In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me an invincible love. In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile. In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me an invincible calm. I realised that through it all , that in the midst of winter, I found there was within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For its says that now matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back

Albert Camus

A bit of a Foreword….

This blogs not full of adrenaline sports this time because I can’t actually walk right now so if you aren’t interested in travel, ghosts and smugglers then you might want to read one of the other blogs! I’m out of action and this time this isn’t a sports injury. I was training for the Gower Peninsula ultramarathon that I was going to run in my other halves memory in aid of Macmillan Cancer nurses. Vix only passed away recently and I needed to do something positive after all the soul destroying stuff that’s happened over the last few months. To add to everything one of my closest friends Baz passed away barely weeks later which was another blow I just didn’t see coming. The loss of both of them must have lowered my immune system so far I managed to get severe food poisoning and two infections. This triggered a rare condition called ‘reactive arthritis’ and because of this I am on two crutches just to get about and in a hell of a lot of pain as my right foot, knee and calf don’t work and they’ve swelled up to three times the size they should be. I can’t lie, it hurts so much some morning’s I sit here in total agony for hours, so much I can’t even think but maybe that’s a blessing as when the physical pain stops I keep thinking how much I miss Vix and Baz. When I recover I’m still going to do a charity event to remember her, but right now it may be several weeks, even months before I can walk properly again. I climbed a Scottish mountain recently to remember her, before the food poisoning nearly finished me. That was to take her in picture form as close to the sky as I could. Not that I believe in heaven but if anyone was going to show her where she should go I felt it was me. But anyway this blog, is not about that, it’s about carrying on despite things falling apart just like she did and she and Baz would have wanted me to keep travelling, keep adventuring and keep writing because that’s what I do. Going away to a haunted old smugglers town is one of the weird quirky things Vix and I would have loved to do and would have done together. I can imagine if I close my eyes she’s somewhere close, and I guess if I had to choose anyone to be haunted by, it would be her. I will write something for her, but right now I don’t think I’ve got the strength to do it”

The Author

Off We Go To Sussex

This weekend me and Andy should be running the Gower ultramarathon but if you’ve read the foreword then you know I can’t do this now, in fact I couldn’t even make like a snail and crawl it. So I give Andy a call and make a suggestion, that we don’t waste the time we have booked off and we go and do something anyway. I can’t be here anymore it’s just reminding me of the past two years of lockdown, loss and I am NOT an indoor person. On the day of the trip I wake up from dreams that would outshine a David Lynch movie and Andy picks me up about 9am which is a surprise to us both as with the amount of pills the doctor has me on I didn’t know if I was going to wake up or not. I’m on so many drugs right now I’d worry Bez from the Happy Mondays and I’m amazed that when I have to hop onto my crutches that I don’t make a sound like a maraca. To make things more frustrating I have to get my Dad to help me put my shoe on because right now, my foot is a deformed mess. It looks like how a foot would look if it was created from balloons by a birthday party clown high on laughing gas. We head out to the car and with more than a little difficulty I manage to swing my almost useless lump of a body into it. I figure this is what it’s going to feel like one day, when and if I allow myself to get old if the mountains don’t finish me off. If this is how it’s going to be one day then I hope nature reclaims me before I start losing my mobility. Instead of heading off to Wales and the Gower we are heading in a totally different direction, namely the small town of Rye in East Sussex, which probably sounds like a totally random choice. There is reasoning behind this though as I’d heard about the place from a podcast called ‘lore’ which is you are into the supernatural and the macabre like me I’d highly recommend. As this blog title suggests Rye has a long and bloody history of smuggling and also vast amounts of tales of the supernatural, so considering I’m temporarily disabled it sounds like a fascinating choice. The drive from Birmingham is a bit longer than we expect at around three and a half hours but we eventually pass into Sussex and through the small village of Hawkhurst. This was the base of the feared smuggling outfit the not very imaginatively named ‘Hawkhurst Gang’ who I’ll talk about later. As we pass through Hawkhurst I put the Lore podcast on for Andy so we can both have a think about the places we want to visit in and around Rye. While this plays out we learn that the gang actually went full English and murdered a bunch of people over a shipment of tea. I cannot for the life of me think of a more English reason for murder. Unless of course you annoy one of us so much we get to the stage we ‘beg your pardon’.

