We left London, and after a few well-spent hours watching the world go by we arrived in Dover, Kent. Our first night here would be at St Martins Guesthouse. This place had character, and the character’s name was John. There was nothing John didn’t know!
It was quite a walk from the train station to the guesthouse with the last 200 yards being up a very steep hill. But…we made it, dumped our cases, and went into town to explore.
Dover is a bit of a mixed bag. Being a port town it had an industrial feel about it in places but also some interesting old architecture too, with the imposing castle providing a magnificent backdrop. The city centre was undergoing a substantial makeover which I’m sure was both welcomed and not welcomed by the locals. Either way, the place felt like it needed to be spruced up a bit!
The next morning we were up early, packed and ready to be collected by our new hosts. We’d pet-sat for them before when they lived in Kensington, but they’d now relocated to the coast. We were eager to see our little friends Florence and Frieda again!
The house was gorgeous. Set high on the cliff top overlooking the sea with the coast of France visible from the front window. Access was down a very narrow, winding beach road which reminded me a lot of Cornwall.
The beach was a five-minute walk away. Well, getting down there took about five minutes but getting back up took quite a bit longer!
Florence and Frieda were becoming old ladies these days and apparently didn’t need so much walking, but they walked our socks off! We walked them at least 2 hours twice a day and at no point did they run out of energy, particularly if they smelled, saw, or even imagined a rabbit!
One evening we even walked along the cliff top all the way to the edge of Dover, overlooking the port, getting home just after dark.
During this walk, we passed the South Foreland Lighthouse, which is now managed by the National Trust, the remnants of the Fan Bay Sound Mirrors which were used to detect approaching enemy aircraft before the days of radar, and a small manmade cave cut into the cliff. The girls loved it!
Frieda also took herself off for a few impromptu independent walks too. Usually at night and coincidentally on the nights of the heaviest rainfall. I spent several soggy hours, walking many miles in the dark to find her. She did finally return home, managing to avoid some close calls on the road, so we were very grateful to be able to hand back two unscathed dogs at the end of our stay.
We cooked most of our meals, apart from the occasional meal out and way too many portions of fish and chips. With such a lovely garden and even more perfect weather, we ate outside a lot!
The walking, the views, and the abundant nature were stunning. It’s so important to leave these beautiful places as you find them, especially if you’re walking your dogs. Poo bags at the ready!!
For small dogs, they certainly produced a lot of sh…well, it’s probably best I don’t go into that you might be eating dinner or something.
The house was a little isolated so the use of our host’s hybrid electric car was a godsend. We were able to explore the local area.
We used the car a few times, mostly on short trips within the range of the electricity charge. We learned some lessons about the quirks of electric cars, one excursion finding ourselves with very little charge and even less gas!
We visited some charming places during our three weeks…
Deal – what a fabulous name!
As long as we got to Deal early the castle car park was super convenient and within walking distance of the beach and town.
We visited this place a few times and really enjoyed spending time around town which seemed to have two distinct areas. There was a high street with all the usual stores, but also an artsy district with cute restaurants, delis, galleries, and a traditional market. The narrow lanes of the residential area were also a pleasure to walk and we found ourselves daydreaming about which house we’d most like to buy.
Canterbury – a cathedral city and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We spent an afternoon in Canterbury. Parking anywhere in the UK can be tricky, and even more so along the coast in the summer. Luckily we managed to fathom the park-and-ride service which worked a treat!
Aside from the cathedral, which we didn’t want to pay the pricey admission fee to visit (and it was covered with scaffolding), we didn’t find much to see on foot. An afternoon was enough to take in all the little interesting corners.
Ramsgate – boasts one of the largest marinas on the English South coast
We visited Ramsgate on one of the more overcast days. Despite that the town was bustling, the beach was full, and the queue for fish and chips was loooonnnnggg!
Broadstairs – so-called from ancient steps once carved in the chalk cliff that led from the sands to a shrine above the cliffs. Apparently, the town was also Charles Dickens’ favourite holiday spot.
Another lovely place to visit. However, we did start to realise there are only so many times you can eat fish and chips in a week!
Walmer Castle and Gardens
The castle and grounds were definitely worth a visit and Tesco Clubcard kindly offered a good discount. The guides were enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and obviously very proud of their castle. The gardens too were a delight, with an impressive kitchen garden. I loved it so much I didn’t take any photos!!
We did visit one local place on foot, The Pines Garden. For me, this was a little piece of heaven nestled in a quiet corner, dedicated to nature conservation, between the house and the beach.
We spent a lot of time with the dogs and they liked to spend time with us, including following me around when I was keeping busy in the garden. They didn’t much like being left home alone!
I was the one who usually fed the dogs their meals so they knew who to hang around with in case of an occasional treat! I’d never heard of Kong dog feeders before this trip but the dogs went crazy for them!
During our time in Dover, we experienced our first pet sit cancellation. Our next sit was due to start shortly in Harlsedon, London. We had visited our host ahead of time whilst we were in Bermondsey and thought all would be well. At the last minute, the dates changed which meant an overlap with our last days in Dover. We couldn’t be in two different parts of the country at the same time, so our London invite was rescinded. We had an anxious day hunting for a new sit – pronto! Fortuitously we were thrown together with someone who’d also been let down at the last minute but by their sitters. It was meant to be and really had a sparkly silver lining! That’s going to be Part 3!
After three blissful weeks, we spent the day cleaning making sure to leave the house as we found it. We said our goodbyes to Florence and Freida, grabbed a taxi to the station and headed back to London.
Finchley here we come!