Day 8 - From Brighton to Arundel - Day's cycling total - 23 miles
We had another full English breakfast. At this pace, any plans I had for loosing weight were not being catered to. We asked the hotel to hold our bags for a few hours so we could ride to the Royal Pavilion and leave the bikes without all the panniers on them. The clerk showed us a spot near the desk for us to stash our stuff and we were off in the fresh morning air. The sky was overcast but did not appear threatening as we rode back along the promenade an then downtown to the Royal Pavilion.
We were waiting when it opened. Because we were some of the first persons in and things were slow, we were soon adopted by one of the museum guides who gave us a personal tour, picked up priceless treasures and handed them to us to look at and told us some of the history of the palace. We handled the items VERY carefully and returned them using TWO hands. All we can say is that King George IV was definitely a party animal and knew how to spend money. He was the leader of a band of, "good ol' boys, was supposedly a terrible poker player who lost fortunes and had a lot of back slappers and ladies who had no plans to wait at all hanging around him. He spent vast sums of money on the palace and had much of it done in oriental theme and furnished with now priceless pieces of furniture and art.
Queen Victoria was so disgusted with the decadence of the place that she stripped it and sold it to the city of Brighton soon after her coronation. Although the city was almost totally destroyed in the Battle of Britain, the Pavilion was not bombed. Hitler wanted to make it his base of operations after conquering England.
The tour took us a little over two hours. We rode back to the hotel and picked up our panniers and discussed our options. We could ride to Arundel. That would require us to ride along the waterfront for about 18 miles in urban conditions with a lot of starts and stops before turning north and riding the last few miles or we could take the train part way. We wanted to fit a tour of Arundel castle and Arundel cathedral into the day's schedule and just couldn't see how we could do the whole trip by bike and still fit in the touring.
We opted to take the train from Hove, just west of Brighton, to Ford, a few miles south of Arundel. We rode to the train station, bought two tickets for six pounds forty each and got on the waiting train. Half an hour later, we were in Ford. We exited the station and looked towards the north and could see Arundel in the distance, the castle and cathedral dominating the town's skyline.
The ride to Arundel was only about four miles and on almost deserted roads. We were booked into the YHA hostel which we had directions to but couldn't find. We finally rode into town and were given very specific directions that led us back the way we had ridden from. The hostel is located in a rural setting with farms around it and was a very well kept looking building with a few camping tents on the front lawn. Registration was closed. We had wanted to dump our gear and finally opted to just pile it all on a picnic table on the patio with a piece of paper with our names on it.
We rode back into town and toured Arundel Castle, the Duke of Norfolk's home. The castle has been in the family for over 500 years. The current duke and his father previously, fully restored the castle and now offer tours. The duke, his wife and five kids, live in a separate wing. One of the docents told us that the duke sometimes wanders among the tourists, listening to their comments and asks their opinions, all while not identifying himself. They say he's a very nice man. He's also a very rich man and his ancestors were great art collectors. The wealth displayed in art and fixtures is rare, exquisite and generations deep.
We opted for an early dinner. We asked one of the men working the admission booth if he had any recommendations. He suggested the Tudor Rose on High Street. We took his suggestion and were not disappointed. We both chose the lamb special and although I don't usually eat lamb, the food was great, again, what's all this about English food being blah?
After dinner we rode up to the cathedral and went in. Again, we found the inside of the cathedral lined with numerous plaques to citizens and soldiers who did their best for king and country. When we looked around we found a plaque thanking the Duke of Norfolk for his generous donation of building the cathedral for the town. Like I said, the Duke is a very wealthy man.
We rode back through town and out into the countryside to the hostel. When we got there we found about 30 young girls, 15 to 17, all setting up camps on the lawn. We saw some people that looked like teachers and asked what was going on. They told us the girls were qualifying for the Duke of Edinborough Challange. They were to prove that they were able to live on their own for 3 1/2 days to win the gold award. If they were successful, they would receive citations from the Duke of Edinborough who is Prince Charles. It's considered an honor and many teens try for it during the summer.
Our gear was where we left it and we checked in and hauled it to our room. We would be staying in a private room. Jeanette previously had some strong reservations about what hostels were and especially sleeping dormitory style. The staff melted those fears away. The boy and girl, in their twenties, working the counter had her feeling so much at ease that we booked as many days as we could for the rest of the trip in YHA hostels. Jeanette still opted for private rooms when available but accepted dorm rooms when that's all that they had.
We went back out on the patio and were soon in a discussion with a 30 year old, male Dutch cyclist about touring in England and the Netherlands. We met some other guests as well. YHA prides itself on it's "family" feeling. It was evident right away. We felt as if we were part of a larger group and welcome.
Jeanette's Mt. Zefel plastic rear fender had been rubbing on and off during the previous days. I examined the situation and finally decided that it could be best fixed by cutting off about eight inches from the rear and moving the struts up higher. I took out the knife I carried in the tool kit and soon reshaped the fender to my plan. The fix worked great and she didn't have any more trouble the entire rest of the trip.
We talked to people and played pool until it was time for bed. We were becoming more accustomed to touring and bedtime was becoming a little later each day. This time we didn't hit the sack until about 10:30.