Holiday Home

Somehow despite the fact that me and Andy have both taken courses in navigation in difficult mountain environments after getting out of the car we both manage to walk (hop in my case) past the place that I’ve booked not once but twice. How we haven’t died on the mountains yet I have no idea. The place really does look the part with white painted wooden panels, like someone just took the leftovers from building little rowing boats and decide to turn it in to a house instead, but of course in a good way. Inside there’s a definite sea theme, loads of lighthouse figurines, beach signs and little model boats. Maybe I’m getting old because I’m loving the decor in this place, but then again I’ve always wanted to live by the sea since I was small and I’ve always loved the coast. Unfortunately I was born and bred in Birmingham so instead of the wonderful smell of the sea and the sounds of the waves crashing in the closes I get is nearly getting shat on by aggressive seagulls that have moved inland as I make my way to work. The only kind of fishing you’ll do back home in Mordor is fishing bikes and deformed carp out of canals.

We decide to spend a bit of time at the house before heading out, as it’s been a long drive especially for Andy who so far is always driver, at least until I have my car at which point I’ll be turning up randomly at friends houses to take them out on adventures. By this stage I think I probably owe my friends and family a lifetime of lifts. Maybe getting a car makes me an official adult? Do I want to be a full adult though?….it seems like a trap to me! Anyway we have a chill for a bit then leave, and I hop back over to the car like a viking looking version of Zebedee from the magic roundabout (if you don’t know it it was character who had no legs but did have a spring up his ass which right now I think describes me pretty well.) So we head out into town for some supplies and to grab dinner in one of the interesting places from Rye history, in this case It’s going to be ‘The Old Bell Inn’. We park up in the train station with Andy walking and me hopping along on my crutches very slowly and notice an old man seems to be ranting at some teenagers hiding round the corner. They are smoking spliffs next to some fresh looking graffiti and we just assume the old dude is telling them to move on or blaming the graffiti on them. It’s hardly and unusual scene for the UK because we have loads of kids who hang around making an issue of themselves. We call them ‘Chavs’ and despite the sports wear you will rarely catch them running unless there’s blue lights flashing behind them. It’s pretty normal so we don’t think anything of the scene and head towards the shops.

The Local Weirdo Emerges

We head to the supermarket and get supplies for later, but I can’t carry the shopping bags in my state so Andy says he will take them back to the car which isn’t far while I wait for him to come back. No more than a minute later the old fella who was talking to the Chavs emerges from the evening shadows like he’s about to try and sell me some smuggled tea. He starts talking to me in what initially sounds like nonsense but with a Kent accent, which shouldn’t really strike me as unusual as for some reason I’m like some sort of walking magnet for weird people. I’m the kind of person who sit’s on his own purposely away from people on public transport and tries to keep himself to himself, with headphones in, not looking at people and somehow I’ll always get the person come and sit next to me who will probably be in the news the next week for wearing someone else’s skin. I just assume he’s babbling and complaining about the kids he was talking to earlier so I just nod along with whatever he’s saying, not really listening and in a drugged up haze from the co-codamal the docs got me on. Despite the fuzzy painkiller blanket my brain seems to be warmly wrapped in I’m still sharp enough to realise that he’s probably the local weirdo. As he babbles on my internal monolog is talking to me increasingly loudly ‘Is this guy venting his weirdness to you because you are on crutches and can’t make a a rapid escape like everyone else?’ it whispers in my brain for some reason in my voice . He momentarily becomes more coherent, or maybe I’ve decided to listen for a laugh, and then he comes out with the sentence ‘I’m not racist but’….oh great here we go, and unsurprisingly he starts being racist. I wish at this point I was more able bodied so I could tell him to jog on, as I would usually but I have no idea how unstable he is. Instead, here I am like some sort of imaginary friend for this strange old dude. Actually maybe I’m imagining this because it’s really weird…nope I’m not imagining it because it’s also super uncomfortable, so it’s definitely real. He makes some really weird point about World War Two that I’m barely listening to and starts to step slowly backwards as if he’s almost done. I breathe an internal sigh of relief…maybe he’s going to sod off now. Annnnnd nope he makes another point and steps forward again like he’s dancing along to a Hokey Cokey nobody else can hear. Eventually I’ve had enough and stop him with a ‘have a nice evening mate’ which he smiles at because he’s now realised I’m glad to be rid of him and after a few more garbled sentences he walks off. It is absolutely typical that this was going to happen when I was most fragile and I know the dude’s probably got issues but I’m not a therapist.

