Last week we spent our yearly vacation in the UK. We rented a cottage in Hunton, Maidstone. First time ever we’ve rented a house in the UK by the way! 16 years ago we saw London, but that was just three days in a hotel. Hotels however are not really my thing, they make me feel somewhat claustrophobic 🙂
It wasn’t easy to find a holiday home in the UK… at least not as easy as it is to find a gîte in France. But I did manage to find a cottage that fitted within our budget. Our trip didn’t go smoothly though. Our ferry was delayed with two hours, on Sunday I was sick from a cold that I had caught on the ferry and on Tuesday we had a car accident.
The Silver Cottage in Hunton was a lovely retreat. Very quiet, at the end of a no way through street, with a gorgeous view on the meadows. The house itself was not big, but big enough for the three of us. We didn’t really sleep very well though… we slept under the roof and there was a window right above us. The curtain didn’t make the room dark enough and so we were always woken up by the (early) sunlight. I mentioned this to the house owners, and they said they would see if they could change that.
Driving left was quite a challenge as well. On Tuesday we were driving on a road with many cars and traffic lights and it was so confusing. One moment I saw red lights, so I told my husband to stop, which he did, immediately… the following moment we were hit by the car behind us – because the lights were not red for us, but green (so we heard after the accident). The fourth car behind us (a lorry) couldn’t stop, so he hit the van, and the van hit the red car behind us, and the red car hit us… It all happened so fast… The man in the van had a head wound and was bleeding (but otherwise he was fine), and the man in the red car behind us was in shock… His car looked awful. I think we got off quite good. There is damage to the trunk, but it still closes and our car is still driving and the lights are okay.
Having an accident is always awful, but having it abroad is even more unsettling. The police came to the scene and they were very friendly, but it was a hell of a job to get hold of all the information we needed for the insurance.
That was the bad news 🙂 The good news is that the trip to Kent was really nice. We enjoyed the lush green landscapes of ‘The Gardens of Kent’ and we have seen some beautiful places.
Leeds Castle (Monday 13th July)
Leeds Castle is 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Maidstone (where we stayed). It was once owned by the legendary King Henry VIII. The last owner was Olive Paget, the daughter of Almeric Paget, later Lord Queenborough, and his wealthy American wife Pauline Whitney. In 1931 Olive became Lady Baillie, through her third marriage to Sir Adrian Baillie. She transformed Leeds Castle into a luxury retreat, with no expense spared. The couple divorced in 1944. Olive died in 1974 and she wanted the castle to be open for the public after her death. Leeds Castle now belongs to the Leeds Castle Foundation. It’s a 15 minutes walk through the park before you get to the castle, but there is so much to see on The Woodland Walk. Some pictures:
The Queen’s Bathroom – how romantic is this!
The Maze – a difficult one! We couldn’t find the entrance to the center and the mysterious grotto, so we cheated and went in through another passage, but sshhtt don’t tell anyone 🙂
The lovely flower garden
A view of the castle on our way back to the entrance.
Hever Castle (Wednesday 15th July)
Ah … Hever Castle … Definitely my favourite of the whole week! Anna Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, grew up here. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside. But you can see pictures on their website. The castle was impressive, but the gardens were even more impressive! We simply didn’t want to leave… Let me show you why!
The entrance to the Italian Garden – my absolute favourite! It was created between 1904 and 1908 by Joseph Cheal & Son, turning marshland into this spectacular garden. It was designed to display William Waldorf Astor’s collection of sculpture and statuary.
See-through ‘windows’ to other parts of the garden.
The walk through the Italian Garden leads to the lake where you can take a boat.
The romantic stairs that lead to the Anna Boleyn Walk around the park.
Whitstable (Thursday 16th July)
On Thursday we went to Whitstable, a charming town by the sea. We loved walking through it’s streets full of independent craft and gift shops, galleries, delicatessens and fashion shops. Some pictures!
We parked our car at about 20 minutes from the center but we enjoyed the walk along the the “Tankerton Slopes”. First thing we saw were these colourful beach houses.
The center has some really cute shops… Like this charming bookstore, with three storages of cards and books. I came home with lots of inspiration!
Quite expensive, but totally irresistible: The Clothes Horse. In addition to Noa Noa, the shop sells clothing brands such as Sandwich, Bohemia,Darling, and the Scandinavian clothing brand Cream as well as many jewellery lines and homeware. I was tempted, but didn’t buy anything by the way.
The Tankerton Slopes – the rough ground between Marine Parade and the sea. It is home to one of Britain’s rarest plants, Hog’s Fennel.
The water was quite cold and there was a strong wind, but she insisted on bathing her feet 🙂
Canterbury (Friday 17th July)
We finished our week with a visit to Canterbury. We were impressed by the cathedral, had fun at Canterbury Tales and we ate Fish & Chips on the Butter Market.
The very impressive ceiling of the cathedral
The stairs are leading to the Trinity Chapel
The Cloister connected the different parts of the monastery when the Cathedral was home to a community of monks.
The Canterbury Pilgrim’s Hospital of Saint-Thomas dates from the 12th century
Impressive, this shop of vintage clothes!
Canterbury Tales – A visitor attraction that brings Chaucer’s famous tales of medieval misadventures to life through sound, smell and sight. This was great and we even had a Dutch audio guide.
Ending our day at The Old Butter Market with Fish & Chips 🙂
Despite the difficulties we had, I feel refreshed and I’ve found so much inspiration in the things we’ve seen. I have some great ideas for my Etsy store, so stay tuned!