Even slower when I finally leave even the Sunday strollers behind, following a route that weaves through orchards and lanes and down farm driveways and along the levees across marshland. Lots of gravel and pot holes.
Morning drizzle eventually dried up but there is no sign of sun. Out at sea, wind turbines; and in between, fields of strawberries, corn, apple and pear trees, and acres of solar panels. The roar of traffic is ever present though the route cleverly crosses busy roads via footbridges or crossings where there a green bike sign pops up beside the Green Man. But I'm unimpressed with the route so far. It is very rough in places and not designed for a fully loaded road bike. I have only seen a couple of other cyclists. Signs are fairly frequent but easy to miss and I have to backtrack more than once. I have nettle stings on my legs and bruises from hauling the bike through narrow gates and over raised barriers that must be to keep motorbikes off the route. But there are plenty of opportunities to feast on blackberries. Lesson - don't pick the ones low down. Probably pissed on by one of the Bellas.
Ramsgate in time for a slap-up brunch in a cafe full of flowers picked from the chef's allotment. Flowers in jam jars hung up on the walls, flowers in tins on the tables. That's the high point of Ramsgate. Waiting for outside is a flat tyre, my first, so I head off pushing the bike a good mile uphill hoping to find a cycle shop but what google takes me to turns out to be a sleazy back-street second-hand bike parts yard. I'm sure you have to have at least 6 tattoos to qualify for entry to that place.
Undaunted I go around the corner and dig out the puncture repair kit and wait for someone to stop and offer help, which no one does. Step Two - read the instructions carefully. I locate and remove an embedded sliver of glass in the tyre. Lever out the tube, wait patiently for the glue to dry as instructed (in French). When I get everything back up the right way again and apply the pump, it seems to be OK, but a couple of miles later it's flat again. Off I go on a very round-about route through the over-populated conurbation that is the Isle of Thanet, not longer an isle at all, just endless suburbs and eventually a bike shop which is not what I hoped for at all but a branch of the giant chain store, Halfords, where a wee lad replaces the tube in a flash for nine quid. I got to see quite a bit more of Kent on that side trip and didn't much like what I saw. Off to Broadstairs to pick up the cycle path again. The sun is trying to shine and the sea is actually tinged with blue and I pull up at a very pleasant garden bar (minus garden as such, but there are hanging baskets filled with flowers and it looks out to sea). Things are definitely looking up. Or maybe that is the effect of the ale.
Anyway, it's a balmy evening when I arrive into a tidy little campsite on the outskirts of Ramsgate and am warmly welcomed by a lovely couple who saw me cycling by the Medway two days ago and are celebrating their first night in a brand new camper van.
Somewhere across the Gardens of Kent I came across a church called St Mary the Virgin, with this stone nearby. The sign says it had to be removed from the church for being unholy.