Hello dear, abandoned readers. I am home, home from the sea.
It has been an excellent holiday apart from a spectacular migraine on the first day, and one on the last day to balance everything out, all went as splendidly as a splendid thing wearing very fancy shorts.
I have read twelve books on my holidays, more of which later, and this has probably resulted in minor eye strain, and certainly accounts for the fact that I have not blogged, rarely tweeted and indeed, shunned all forms of social media.
I have eaten large swathes of Kent and East/West Sussex. My only sadness is that there was not more time to fit in more food, as there is an abundance of delicious food stuffs and places to eat them. We found an excellent farm shop called Salts, half way between Camber and Rye and patronised their shop with assiduity all holiday.
I have been to many places to delight the eyes and minds of tourists, and made full use of my National Trust membership, which is a totally brilliant thing, and if you haven’t got membership and you like history, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GET ONE! is what I say to you.
The holiday cottage was lovely. It was small but beautifully formed, and had everything we needed, except that the sharp knives were not actually terribly sharp. Other than that I have no quibbles. Oh, and there was no tumble drier, which had it not been scorchingly hot for the entire week, would have probably put a bit of a damper on things, both literally and metaphorically, but as it was scorching and there was a washing line, all was well.
There was much sand in the bed syndrome as we took the kids to the beach nearly every day. They loved it. They run round and round in circles like whippets. I particularly love the fact that Oscar holds his short legs up to his groin, even when he’s not in the water. He looks like a deranged bird.
We all had a great time, and it was universally acknowledged that the holiday was brilliant for everyone. There was very little arguing and very lots of enjoying, and that is a splendiferous thing in a holiday.
Highlights for me include:
A visit to Sissinghurst, which has been on my wish list forever. It totally didn’t disappoint. The white garden was a joy, but so was the rest with one exception. Major issues with the catering as the restaurant had the meanest portions in Christendom, and was achingly expensive. To whit: one child’s sausage, beans and potato meal for 6 of your English pounds consisted of one sausage, two table spoons of beans and half a roast potato. I kid you not. If you visit, take sandwiches, or go to one of the pubs in the village. They all looked splendid.
A visit to Batemans, Rudyard Kipling’s home. Glorious in every way. Interesting guides, beautiful house and grounds, lots to see and do, and brilliant coffee and walnut cake in the cafe. Top marks. We all loved it. I love coffee and walnut cake, and never make it because I am the only one who does. I am pathetically grateful for anyone who provides me with good coffee and walnut cake. It is sad, I know.
A trip to Knole, previously owned by Henry VIII and home of the Sackville family. Suitably grand and exotic and entirely satisfactory in terms of stately home visits. We also went to Bodiam castle, but to be honest, I didn’t like this much. It was all turrets and no substance.
Dungeness. I love this place. It’s wild and eerie and alien and not at all nice or pretty or friendly. It is angular and uninviting and I love the fact that it is all spiky and horrible and architecturally bristling. We made a pilgrimage to Derek Jarman’s garden. I’ve been before, but it always bears a revisit (as does his grave at Old Camber). We ate magnificent fish and chips at the Pilot Inn on our last night and watched the sun set over the shingle. Stunning.
Finally getting to Whitstable, after years of it being on my wish list. We had a delicious lunch at a cafe called Samphire, after which I fell head over heels in love with a Fifties style dress made in red cotton covered in lollipop designs. At £180 it was a trifle rich for me, given that I would probably end up scrubbing toilets in it, but had I a more glamorous existence I would have bought it.
Visiting the Turner Contemporary in Margate. Goodness me, Margate is an unappealing place, but I loved the gallery. I loved the architecture of the gallery more than what was in it, I have a thing about polished concrete and massive windows, but I did get to see an Edmund de Waal installation which I lusted after but was glad I didn’t have to dust, and the knitted herrings and fishing boat in one gallery were excellent.
Hastings was fun. We enjoyed trawling the vintage shops in the old town and had an excellent lunch at a cafe called Petit Fil. The coffee is stand a spoon up strong. I was disappointed that the Jerwood Gallery was closed in preparation for its new exhibitions. I’d love to visit again when it’s open.
Rye, was, as ever, gorgeous, although we didn’t get any glimpses of the filming of the new Mapp and Lucia series for the BBC which was a little disappointing. I love Mapp and Lucia and got ridiculously excited about the whole affair. I did manage to buy a Ken Eardley jug from a gallery in Rye that has been on a Pinterest board of mine for about eighteen months, which also made me very excited.
So, top marks Kent. I wish you were nearer.
We will be back.