I’ve just come back from a fortnights holiday in Kent and have loved exploring more of that wonderful county that has so much to offer. The fact that the sun shone for most of the time has certainly helped me to take lots of inspiring photos, as blue skies and sea are always alluring as far as I am concerned!
I was able to explore more of Whitstable on this trip and ventured further into the town and along the beach, and can fully understand why its such an up coming place for a lot of visitors, having so much to offer even with a shingle beach. And can recommend the fish and chips on the harbour there but didn’t attempt to try the oysters which the town is famous for…
Visiting Ramsgate on the last day was also a big bonus, since the blue sky and turquoise sea lapping on the glorious soft sandy golden beach was very inviting, enough for a paddle and a wish to stay a lot longer next time. A stroll along the promenade and around the harbour area was a delight and I enjoyed chatting with a gallery owner there who enthused about the arts festival the town holds every year. The town was a mixture of older more classy shops and some cheap and cheerful ones which probably caters for most of the visitors there.
But other than trips to the coast I thoroughly enjoyed the visits to the two manor houses I got to explore – the first I had heard of before – Penshurst Place near Tonbridge which is described as one of the grandest and most perfectly preserved manor houses in England with 48 acres of grounds and is over 650 years old. I loved the Elizabethan walled gardens with their individual characters celebrating a colour scheme or one type of shrub or flower like the peaceful and fragrant rose garden. The old village next to it with its ancient church seemed an apt end to the day as well.
The other wonderful manor house I had not heard of until the week before I went away was Scotney Castle at Lamberhurst near Tunbridge Wells. This was actually two houses – the newer one built in Victorian times in the Elizabethan style on a hill, but although it was very interesting mostly for me for the paintings hanging on the walls, I much preferred the older castle, which used to be a 14th Century moated castle but was purposely ruined to make a fairytale folly now sitting in the most picturesque and glorious setting of carefully created gardens around it and over and through it. Dappled in sunlight it was a gardeners delight too, and I also loved going inside the building and peering through the old mullion leaded windows thinking of the many others from centuries ago who had also done and the same and even seeing inside the priests hole. Wonderful!
Whilst I was getting immersed in the history one place that was an unexpected delight was the village of Cobham near Gravesend which seemed to have about twenty houses but three large and busy pubs including the Leather Bottle, which Charles Dickens visited and included as a location in his Pickwick Papers. Of course the interior of the pub is filled with Dickens memorabilia, so again I loved the history aspect and enjoyed a cider in the spacious beer garden. Most old places in Kent seem to have the connection with Charles Dickens or Henry the Eighth, which is more than enough to keep me happy!