Monday, 10 May 2010
The little lanes of East Sussex, and there are many, afford the finest views and virtually the only remaining opportunity within the county to capture the essence of what motoring must have been like in the twenties and thirties of the last century. Our journey from New Anzac takes us to Burwash where Kipling made his home at the fabulous ironmaster's house of Bateman's and then eventually to far Dungeness. The day is far from clement and a bitter wind reddens our faces as we negotiate the twists and turns of the lanes 'Dumb Woman', 'Float' and 'Poppinghole'. Driving across the flatlands teeming with sheep and wildlife the roads brings us to ancient Winchelsea and our route leads through its ancient streets, emerging onto the Rye road. Skirting Rye, destined now forever to be an inland port, the tourists are already gathering and defiantly licking their ice creams, collars turned against the chill easterly. Towards the remote church of East Guldeford, we turn south for Camber and unlike most of the stony Sussex coast...sand! The holiday camp, so redolent of the 50's now sports a fine new overcoat but somehow you know that underneath it's still very much 'Hi-de-Hi' with red-nose comics telling questionable jokes and much boozy nocturnal activity between the 'huts'. Soon we are at our destination, although the nuclear power station curiously juxtaposed with a spanking new wind farm has been visible for quite some time. Past Derek Jarman's lonely hut with it's nature-defying garden and driftwood sculptures, we pull the Delage onto some shingle in front of The Britannia pub indulging in a pint of Shepherd Neame and a lunch of extremely good fish and chips. The unmistakable sound of an American steam whistle somewhat incongruously attached to a narrow gauge English 'Pacific' miniature locomotive draws us from the pub as one of The Romney Hythe and Dymchurch's finest drags in it's rake of carriages. We gaze at the lighthouses, and freeze quietly in the wind as the silent power station sends its charge down the arteries and veins of pylons spreading across the flatlands and beyond our view. We snap Jarman's hut as we leave this otherworldly part of Kent and and half expect to see his gaunt features framed by a hat and scarf appear in the doorway - we don't, but of course this unusual place is also one of ghosts.