A Bit About Rye And Smugglers

Rye appears to be best known as you have already gathered by now as a hotbed of smuggling. Originally smugglers didn’t exist because before the customs system was brought in during the reign of Edward I trading was free of charge and in the Sussex area the place where the customs officials were based was in Chichester, and thats was where traders were meant to take their ships. To take the ships anywhere else to unload was illegal unless they were given permission to do otherwise, so it’s fairly easy to guess what began to happen. At this point there was nobody to prevent smuggling, only to take customs charges in the designated area and obviously people were going to find a way around this eventually. So the traders, now smugglers could sail their vessel to another port or harbour where there were no customs officials. However over time the customs services expanded and the risk of being caught therefore increased, however probably because customs staff were paid poorly this made them susceptible to bribery. As well as this smugglers were not unpopular with the community as the customs charges were widely thought to be unfair, and the community benefitted from the cheaper price of goods from smuggling. There’s a good reason why pirates and smugglers are looked upon in popular culture as hero’s and adventurers especially in the British culture as we’ve long been as seafaring nation, probably due to being stuck on our small islands. So for some time smugglers and pirates were seen almost as folk hero’s. As well as this they were very organised and widespread so when it came to trying smugglers for their crimes in court so many people were involved in the corruption that often entire juries would let them off the charges because even the jury were also smugglers or benefitted from smuggling. The only problem with this amount of total lawlessness is that eventually things start to get out of control, which is exactly what began to happen in Rye over time. Gangs like the Hawkhurst gang who I’ve already mentioned eventually became common in Rye and in a large area of the South Coast which made life if you were employed as a customs officer not such a great employment choice. You would have a very high chance of experiencing extreme violence and even death at the hands of smugglers, so not a wonderful career prospect. To make matters worse for you if you decided to become a customs officer, being as practically everyone sounds like they had a hand in the smuggling you probably weren’t going to be liked by many people. Regardless this was probably marginally less soul destroying than working in a modern fast food restaurant.

