave Dobbyn. Must thank him next time I see him as there was 23 quid on one and 14 quid on the other....approx. $80 NZ.
We followed the directions we were given and as we stood on the platform at the change station Brent asked if we needed a ticket. I presumed we were still on the Oyster Card deal.....oops you know what’s coming next. When we got off at Gatwick (yes that's right Gatwick ...not London City Airport) we were greeted at the turnstile by the train inspectors (there were 4 of them) who were on the lookout for those without tickets, clearly not us...or so we thought. We got done like a dogs dinner ..."as ma'am you have gone past Croyden...you mustn't go past Croyden ...you can't go past Croydon on an Oyster Card and sir it's the same for you.....there is a 20 pound penalty fine each and I am going to have to fine you!"
After much indignation (we had spoken to a conductor and a platform staff member...and there were no signs anywhere...... and the 4 inspectors should have been at the starting end) he let us off with one penalty plus the correct fare. A total of 38 pound. Plus of course we have both been charged the 4.50 pound to Croydon (wherever that is). We can appeal the penalty ( must be in writing)and we can also get the 4.50 pound refunded on the Oyster Card. Brent will take them up on it and will do the letter writing. We are laughing about it now but at the time we felt like real crims and provided some entertainment for those that walked past us while it was all going on.
We arrived at Avis to be told our car we had reserved was at London City Airport and we were at Gatwick. Hmmmmm so far not the best start to the day...but our luck was in and we were able to secure a cute, sporty , black Peugeot 107 with a GPS for a pricey 14pound per day. They are a must otherwise life becomes one big discussion! In the end it was better to get the car from Gatwick than the other airport but it was a rather an expensive train ride.
We set off on our adventure (thankfully driving on the left side of the road again, where you instantly feel safer) heading off in a south direction. Brent wanted to return to a very small village called Lymington on the coast that he lasted visited in 1983. As it happened it hadn't changed much since then. At the time I suggested we go somewhere that he hadn't been to but he said he would like to go back. I was curious as to what was there but trusted that it was a quaint fishing village and must be lovely if he wanted to return.
We visited Brighton on the way, walking along the beachfront in the howling wind, looked at the rough sea pounding the stones instead of sand, sat in deckchairs, bought Brighton Rock....and had high tea on the Brighton pier. We decided to continue to Lymington where the reason for our visit became a little clearer. About 10 km from Lymington is a little village called Beaulieu. There the National Car Museum is located.......it now all fitted into place!
Lymington is a lovely little village with many historical buildings and best described as a small tourist and boating town supporting the Isle of Wight.
The marine shops had a huge range of quality gear and the clothing shops had high quality boatie clothing. I spied a nice necklace in one of the shop windows and decided to go back the next morning to buy it. In this little town I found the perfect T shirt for Brent but he doesn't wear them so gave it a miss however I could not resist the photo opportunity.
We had a meal in the local pub where I had some beautiful fish from the local waters. The pub and restaurant was full of very well to do people (boaties etc.) and we could identify quite a few tourists. Surprising for a Monday night. We wandered through the small cobbled streets and looked at the quaint houses in this little village, most well-kept and with several layers of paint. Some (quite a few) gave us a good giggle as for the last several hundred years they have settled on their foundations in slightly lopsided fashions. Our lodgings for the night were no exception!
We stayed above an old English pub that had only 8 rooms. We laughed as we lugged the suitcase (mine) up the narrow staircase and through a rabbit warren of corridors to reach our room. It was very comfortable though, but had uneven squeaky floors and a very small bathroom.
We left the next morning after a short walk into town where I bought my necklace and Brent bought a Cornish Pastie......not the traditional though. His was filled with Apple and Raspberry...yum.
Off to the car museum ...to be fair it is much more than a car museum but did have 250 motor vehicles reflecting the history of the motor car on the roads and circuits of Britain, It also has a section with a focus on James Bond and another one called the World of Top Gear.
|A happy man in his element !|
The interesting thing about this museum is that many of the cars are the actual vehicles that won the world’s biggest motor vehicle events and many others are original one owner low mileage vehicles. Some are the original vehicles used in movies, e.g. Harry Potters flying Anglia, Mr Beans Mini, James Bond vehicles, Top Gears stunt vehicles including the totally munted Hilux destroyed on their TV programme. It is in the enormous estate of Lord Montagu who maintains the Museum, Palace, and Beaulieu Abbey and Monastery. He and Lady Montagu still live in the Palace which has been the home of the Montagu family since 1538. You are allowed into the lower level of the Palace which I can only describe as amazing. While we were there we were lucky to be invited on a tour of the private areas of the Palace as the Lord was going out. So for the bargain price of one pound we were taken on an amazing journey into rooms that the family live in. Two things stood out...the piano which our guide said Sir Elton John and Michael Jackson had played on their visits and the guest bedroom with a four poster bed that every member of the Royal family have stayed including Princess Anne just 6 months ago. Actually I was more interested in the little room and the little bed that her bodyguard had to sleep in. It was a stunning place with some amazing furniture, art and history and it was lovely to have a glimpse of this.
Onwards through to the English Riviera- Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. Lovely at night with some lovely lighting along the Marine parade, however by day there are areas of tackiness. We declined the invitation to Bingo at 8pm. There are traffic signs that depict the older population of this resort town and it appears that busloads of them are bought in daily.It is an area that has so much accommodation mostly 2 star- 4 storey hotels and B &B's-attached dwellings and by the looks of the numbers that pour in here a car parking problem. We think there are as many car parking buildings as hotels etc.
It is hard to think that the place will be booked out entirely next weekend as its Bank Holiday weekend. There are pockets where the rich and famous live and their mansions are huge and palatial. We opted for a sea view bedroom but have compromised on the beds, we are going single twin tonight.
Off to Bath tomorrow!