Day 01 28-04-2014 Mon Ashford

The flights were okay and the safety video was highly entertaining. Is it just me or have the seats gotten narrower and closer together. I was stiff and sore on arrival. The walk from the aircraft A340-600 to immigration and customs must have been over a kilometre.

We had booked ourselves for a fresh-up and four-hour bed rest in the in-airport Yotel. The room was hilarious: the bed is partway recessed into the wall to allow people movement within the room. The room was dark – so dark that we couldn’t see where the light switch was – we had to call reception to be advised that it is in the bed enclosure. With the bed extended, movement was indeed a little cramped. After ablution we crept into bed hoping for some well-earned sleep. That didn’t happen but we got quite a good rest.

After checkout at 11:30 we had a lunch of fish and chips with garden peas in the adjacent Wetherspoons (Andy’s recommendation). That was quite good, so thank you Andy.

The young lady at the car rental desk was friendly and helpful, falling for our Aussie charm and giving us the second driver for free (normally £10 per day!!). The car is a black(!!) Hyundair i30 with six-speed manual and only 2743 miles on the clock. Naturally we expended the first fifteen minutes in the car missing a turn and having to drive for eight miles back onto the A25 South. It’s a maze there at Heathrow.

It’s quite easy to drive and has no trouble maintaining freeway speeds. Not sure about hills – we haven’t had to go up any decent ones yet. Speaking of freeways, most of the M25 was advertised as having “variable speed limit”, but nowhere did it specify what that meant. We mostly did between 65 and 70 mph. The road is very good and quite scenic in the latter half, once in The Weald. The hedgerows are in bloom with May blossom {Hawthorn}, so that even the motorway was attractive to drive along.

We had decided beforehand that since our accommodation did not allow check-in before 4pm, we would visit Leeds Castle en route, just outside Maidstone. Once we got there the sun came out for us. It’s a very attractively landscaped site with a number of small and large ponds supporting a host of waterfowl, mostly various kinds of geese. Plus a few peacocks (no peahens in evidence). It was lovely to be walking in English woodland, complete with bluebells and a few remaining daffodils.

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The castle itself is from three different eras – from the 12th century to the 19/20th centuries. Mercifully for our level of fatigue it took only an hour to view the castle, but well worth it. We feel that the holiday is off to a good start.

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