The Hawkhurst Gang

It’s almost impossible to talk about Rye and smuggling without explaining the Hawkhurst gang as they were probably the most infamous smuggling gang of the Kent and Sussex area, with their reach extending even as far as Dorset. They were a large gang covering a massive area who were more than happy to murder or torture anybody who got in the way of their illegal activities. As we’ve already said their name came from the town in which they originated and the gang itself was started with fourteen original members. Their eventual downfall began one night near Poole in Dorset as the gang laid in wait on the beach of Christchurch, with hundreds of horses for transport for illicit goods. They were waiting for the ship ‘The Three Brothers’ to arrive which was carrying cargo of Rum, Brandy, Coffee and Tea, all of which were value at the time especially the tea of which there was said to be almost two tonnes of (thats a lot of cuppas) however the boat never arrived on the beach. The ship had been seized by customs officers and all the smuggled goods had been confiscated and sent for storage at the customs house at Poole Harbour. One John Perrin had been on the ship as the customs officers seized the ship and managed to escape in a small row boat in the darkness to the gang and tell them of what had occurred. Because the smuggled goods were so valuable instead of walking away the gang decided to raid the customs house itself under the cover of darkness, the party said to be made of thirty gang members made their way there only to find that the Navy had stationed a ship in the harbour with it’s guns focussed on the customs house, as a deterrent to any would be threats. Bold as ever the gang waited until the tide went out and therefore lowered the ship in the water, knowing that this would make it impossible for it to fire upon the customs house. They raided the customs house, took all of the tea and escaped. Understandably being made to look like fools by the gang did not sit well with the customs officers who issued an offer of a large reward £500 pounds (which was a massive amount of money back then) to anyone who could find the gang. Unfortunately even this huge reward did nothing to help initially as many people respected the smugglers for providing cheap goods or were terrified of what would happen to them if they said anything. And they were right to be terrified as you’ll later find out. The customs officers had no information for months until a smuggler named John Diamond sold a shoemaker named Daniel Chater a smuggled bag of tea. It just so happened that Daniel was visited by a customs officer called William Galley, and I’m guessing Daniel didn’t earn much as a shoemaker because he just couldn’t refuse the massive reward that was being offered for information. So he became a witness for customs and was called to Chicester to testify against the smugglers. He would later come to regret this poor life choice, because as we have already heard, you really didn’t want to provide the authorities with any information on the gang. They heard that Daniel was about to give information on them and headed off to find him, and not for a pleasant chat. Chater and Galley hadn’t even reached Chichester yet and they had stopped at a pub called the White Hart in Rowlands Castle to get a drink and to ask for directions, and this of course was a mistake because the owner of this particular pub turned out to be mother of one of the gang members. This just shows how influential and powerful the smugglers had become! Before long she’d already sent word to the gang and got Chater and Galley drunk on beer which meant that they had to stay the night at the pub, the last place they needed to be. After the men feel asleep they were dragged from their beds by the gang and outside then attached to the gangs horses then whipped the men and then took them to a stable, where they cut off Chaters nose (probably as he was a snitch) and just for good measure threw him down a well, followed by lots of heavy rocks. The brutality hadn’t ended though, as they buried Galley ALIVE. Because of the brutality of these murders the public began to turn against the gang and more people finally began to come forward to give information on the gang to the customs office. This resulted in the capture and trail for murder of seven gang members and they were sentenced to death by hanging and placed in gibbets to rot and be eaten by birds for all to see. The bodies were displayed in their gibbets in various places as well as on Selsey beach. This was was one of the beaches that was used to smuggle by the gang and the gibbeted bodies were displayed as a grisly warning to others who would dare follow in their footsteps

There were of course other smuggling gangs such as ‘The Groombridge Gang’ for example who operated in the Romney Marsh area. They were caught in the act of moving smuggled tea from Romney Marsh and along the way they were challenged by a small group of military men. Unfortunately for these guys the smugglers numbered thirty and they were obviously no match for them. They were disarmed and marched at gunpoint by the gang to Groombridge then onto Lamberhurst over four hours and then let go as long as they agreed not to pursue the smugglers. It just shows how rife this illicit trading was, and how ill equipped the authorities often were to stop these armies of smugglers.

