Panther Enthusiasts Club UK
North Kent/East Sussex Drive to Pooh Country
Sunday June 28th 2009
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It was one of those days, not much seemed to go to plan, but in spite of that it turned out to be a delightful and enjoyable day. The one thing that we didn't have any control over was the weather and that turned out to be great. It started out a bit misty, but by the time we met at our rendezvous point it had cleared and the sun was well and truly out.
We met at a lay-by near Tandridge on the A25. This meeting point was chosen because it has toilet facilities, which I had purposely checked out to make sure they were open on Sundays. They were closed.
On the way there we came across long, very long queues of traffic going in the opposite direction at the lights at Oxted and Limpsfield, This was bad news as the start of our drive had to negotiate these lights. We needed a Plan "B".
Although we we nowhere near Biggin Hill, the problem was related to the Air Show that was on that Sunday. Obviously a very popular event!
However, before we decided on Plan "B", there were some "Hallos" and catching up with the news to be done over a cup of coffee and biscuits. There was also the problem of a loose door mirror on the Ferrari to be fixed. None of the Panthers fell apart!
The loos may not be open and the road surface in the lay-by could be better, much better, but look at the view you get of the North Kent countryside from it!
We welcomed Les and Pearl's son Colin to this his first outing with the club. Colin has recently bought a Mk1 Lima, upon which he has been lavishing TLC and it is virtually ready for its first MOT for many years. We look forward to seeing it Colin. Colin's debut was not the best of occasions as we lost him at a set of traffic lights and he was never seen again. Les and Pearl did catch up with him later at Penshurst, but such was the haphazard nature of the day, our planned trip to Penshurst in the afternoon never took place!
Visit the loos at the Garden Centre just before the A22 roundabout. Scrap the first part of the planned route to avoid the traffic problems on the A25 and make our way via another route to Crowhurst church to view the centuries old Yew tree. It is hollow so I hoped to get a photograph of most of the group standing within it.
All went well until we came to a "T" junction with no signpost. Sods law, I chose the wrong way. Soon after that I had to admit to being totally lost. We stopped in a pub car park and consulted the map. Whilst there the pub landlady invited us to attend her Classic Car event on the 12th July. Unfortunately, we will be at Barleylands and so can't oblige. The map showed us that we were not far from our original planned route, but we would have to retrace our steps to get back to Crowhurst, so we abandoned that part of the drive and motored on through the pretty East Sussex countryside to our lunch time stop at Hartfield, A.A. Milne, Ashdown Forest and Winnie the Pooh country.
It was planned that we would visit the Shop on Pooh Corner and believe it or not be silly b*#gers and play Pooh Sticks. However, the unplanned loo diversion and getting lost, meant we no longer had enough time for that before dinner and we forced ourselves to sit for an hour in the pub's garden with long cool drinks.
Peter Leigh and Jennifer find shelter from the by now very hot sun.
As do Alec, John, Pam Mary and Bernard
Yvonne and Pearl pose under the shade of a yew tree a few centuries younger than the one we should have seen earlier.
Les and Cliff make up the numbers, the only ones missing are Colin and me behind the camera.
A pleasant hour was spent this way until it was time to go in to dinner.
We were booked in for Sunday Dinner at The Hay Waggon in Hartfield. (Waggon is apparently the old spelling of the word). Based on our experience I would not hesitate to recommend this pub restaurant to anyone. It wasn't a set Sunday lunchtime menu, the choice was huge and in spite of the varying orders the meals all came out at the same time. They were also all very good. I do not however, recommend the soup, unless you are feeling exceptionally hungry. It was delicious, but the bowl was so big you could drown in it.
I knew I had a stupid expression on my face as soon as Cliff took the photo. Vanity almost made me leave this one out.
These 2 table photographs were taken by Cliff using Alec's monster camera, which has a flash strong enough to illuminate the end of the table.
Alec also contributed many of the photographs in this write up.
This photograph is included just to show that Cliff was allowed to eat with us.
Everyone is "desperate" to play Pooh Sticks, especially Alec who has kindly brought along a supply of ready cut Pooh Sticks for us all! So Plan "C" is walk up the Hartfield high street to The House At Pooh Corner, have a look around, perhaps buy a souvenir, then back to the cars and drive to the Pooh Bridge car park, then only if time allows go on to Penshurst Place. I think by this time most of us were thinking this last thing was not going to happen.
Me doing my courier bit explaining the "history" of the "Shop at Pooh Corner"
I may be mistaken, but it looks as though Cliff is asking if they take cheques. Meanwhile Yvonne is inside spending cash!
Mary take a good look at this photo and have words with Cliff next time you see him. He seems to be paying far too much attention to your bottom and that outstretched right hand looks dangerous.
On the way back to the cars some of the men tried to give away their better halves, but there were no takers!
And so it was back to the pub and the cars to make the short drive to Pooh Bridge
Off we go. Les and Pearl meanwhile have left in an effort to find their errant son, lost somewhere in East Sussex or it could be Kent.
And here are those sturdy enough to endure the steep walk down to the bridge from the car park. It is about a 12 min. walk down and a 15 min. walk back up.
Here we are Pooh Sticks held aloft, ready for battle.
At a count of 1,2,3 drop, the race begins. Pam seems to have become attached to her stick and is reluctant to let go. Other sticks are well on the way down
Then it's across to the other side to see who wins! From the look of things Yvonne's is still the other side of the bridge. Either that or she hasn't quite grasped how the game works!
And the arguments begin. It's Alec's fault those sticks should have been colour coded.
Oh well, that's enough excitement for one day. It is 4 o'clock and we've still to walk back up to the cars. There's no way we're going to get to Penshurst Place today.
We've all had a great time playing silly "B's", but it's time to go home. I tick another thing off the 50 things I must do before I die, we all say our goodbyes and go our separate ways.
As I said at the beginning the day did not go as planned, but it didn't matter. It was a relaxing fun day and perhaps if there is a lesson to be learnt about this type of outing it is, keep it flexible and don't worry if you don't achieve all you set out to do no one will mind.
And for those of you who really did regret missing the opportunity to clamber inside an old yew tree for a group photograph, here's a picture of what "yew" missed!
On the drive were: John & Pam Edwards, Peter and Leigh Heales, Les, Pearl and Colin Pratt, Alec and Mary Bradshaw, Bernard Lyster, Cliff & Yvonne Benton, Roy & Jennifer Biddle
Terry & Larraine Hockley-Moore were down to come, but unfortunately Terry hadn't recovered sufficiently from an operation to drive. We wish him a speedy recovery.
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