After a trip down memory lane in the
delightful town of Wareham we paid a visit to our good friends Mike and Sheila in Bournemouth, Dorset before heading to the West Sussex town of Arundel where we had a very brief visit earlier in the year and vowed to return to take a closer look.
Arundel is a well preserved market town tucked in a steep vale in England’s beautiful South Downs. We can testify to the fact that the town is set on a steep hill having slogged up to the top of the town, past the top gate of the medieval castle and on to the vast Roman Catholic Cathedral.
But first we headed for the fascinating Arundel museum which was founded by local people in 1963 to conserve as much as possible of Arundel’s past.
There was a lot of interesting information about the town’s history from the first pre-Roman settlements to the present day. There were also exhibits describing life there when it was a thriving port, a large model of the castle (origins in the 11th Century but extensively rebuilt between 1870 and 1890) with lots of background history and much else besides.
After the steep ascent to the top of the town, we strolled down the hill to the River Arun which was so full that at places it was beginning to breach its banks. There had been a lot of rain during the previous week and the torrents of water had swollen the river to breaking point. No river traffic could have passed under the bridges and one terraced cafe on the river was ankle deep in water!
We drove on to Hayling Island in Hampshire (connected to the mainland via a road bridge) where we had found a lovely campsite right on the water. We went for a beautiful walk in the salty air as the sun set, enjoying the call of sea birds and the peaceful autumn evening.
A short drive the next day took us back into West Sussex and on to the home of our friends Sally and George who live near Chichester in what were once two run down farm cottages which they renovated many years ago to make one beautiful house.
Also under their stewardship is a stunning 1950’s Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire (one of around only 400 of this model were made) which George has lovingly nurtured for the past 30 years.
We felt very honoured to be taken out in this very classy vehicle and felt like a Lord and Lady for the day being chauffeured around the Sussex countryside.
As members of Goodwood (a 12,000 acre estate near to their house which has an aerodrome, a motor racing circuit, two golf courses, a horse race course, plus, plus, plus) Sally and George were able to take us in as guests.
We had a lovely lunch overlooking the aerodrome watching people having their flying lessons while in the distance we could see vintage cars whizzing their way around the Goodwood racing circuit.
Later we walked on to a viewing platform trackside to see some fine specimens familiar from our childhood as they drove onto the track from the pits. We even watched as the magnificent vintage Rolls Royce shooting brake that belongs to the owner of the Goodwood Estate, the 11th Duke of Richmond, take a sedate turn around the circuit.
Our introduction to Goodwood ended with a very pleasant drink at the golf course clubhouse which at one time housed the hunting dog kennels and still displays the dog bowls, each inscribed with the name of the dog it belonged to, in the lobby.
From West Sussex we drove to the port of Dover in Kent where we spent the night Right by the sea before boarding the ferry to Calais. From there we drove on to the Delft suburb of Pijnacker in the Netherlands where our daughter and her partner live.
We had a lovely long weekend together, enjoying the crisp autumn evenings with a fire in the backyard and enjoying the delicious corn on the cob we were given by Sally and George.
All too soon it was time to leave to take the long trek to Athens where we were going to finalise the purchase of our new boat. The weather was fine (if a little drizzly) as we left but we hadn’t gone too far before it turned really unpleasant.
We travelled in the driving rain through the Netherlands and into Germany. Despite the weather the roads were amazing, the drivers very skilled and there were no tolls.
After a good night in a parking spot off the highway we continued to Switzerland. At the border there was a bottleneck as all the trucks crossing into Switzerland had to be stopped, their papers checked and randomly checked. The queue of trucks went for mile after mile. Such a frustrating wait for those poor truckies!
What a waste of man hours created by the need to cross from an EU country to a non EU country. Is this what the truckies entering the UK have to look forward to after Brexit?
We continued on through the rain and low cloud and were disappointed to miss the gorgeous mountain views that we had enjoyed on previous trips through Switzerland.
On a whim, we decided to stop at the Republic of San Marino – the world’s fifth smallest country. Perched on a hilltop, the country measures just over 61 square km (24 square miles) and has a population of 33,562 and is completely surrounded by Italy on all sides.
San Marino is also officially the world’s oldest country having been founded on September 3 in the year 301 BCE.
We wondered how this little country had survived. It turns out that in the 1800s, the country took in many people who were persecuted for supporting the unification of Italy, as a result, a friendship treaty was established in 1862 which guaranteed its continuing independence from the Italian state.
Unfortunately the wonderful views that San Marino is famous for were completely shrouded in mist but we did enjoy wandering around the quaint streets and alleyways of its capital, also named San Marino.