The Mermaid Inn And More Spirits Than Mixers

After my brief encounter with the magnetic racist Andy turns up after he’s gone and as we are really early we decide to walk on and have a look at the Mermaid Inn in the dark, which is very appropriate. This place has a sketchy and violent past so it’s hardly surprising that it’s meant to be haunted. It really does look the part out here in the moonlight and early winter darkness. The cellars of the place are dated from around 1156 and the building and to be rebuild in 1420 after the whole town of Rye and the Inn were burnt to the ground by a French raiding party. And that’s just the beginning. The Hawkshurst gang frequented this inn and were said to be so unafraid of customs officials or any other law approaching them that they sat smoking their pipes with their weapons placed upon the tables. As we stand outside taking pictures of the Inn as it looks very appropriately creepy in the early winter darkness, with the pale moon illuminating it a older couple come over to us for a chat. Everyone seems so friendly here, or maybe they are lots of places that aren’t Birmingham. Unsurprisingly to me at this point they ask me what has happened to my leg and I bite my tongue when considering if I should tell them it was a shark attack and see if they believe me. We chat about the Inn and they tell us they have stayed at the mermaid a number of times to ‘escape their daughter on their annual holiday together’. We talk about the hauntings and the wife tells us how she saw the spectre of an old lady hovering over her sleeping husband! We say our goodbyes and take a brief look around the cobbled street around the inn before realising that our dinner reservation at the Old Bell is not for quite a while and the Old Bell is only about a three minute walk, so we decide to go and check out the bar of the mermaid. People back in the mermaids time must have been pretty short as the front door is extremely low, somehow I manage to get through the heavy wooden door into the very cosy and busy bar area. It definately seems far more cosy than creepy with a log fire and the huge fireplace known as (the what?) we have a few half pints as I shouldn’t really drink, being up to the eyeballs in codeine and take in the atmosphere. It’s interesting to think that there’s a smugglers tunnel which connects this building and the pub we are about to head to afterwards,The Old Bell Inn. Rye is apparently full of these secret passages and tunnels that allowed the smugglers to easily move themselves and goods around, away from the prying eyes of the customs officials.

The ghostly tales of the Mermaid Inn are extensive and are hardly surprising considering the history of the building. There is meant to be a haunting first reported in the 1930’s of the Elizabethan chamber also known as room 16 where a lady (apparently a psychic) had requested to stay in the room with a friend. The ‘Psychic’ slept soundly however her friend did not. She awoke to seeing two figures duelling, but with no sound created by either, like a silent film. They were both armed with rapiers ( a rapier is a two edged sword, with a narrow blade, which was apparently popular around the 16th and 17th century) they were both well dressed in hose and doublets. Eventually one was dealt a fatal thrust and appeared to die, the winner of the duel she reports to have then taken a nervous glance around the room before dragging the body of his opponent to a nearby tarp door and disposing of it!

Another tale tells of the Hawkhurst room, namesake of the Hawkhurst gang we have previously mentioned where an American lady stayed in the single bed section of the room to experience a man dressed in old fashioned clothing sat on her bed in the middle of the night. She could not get him to go away so she moved into the double room adjoining to join her sons instead. Well you can’t really blame her can you?

The ‘Fleur De Lys’ room has had a report of a man and his wife experiencing a man walking straight through the bathroom wall to the centre of the room, which scared them so much they moved downstairs to the lounge for the remainder of the night. What’s more is the man was a bank manager so you’d expect him to be quite rational and level headed.

Where doesn’t have a white or grey lady story in it’s history? Well you won’t be disappointed to know the Mermaid has a few different shaded ladies in residence. A lady in white is said to haunt the inn (busy place) said to walk from the single room and across to the main room of the Nutcracker Suite then straight through the door while stopped for a moment at the foot of the bed. Imagine waking up to see that! This lady in white has been said to be the spirit of a girl who made the mistake of falling in love with one of the many smugglers of the area during the 1700’s. Apparently though she was very chatty which as we should know by now the smuggling gangs were not keen on, especially when the chat was about their business. Hardly surprising that they were said to have murdered her for talking too much. She’s said to still wander the rooms in death, forever searching for her lover. There’s also been many reports of a lady wearing white or maybe grey who is seen sitting by the fireplace in a chair in room 1 or ‘Cadmans’. Lots of guests apparently report getting wet clothes if they leave them on this chair overnight despite the lack of windows or even pipework near the chair. Maybe the ghost is just a really sweaty ghost?

One room in the Mermaid is said to have lots of reports, apparently all around Halloween many of a rocking chair which moves of it’s own accord as the temperature of the room plunges, in fact this has been said to be so unnerving that maids would only clean this room if with a colleague. One worker reported seeing the chair rocking quickly and seeing the cushion compress as if a live person was sat on it…but invisible. Some that have stayed in the room have reported hearing someone walking around the bed but there being nobody there upon inspection.

