Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Actual Trip: Day 12

Hello from Ramsgate! Well, that was an... interesting day. Lacking in scenery a bit, but it did mainly contain the Essex south and Kent north coasts, not well known for their fantastic views. Ramsgate is nice though, looks a bit like someone took Brighton, re-arranged it a bit and put it in Kent instead.

Colchester Castle
The day started by heading south from Great Yarmouth. First major place was Lowestoft where there was a long wait while the swing bridge on the A12 was in use. Seriously, the main road down the Norfolk/Suffolk east coast has a swing bridge on it; I do despair at the state of some of the parts of our road system. Anyway, the A12 improved as I got towards Ipswich which actually does have a bypass and a very good one at that. This involved the Orwell Bridge, which was very high but not actually possible to see much from.

It was then down to Colchester on what was a rare instance for today: a minor A-road. Went into Colchester to have a look around. Saw the castle, some nice gardens and lots of people. Eventually found my way out again and it was back onto the A12 charging towards Chelmsford, and then the A130 towards Southend, again both major trunk routes. Came off the A130 just north of Southend and it was about now that the worst rain I've experienced all week appeared and then followed me intermittently all the way into Kent. After what seemed like an eternity I made it through Southend and back onto the main A13 towards London.

Next up was a quick diversion through Grays and Purfleet, then back onto the A13 to get the the A282, or, as most people probably refer to it, the M25. Was very hungry by this point so stopped at the services at J31 for lunch. Ate my lunch, popped into the service station to use the loo, then went back to my car. A lady pulls up in a car next to mine, and is saying "excuse me" as to get my attention. So I wind down the window to see what she wants. She winds me a yarn (in an Irish accent) of how she's driven over from Reading to visit her very ill mother in hospital but left all her money and cards at home and needs some money for petrol to get home. Could I lend her some and she'll send it back to me? Now, while I believe I'm generally regarded as a nice kinda guy, I wasn't born yesterday. Also, while I wouldn't normally wish to make assumptions about people of certain ethnicities (in this case Irish) in particular counties (Essex), I had a bit of a feeling this lady wasn't of a particular honest nature. So I declined. She then drove off and headed the wrong way down the car park, rather than, say, to the exit, or, say, into the service station to contact a relative of someone who might be more help than a random stranger... I later recalled an incident back when I was at university when a similar lady (possibly the same one) stopped in the main street in Virginia Water (hardly a busy place) and made a similar request to me regards a mother in hospital in Dartford. Hmm.
Ramsgate Marina as viewed from
my Travelodge Room

Mildly entertained I headed across the QEII bridge, paid my final toll, and took the first exit to head towards Gravesend. Was very impressed with all the shiny road signs directing me, got to see lots of HS1 and Ebbsfleet International Station, which I believe is meant to be like a Park and Ride for Eurostar.  It was then on to Gillingham, which had an amazingly good road through it which even had a tunnel under the Medway for added fun. It was then on to the A2, which, while this bit of it only having been the A2 since roads were classified in 1922, was once the Roman road known as Watling Street. Quite impressive to think the road I was travelling on had existed in some form for at least 2000 years. At some point between then and now someone had put a gas main under it, specifically in Newington High Street. Guess what was therefore being dug up and where the road was closed for this to happen? So off I went following the diversion which included one of those "single track roads with passing places if you're really lucky" that I've mentioned before. I was following a tractor though, so was alright.

Having returned to the A2, it wasn't long before it was onto the A229, which some people appeared to have mistaken for a racetrack. I missed my turning for Whitstable so didn't do that bit of the route. It was only signed as the road I was looking for (the A2290) at the last moment at which point I was in the outside lane passing a van while a Jaguar was trying to climb in the boot, so braking suddenly didn't seem wise. Made it to the A28 in one piece and headed into Margate before working my way around to Ramsgate.

Last bit tomorrow. A259 here I come!

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