In search of bluebells

In a week that had snow, rain, sleet and thunder, it was a bit of a surprise to wake up yesterday to blue skies and sunshine (on a Bank Holiday weekend – what?!). And just as well, because my friends and I had planned to head out for a walk and find some bluebells, after an aborted attempt a few weeks ago when we were still in the depths of winter.

We started in Chilham, a village between Ashford and Canterbury, with a pub lunch in the sun at the Woolpack Inn (no, not that Woolpack). Then we headed off on a six-mile walk inspired by Jane Austen, who apparently used to visit the neighbouring village of Godmersham and dined regularly at Chilham Castle. In fact I think the route was even called Mr Darcy’s Chilham Walk, although unfortunately we didn’t run into him.

It all started well; we set out from Chilham Castle, admiring the beautiful houses we could never afford, and into the woods where we finally found some bluebells. We crossed a pretty river, disturbed a flock of sheep and climbed over some very wobbly stiles. Despite a few wrong turns, we were well on track to make it back in the estimated three hours… and then we went quite spectacularly wrong. After climbing the world’s steepest hill* and continuing for quite a long way at the top in the stubborn belief that if we kept going long enough we’d eventually find a right turn to get us back on track, we realised that what we’d identified as a fence might actually have been a gate. (It was a gate.)

So what was supposed to be a six-mile walk ended up closer to nine, we ended up power walking the last mile (the last bit of which was also uphill), and my legs hate me today… but hey, at least we worked off the pub lunch.

*possibly an exaggeration

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Photo Sunday: Boughton Monchelsea Place

I haven’t been out with my camera for weeks, so it’s great to be doing Photo Sunday again. Yesterday, my mum, sister and I went to Boughton Monchelsea Place, near Maidstone in Kent, for a spot of open air theatre, courtesy of the Changeling Theatre company (review coming later to The Blog of Theatre Things).

When I say ‘a spot of theatre’, I actually mean quite a lot – we were seeing a double bill: Two Gentlemen of Verona in the afternoon followed by Hay Fever in the evening. Because Boughton Monchelsea is a bit out in the sticks, we decided to hang around and entertain ourselves for the two hours between shows, which gave me a chance to wander off with the camera for a bit.

Fortunately, it’s a beautiful venue, offering a view not only of the manor house but also of the estate’s deer park and miles of open Kent countryside. We even caught a brief glimpse of the world’s only Vulcan bomber, which made a rare appearance at the Herne Bay air show yesterday afternoon (although no pics, sadly; it was too far away).

If you have the chance to see Changeling in the future, I really recommend them; they’re completely bonkers, but in a very good way. And if you do go, Boughton Monchelsea is a great venue, so don’t forget your camera.

Photo Sunday: Kent County Show

Last week, I shared pictures from my photo walk in the City of London. This week, in complete contrast, we’re off to the country, with images from yesterday’s visit to the Kent County Show.

The annual event, held at the Kent Showground in Detling, is a celebration of everything to do with farming and rural life. So it’s got livestock, crafts, entertainment, music – and food. So much food. It’s the kind of place you could quite easily bankrupt yourself just on strawberries and cream alone. But you can also buy clothes, jewellery, tractors, hot tubs, art… pretty much anything you can think of, so it’s a good idea to go with a fixed budget in mind. And there’s a funfair, a flower tent and a woodland area. We were there for nearly six hours and still didn’t see everything.

Highlights of our day included a display by the Metropolitan Police Mounted Branch, and the terrier racing, which is hilarious and adorable – if a tad noisy. The low point was when I stepped in something unmentionable in the cattle marquee. Yuck.

Photo Sunday: Fields and flowers

This morning, I’d planned to head out for a walk around Meopham in Kent, and play some more with my new camera. So, of course, the weather refused to co-operate, and was stubbornly grey and a bit drizzly throughout our five-mile walk. This meant that some of the views, which I imagine are pretty spectacular in sunshine, were a bit disappointing. Especially after you’ve just climbed a massive hill just to see them.

But it was good to be out in the fresh air – despite getting lost and confused a few times, and on one occasion having to be helped out by a friendly neighbour (who’s clearly used to bewildered walkers stumbling on to her property). And I still got to take a few photos, especially of the seemingly endless wheat fields near Camer Park. At least I assume they were wheat; I have no idea, to be honest. I’d love to go back another time when the sun’s out – although I’m not sure I could climb those hills again…

Wedding bells

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be a guest at my friend Safia’s wedding. It was only the second wedding I’ve been to as an adult; at the first one I was a bridesmaid, so this was my first time as a regular guest. Clearly then I’m not an expert on weddings, but I’d say it was a pretty good one.

From the beautiful location in the Hampshire countryside, to watching the bride walk down the aisle, looking absolutely stunning, to the afternoon tea and cakes (I’m totally stealing that idea when I get married) and the newlyweds’ fantastic first dance, it was all lovely. It was even worth the three-hour journey from hell to get home 😉

Apparently getting engaged has become the thing to do for my friends just recently, so I’ve got plenty more weddings to look forward to. Bring on the next one!

Wedding