The Old Bell

We head over to the Bell with me trying not to catch my crutches on any of the cobbled streets and smash my teeth in. I think this place has enough ghosts without me adding a toothless one to the ranks. While we wait for our food It’s impossible not to notice that the people on the table next tour are talking a little loudly about drugs and their fondness for them, making me wonder if that’s the thing that’s replaced the illegal tea trade. In fact it probably has, if anything these days the sorts of things that come over the water are more likely to give you columbian flu than allow you to hold a tea party. It’s no refection on the pub itself obviously however it’s more than a little fitting that we are sitting in an old smugglers pub with people talking about shoving the sort of stuff up their noses that also requires some smuggling. In fact as I’ve already mentioned the infamous Hawkshurst gang moved smuggled goods from the Mermaid, down the secret tunnel to the Bell and exited through a revolving cupboard in the Bell. The pub is named after an event in 1377 where French raiders stole the bells from nearby St Marys church and started a fire. Setting fire to Rye seems to have been a favourite pastime of French visitors. The Bells and other looted items were later recovered by sailors from Rye and Winchelsea after a trip to France. The Old Bell has been around for a very long time, originally starting life as a hospice and hostel that was run by monks during the Norman conquest nearly 1000 years ago. There are reports of ghosts here too though I don’t personally encounter the ghost that apparently glides through the wall of the mens toilet, where there was meant to once be a door. Another ghost is meant to sit beside the fireplace in the dining area and be that of a middle age man. Beer barrels are said to be supernaturally re-arranged in the cellar of the Bell overnight when the pub is closed, and in the grounds of the pub the ghost of a civil war Royalist Cavalier and his horse has been reported. It’s hard to not miss the fact that in some cases the stories of ghosts were actually invented by smugglers themselves to keep people away from certain buildings, so maybe Rye having so many reported ghosts isn’t such a surprise. I guess there’s only one way to find out the truth though! One such smuggling host story involves Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex where a rumour was spread of a ghostly drummer who haunted the castle ramparts during the 18th and 19th century. Though it’s far more likely this was a place where smugglers could be storing illegal goods, and the ghost story was a way of keeping prying eyes away. After all people in the 18th and 19th century were religious and superstitious.

The Ypres Tower And The Gibbet Of John Breads

This is where a small exhibition of smugglers items and history is kept, along with some details of capital punishment. As described by the website “The Ypres Tower is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, It has uneven floors, low doorways, uneven steps and no lift” what a perfect place for someone who is temporarily disabled to hop around in. I always did like a challenge, but I still get a concerned look as I enter the tower from the guy on the desk who helpfully says ‘Before you pay, it might be wise if you go and take a look at the steps and see if you think you can handle them’ I take a look and I think I can. Before long I’m hopping up a medieval spiral staircase on two crutches which takes an immense amount of effort. I never did like going up these types of spiral staircases even as a kid from fear of falling but clearly all the mountaineering I do has desensitised me. Though a fall down these stone steps will probably extend my recovery time a little.

One of the most stand out bits of the exhibit is the mock up of John Breads Skeleton hanging in a Gibbet, which would make a very convincing halloween decoration. Though the real skull and Gibbet have been kept as a grisly souvenir in the attic of Rye town hall, and apparently you can go and visit it if you book an appointment. Maybe a bit of a weird day out even compared to this one I guess. If you are unfamiliar with the idea of the Gibbet, it’s a a Gallows that has a projected arm, with almost like a human bird cage at the end of it. After a criminal was executed they were often suspended in Gibbets and the bodies allowed to rot and be eaten by birds as a warning to others not to commit crimes. And despite this extremely grim punishment it still didn’t seem to help put many people off committing crimes in the Rye area, as demonstrated by John himself. I’m kinda gutted they don’t sell replicas I can hang on our front porch to put the trick or treaters off. So what did John do to get himself left in a Gibbet to rot? Well he planned to murder of the Mayor of Rye, James Lamb in 1743 which in itself was bad enough but unfortunately this is not how things panned out.

