Tag Archives: Dover

Self-catering cottage in Deal, Kent

I recently stayed at Walmer Cottage in Deal, Kent and I wrote this post about it. If you don’t want to click on the link – in summary it was just not clean. Not filthy, filthy, but certainly not clean enough to be offered out to rent to the public.

I’ve been trying to get in touch with the owner to discuss a refund for half the week – I’m not asking for all of my money returned, but as I felt I couldn’t stay longer than a couple of nights I want the unused portion of the week refunded. As you might have expected her customer service skills are as good as her attention to detail on the cleanliness of the place.

Based on that, I therefore think that it’s fair that I should warn as many people as possible about this. Please do repost, retweet, mention in Facebook etc. I’d quite like it if we can make sure that people searching for accommodation online find these posts before the cottage’s own website.

She also runs (or works) here – http://www.keatfarm.co.uk/parks/hawthorn-farm-holiday-park/ – so I’m not sure I’d trust that either.



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Walmer Cottage, Deal

If you’re looking for a place to stay on the south coast (near Dover), whatever you do, don’t stay at Walmer Cottage. I had the misfortune to stay there recently and it was (unfortunately) not a pleasant experience.

Let’s start with the name – it’s not a cottage. It’s actually a rather poky two-bed terraced house. Although to be fair to them, all the other houses in the row of poky terraced houses called themselves cottages too.

The main complaint I had though was with the overall state and cleanliness of the place – or more to the point the lack of cleanliness. Just about every surface downstairs had that sticky, tacky feel to it; while the upstairs smelt dusty and musty. It wouldn’t be fair to say that the place was filthy, but it would be fair to say that it needed a good clean throughout.

As I’ve described it to people – it was the kind of place that if you had a friend that lived there, you’d always sit on the edge of the sofa and never stay long enough for a cup of tea, just in case.

It certainly wasn’t a welcoming and relaxing venue for a week’s break, which is what I’d booked it for.

Just in case you hadn’t caught what I was saying – DO NOT STAY AT WALMER COTTAGE, DEAL.

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Dover Advice

Just a quick post with some advice for people travelling to Dover to train or set off for a Channel swim.

Complementary toiletries

Complementary toiletries

Firstly, I’d heartily recommend Maison Dieu Guest House – it’s about a ten minute walk from swimmer’s beach (even when carrying a dry-bag full of damp kit) and the service and overall welcome was amazing. The hosts made the stay relaxing and easy and when I got back from the swim on my own they were quickly up to my room to offer a cup of tea and to find out how I’d got on. Really nice.

Mmmm carb loading

Mmmm carb loading

And I’d also recommend The Park pub just round the corner from the BnB. It looks a bit rough from the outside (and to be fair I suspect that it has some ‘lively’ nights at the weekend), but I went in three nights running to eat and the food was great and the service very friendly. A great place to go for a pre-swim carb-loading session.

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Tonight we ride

About 90 minutes ago I got the call:
“Meet at Folkestone Harbour at 12:30 tonight.”

It wasn’t a secret spy code, it was a not so secret swimming code – our relay swim is off tonight. Or to be more exact in the early hours of the morning.


… Gulp …

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Dover: Sights Unseen

The plan for today was to have a quick dip in the harbour with the Irish guys I met last night (hi guys!) and then spend the rest of the day seeing a few sights – mainly the castle.

However, I woke up this morning to a message that tells me that we might be swimming tonight or tomorrow morning (as opposed to Thursday which was the last info we had). So instead today will be spent resting (can you ever feel well rested enough), preparing my kit (probably a little over-obsessively) and of course panicking slightly! I’ll still have the dip though.

I wrote yesterday about the waiting and I’m fine with the just-hang-on-for-a-few-days kinda waiting. I can relax with that and not get too wound up by it all. I can cope with the mindset of “it’ll happen when it happens.”

But today is different, it now moves into the soon-really-soon-but-not-quite-yet kinda waiting and that’s harder.

It does mean that I don’t really want to go wandering around the castle – partly in case I get another call, partly to conserve energy and partly because I’m not sure I’d really appreciate it anyway.

Poor old Dover. It doesn’t have a lot going for it in the way of tourist sights, and even then hardly anyone gets to see them anyway!

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Preparing to swim

One of the key aspects of channel swimming, that most people forget, is the waiting. Swimming the channel (or other sea swims) is not like swimming in a lake as there are so many more variables with the weather, the tides and the other boat traffic and how they all react to each other.

While I’m no expert on this, and intentionally left all the organising of this swim to someone else, my understanding of how it works is as follows:

– You are give a ‘tide’ for your swim – a slot of a few days when the tides are favourable and your attempt will [hopefully] be made

– You are then given a position in that tide – all the boats take multiple swimmers across on a tide and so you are given an order ‘first boat, second boat etc’

– You are then at the mercy of the weather and your pilot – you trust your pilot to get you over safely and so you trust them to decide when you should set off. Sometimes stronger swimmers / teams may swap with weaker ones (I think), but generally you wait for the weather to work for you and then go. It does mean that if the weather is bad for a particular tide some of the later swims booked in can miss the tide altogether (although wherever possible they are moved to different tides).

We are booked on a tide that starts on July 1st (tomorrow) and we are the first boat. Looking at things from the harbour and the beautiful weather we have here now there appears to be no reason why we shouldn’t set off as soon as possible. However, we are sheltered here and the pilot has a better view and more experience of what it is like out at sea. So currently we have been told to expect a Thursday morning departure.

Last night looking out across Dover harbour and into the channel.

Last night looking out across Dover harbour and into the channel.

For those that don’t know, how it works in a relay once we set off is that we swim for an hour each in rotation. Once we have all gone in then the first person goes back in again and so on. If for any reason someone can’t do their slot (illness, injury, fear are probably the main reasons) then the attempt is void. I believe that there is an observer on each swim and we can’t touch the boat or receive any assistance during our hour either. Of course all of this is done in swimming costumes only, no wetsuits, according to the channel swimming rules.

So now I wait.

Dover’s not the most picturesque town, but the BnB is lovely and the weather’s great and I can read and watch the sea… sounds perfect, I may not want to swim!


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