Monday 3 July 2017

Chatham and Calais

We had booked to fly to Spain to spend a few days with ours friends at their Spanish home but due to my fall our plans had to be changed so we decided to visit Kent and France.

We've been to Chatham before, taking the children to the Historic Dockyard many years ago but looking at accessible hotel rooms and accessible bars and restaurants we decided it looked suitable for a short stay.

Chatham Maritime Travelodge was perfect, great location, very friendly helpful staff, easy access for my wheelchair all around the hotel and in our room. It was just a short 'push' to Dockside, an outlet centre with shops and bars - diner our first night was at Nandos where again everyone was so helpful.

Before diner we visited Ship and Trades pub for a pre-diner drink, a beautiful location on the old dock which is now a marina. Nick had a pint of  Shepherd Neame ale and I a glass of sauvignon blanc, it was so lovely to sit outside enjoying the view - a big change from being at home the last 11 weeks.
Our pre-diner drinks 

Old boats in the marina
Yachts in the marina 
Sunday we travelled under the Medway river to Upnor to visit the castle. It's a very old village on the river side, the castle dates back to the 16th Century and was a fort to protect the boats in the dockyards. It's had a very varied history and is now owned by English Heritage.

It's been a blessing to now have a Blue Badge for parking and having found the village car park we parked up in the disabled place making it easier to get the wheelchair out. The path to the main road was not so easy, definitely an old place and finding High Street we realised I would not be visiting the castle. Nick however did whilst I stayed at the car studying the map for our route to the Isle of Grain which is where the Medway meets the Thames.

Upnor High Street going down to the castle
Upnor Castle from across the Medway 

Grain Church
Our location 
There are many historic buildings around the dock area giving a hint of their previous use. One such is Pump House No.5 which one housed a huge piece of engineering that could drain a dock in just 4 hours. The building is beautiful, the Victorians must have treasured the pump to build such a building to keep in in. Machinery long gone Pump House No. 5 now houses a different style of equipment - distilleries, three in fact.

Copper Rivet Distillery opened in October 2016 and distills gin, vodka and whisky. Their website shows the history of the building and how they distillery started. As well as having a small bar Copper Rivet also do tours, something Hubby and I really enjoy doing. So 2.30pm found us entering the historic building and gazing in appreciation of the stainless steel vats and copper stills - three stills side by side - a very impressive sight.

After the tour we enjoyed a lovely gin and tonic in the bar chatting some more about the stills. Their gin has just 9 ingredients and the gin still is a patent design as it forms two processes in one. Although they make whisky it is not yet available to by as it must, by law, be stored in wooden barrels for three years. Copper Rivet buy their barrels from Jim Bean (they use new barrels every time so have plenty to sell on) so the whisky will have not only the oak but a hint of bourbon too.

Pump House No 5 - Copper Rivet Distillery
Gin and Tonic at the bar 
Monday was our trip to the seaside - Herne Bay is not actually on the sea but the Thames Estuary. It was lovely to go along the sea front which had an impressive statue of Amy Johnson, have a few goes in the penny arcade and most importantly enjoy fish and chips out of the paper !!

At the end of the Pier
Statue of Amy Johnson
Fish and Chips on the sea front 
We went right to the end of the Pier, as it was out of season and not the weekend the businesses in the small huts were all closed but there was an interesting display of knitted dolls along the Pier railings.

Herne Bay Pier

Knitted railings 
Knitted peacock
After enjoying three lovely days in Kent, all successful in my wheelchair in and out of shops, bars and restaurants, we journeyed on to Folkestone to take Le Shuttle to France. It was the easiest choice as getting out the car on a ferry and up and down floors for just a short crossing seemed too much fuss.

My Blue Badge can be used abroad (maybe this will change after Brexit) which made it easier to park at Auchan. It was great wheeling myself along the isles buying my favourite french goodies: hand wash, olives, vanilla sugar, coffee .... and a few bottles of wine.

We always stay at Ibis Calais Tunnel Sous la Manche as it's a perfect location for Cite de Europe and it's bars and restaurants. As we'd booked an accessible room we were on the ground floor this time, lovely room with plenty of space.

After a long day travelling and shopping it was nice not to have to go far for dinner, there are so many restaurants but as I wanted mussels we went to The Black Bull Pub - very English in style which is not my usual choice of decor in France however their mussels in rocquefort sauce are amazing.

My favourite mussels
Kwak - great glass 
Wednesday was wine shopping day with a trip to Pidou, Calais Wine and Majestic Wine Calais. We have favourites we buy from each but had a extra bonus this trip as Hubby had won a case of Stormhoek 'The Fruit Bomb' Moscato from Calais Wine.

We bought some great wine home - I'll be blogging about them over the next few months as we open and enjoy our purchases. We've already enjoyed a bottle of Hubby's win, it was perfect sitting in the garden yesterday in the sun. A light glass of bubbly full of fruitiness, light in body but with a good depth of flavour, perfect summer fizz.

A selection of our purchases

Nick enjoying his summer fizz 
A huge thank you to my Hubby, without him this mini holiday would not have been possible. I'm so grateful for all the wheelchair lifting in and out the car, the wheelchair pushing, the bag carrying, the patience when I'm so slow on my crutches and all the care and understanding - Nick you are amazing x x


Mary - Lecoeurceltique said...

Good to read that there were enough accessible places for you and Nick to visit to enjoy your short holiday.

Julie said...

I'm so pleased you were able to enjoy a few days away and so sorry I have been such a bad friend and not visited you xx