Breads was already known to be a violent person, though this is apparently not so surprising for the time. He was a butcher by trade and had previously been convicted by Breads of using false weights to sell his meat. Because of this Breads swore he would have his revenge on lamb, though he decided he would proclaim it in front of his drinking friends at the flushing Inn. And so it came to pass that one cold night on the 17th March 1743, John the mayors son was having a going away party on his ship which was berthed near Rye harbours fish market. He was soon to leave Rye on a voyage to France. The Major was due to attend the party also, however his former wifes brother Allen Grebell visited him and as the Major was feeling unwell he asked if Grebbel would mind attending the event instead of him. He agreed, yet It was a cold night so he lent Grebel his coat to keep him warm, which was nice of him but would soon become a backhanded favour. Grebell attended the party, not realising that Breads was observing him and had mistaken him for the Mayor. Upon leaving the ship around 2-3am he used a route through a local churchyard where he was attacked by John Breads who was waiting for him and armed with a knife, he was stabbed multiple times, two of which thrusts punctured his lungs. Breads must have been a bit thick as though he disposed of his murder weapon into nearby bushes, he had forgotten that the implement had his name carved into It’s handle. Unsurprisingly Breads was caught and actually tried and convicted by the Mayor James Lamb, the very man he had been intending to kill. To add insult to injury it’s said that the reason why there is now only a skull left is because local women took all of the other bones for use in their rheumatism potions. There’s something weirdly poetic about a butcher being divided up and consumed.

The Strange Desolote Beauty Of Dungeness

I’ve wanted to visit Dungeness for quite a while after seeing it on the TV program ‘Coast’ it is an immensely unusual place which people tend to either thing is desolate and ugly or strangely beautiful. Really being only able to get around on just a pair of crutches right now I’m not exactly equipped to take on the shingle which is difficult top walk on normally. Every move forward the crutches sink deep into the mainly flint shingle. These few months seem almost like they are defined by me just struggling so a bit more struggle probably won’t do me any harm, and really I’m so glad to be far away from the house, and memories of being locked down unable to see the person I most wanted to. This barren shingled wasteland almost reflects how I feel inside, vast desolate yet somehow things still manage to survive here. The area is a favourite of photographers who like me and Andy have come here to try and capture the essence of the place in a still frame. Dungeness is a cuspate foreland, a triangular extension of the foreland into the sea which is created by wave action and it has grown over time so much that the lighthouses upon it have needed to be rebuilt as the foreland extends. The first lighthouse was built in the 1615 and was followed by another four lighthouses over time.

Got Any Leeches For This?

One thing I’ll never forget about the area is that it is the habitat of leeches, yup the worm like swimming blood suckers so favoured by medieval medicine. And as a kid with a bit of a taste for the gross and unusual I found the idea fascinating. Around the 19th century as the leeches were used so often in medicine the population of the creatures started to decline. In fact at the time leeches were used in treating a huge range of illnesses, wether they were effective or not. If you were ill and you could afford it there was a good chance before long you would have a doctor cover you in leeches. Even in 1833 apparently France was importing 42 million of the thirsty wrigglers every year. They believed that treatment with leeches, which involved literally sitting there letting them drink your blood removed ‘bad blood’ from the system. Also as the European leech drank far more blood than the alternative American leech it was preferred, and demand hit the leech population. It was so over collected that it was declared extinct in Britain at the beginning of the 20th century however around about the 1970’s a dog went for a swim in a gravel pit in Dungeness and came out with a new friend, a European leech. Knowing this I’ve already made a mental note not to go swimming in any of the Dungeness gravel pits. However apparently this does not put off the ‘leech surveyors’ who stand in the waters of Romney marsh in their wellingtons, splashing about for 20 minutes to attract hungry leeches before netting them.