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Sep 2019

Sandwich Coat of Arms

So, here's an original, new angle. Visit Sandwich to try and find the best, that's right, sandwich. The best deal, at least a pretty good one, accommodation-wise, has already been done in Deal and it's thought this one's got legs.

Only, thinking a little bit more about it, not that many places are nouns. Another one can't be thought of and it's pure coincidence these are less than five miles apart. Besides, this pair have friends in Cockermouth who are due a visit sometime soon.

With that pathetic plan already abandoned, a sandwich will be required as well as a head for heights and a double-check they're not remaking  Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.

There's parking behind the Elizabethan Guildhall and at over 400 years old and counting, this makes Sandwich more about the medieval[1] than the 'musements, which have been a feature of this coast-hugging trip so far.

Inside and alongside the local admin, there's a visitor centre and  museum with guided tours of the wood-panelled rooms now available for weddings and bar mitzvahs.

[1] Making this not quite old enough but more on that in a minute.

No sign of a sandwich in there, though, so it's off into town to hunt one down.

Despite the day-tripper trappings, Sandwich is deserted and there's nary a soul about with just a bored-looking barista in the Cattle Market's Costa™s.

Just the pair of streets, really, with both Market and King both doing a better job of being one than High Street, not shown.

It's still not known where everybody is, though, perhaps they're in the  Cinema?

It's not known, neither, what's showing in there but there's an accurate re-enactment of something else in celluloid outside. Out here, the vacated pavements are like the end of the  Wicker Man, man!

"No sir, it does NOT refresh me!" ©  Eh-Wah Woo-Wah.

The relative narrowness of the streets and lanes is a clue to Sandwich's age, perhaps, and the one-and-only chap snapped so far, on Market Street, could be, say, late-fifties?

That's about the same age as John Montagu would have been, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, when he famously requested a slab of cold meat betwixt a pair of door stoppers.

This to prevent any interruptions to his inveterate gambling and with a 'I'll have what Sandwich is having, ta.' the BLT was born, they reckon.

Had he been around today, he'd be up all night but not necessarily gambling. More likely indigestion, kebab and pizza in a sandwich? That's a step too far even for this one's admittedly low dietary standards.

Accidentally stumbling upon the similarly narrow and abandoned Strand Street, it leads down to something, at last, of some interest, sort of. There are no tolls, these days, and the answer to the question 'For whom does the Bell (Hotel) toll?' is still very much nobody, today.

The toll was for the bridge over the river, the River Stour, naturally, and while it's just an annoying traffic light, these days, there's evidence of some nautical activity that looks to be largely leisurely.

  Sandwich Bay Estate

The now toll-free road over the bridge heads north but there is a toll heading east along Sandown Road. £7 a day for access to a private estate and a shingle beach that's rightfully yours anyway, right kids? There's another road up from Deal where skinflints can supposedly snuck in for free[1], just saying like.

That fee should be enough to keep the riff-raff out and the golfers in although some nuddyism north of the beach has been reported. Hole in one? Let's just leave that one there, shall we?

[1] Some fashionable fact-checking has just been employed and, well, no you can't.

It wasn't always all recreational cruising when the sea wasn't two miles away and Sandwich was a significant port. Significant enough to be awarded  Cinque status, no less, but when the  Wantsum Channel went and dried up, so did the cargo and with it the chance of somewhere to grab a sandwich.

Not quite done with the river, this floating piece of recent history appeared in Dunkirk, it says here.

But, but, but that looks like an early '50s U.S. Navy gunboat used for post-war patrols on the Rhine? Dunkirk? You don't half spout some nonsense!

It featured in the  film Dunkirk, you see, although plans to expand Sandwich Quay as an 'international yacht harbour' may see USN P-22 relocated somewhere closer to the Rhineland, possibly.

Those medieval mutterings earlier weren't misplaced and the bottom bits of the Fisher Gate date from 1384 meaning, unlike the Guildhall, this one definitely qualifies, middle-ages-wise.

Just behind and by the river, Sandwich's  Medieval Centre is aptly unmanned with just as much chance of seeing Richard II down here today, never mind a volunteer. That might explain what feels like an evacuation, perhaps the peasants are all out revolting elsewhere?

  Salutation Hotel (Knightrider Street)

There's a café being advertised in the courtyard of the hotel with plenty of scones and knick-knacks but, get this, no sandwiches! There is, however, paid access to one of the Garden of England's best English Gardens, they say, and it's where posh ex-  Gogglebox™ers Steph and Dom call home.

You access it via the marvellously named Knightrider Street and, well, that Dom does have a hint of the  Hoff about him, eh?

Meanwhile, back up in the centre,  St Peter's Church is advertising  Sandwich Arts Week so this is where everyone else is, then?

As well as a week of events in and around town, this houses the main exhibition and a relative horde of admirers of the largely local handiworks and crafts. Best of all, though, they'll let you up the tower for £3.50!

Claustrophobia isn't this pair's particular problem, it's the wobblies once you're up there and yes, that'll be the old vertigo.

This one's just about borderline but, not unsurprisingly, pleasant views from up here and on a clear day, they say, you can see all the way to France, just not in this direction.

Despite this not being a church no more they still ring the bells, rather a curfew bell, each evening at 8 PM.

Hang on! That's it! That's it! 8 PM, that's PM! The tradition looks to have been lost in translation since the middle ages and the good folk of Sandwich clearly think the curfew kicks in at 8 AM, in the morning, possibly?

A parting snoop around New Street and there's still a sense of being at a seance... is anybody there?

There is, however, a proper, old-skool  hardware store and I could spent hours in these places. It's thought to be the smell, which is that of grandad's shed, although there's often an obligation to buy a small bag of screws or some shoelaces.

Today, it was some of those tiny screws to fix a pair of reading glasses that you can't seem to get anywhere and no, you can't get them in Sandwich, neither.

Some advice on the sandwich front, though, from the man inside... Head south on minor roads for about three miles and there you can get one, definitely!