family reunion

My dear da and ma, as they’d’ve said here in ages past, took it upon themselves to organise an extended trip to the UK and Europe in 2 weeks. Who says you need to make plans in life? Just pack and go! (I know I did… 😎 ) This brought about a momentous event in our family – all four of us went on holiday together. I’m pretty sure it’s been 10 years or more since that last happened. I’m happy to report we survived it well – aside from dad deciding that theatre is pronounced thee-et-er with the stress on the et (and saying it all weekend) and slowing to a near stop on roundabouts when he wasn’t sure of the exit, plus mum relinquishing navigation duties to my brother then proceeding to do it anyway from the backseat. Sorry folks, now the world knows! Gotta luv em! I’m sure I have my moments too….!

Anyway weekend 1 was London sights, weekend 2 a driving trip to the ancestral home in Ripe and the south coast – Birley Gap, Eastbourne, Hastings and Rye Harbour. Absolutely magical to be in the country and by the sea. Lots of sea fog rolled in so the coast was very evocative (smugglers out there I’m sure).

The London Eye from belowThe London Eye from withinDing dong ding dong ding dong ding dongThe best part of London Bridge is its undercarriageLondon's 'skyline' from Hampstead HeathCanary Wharf area and the Millenium DomeIndustrial area along the ThamesMore industry, lots of barges on the ThamesMillenium Dome's spires make a nice photo don't they?Millenium Bridge with St Paul's dome in the backgroundSt Paul's dome perfectionTower BridgeBricked in Traitor's Gate leading to Tower of London - no one ever came out again...Sunset on the Thames from Millenium Bridge

Ripe is where my grandparents met. A tiny village in the country. He worked on the big farm and grew up in a house next to Hack Lane, both across from Ripe Church (St John the Baptist). She worked in the big house, Eckington Manor, across from Ripe Church. The church is 1,000 years old. The village has barely changed in 80 years. We ate blackberries in Hack Lane, had a hearty lunch in the Ripe pub, visited the son of my grandfather’s best friend.

The start of Hack LaneSid Hack walking in Hack LaneRipe ChurchBeautiful sculpted hedge near the churchThe farm where my grandfather workedThe house where my grandmother workedQuaint old sign at Ripe pubWhy name the roads when there's only one...Sign at the farm - perhaps not best to settle too long in Ripe!

The south coast is characterised by it’s massive white cliffs and massive tourist holiday towns. Eastbourne is like Brighton but a bit smaller and more geriatric tourists. Hastings is also large but more interesting, with an intact historical centre below the ruins of William the Conqueror’s first castle. Rye Harbour was notable for being not particularly close the the sea and having hardly any water. Thus very educational in terms of boat design!

Birley Gap cliffs fading into the sea fogChalk cliffs at Birley GapBrendan on the pebble beach at Birley GapQuiet Cliff's End, where the cliffs endWilliam the Conqueror's castle at HastingsCliff's EndWhen mooring becomes art - Rye HarbourRye Harbour - the boat *is* leaning on the jetty!

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