The summer holidays are nearly at an end, and each week I like to do something with the kids, be it going to the beach (not far away now) or visiting a museum or a National Trust place. Now that we’ve moved, a train journey to London is about an hour and a half away, but there are other National Trust places that we’ve not visited before. So today the weather was wonderful, so off we went to Smallhythe Place, Tenterden, Kent. It’s about an hours drive away, but a very pleasant and easy drive. Being an artsy fartsy family, where many moons ago Mark and I we both in a local amateur dramatics group, and acted in many plays. We then went on to create a company of our own, so we could put plays on that we wanted to see but no one would ever put on. “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” is one of my favourites, and then Mark wrote plays that us and our friends acted in and put on to the public. “Unusually Tall Boy” was brilliant, and I was actually 8 months pregnant with Emily at the time. So Smallhythe Place, being the home of actress, Ellen Terry was fascinating not only for me, but the kids as well. The house is beautifully old fashioned, with all sorts of memorabilia from the time. The theatre is still used by companies who put on plays, and is so cosy and wonderfully restored.
The grounds are fantastic as well, with an apple orchard, and a nuttery. Sweeping views of the countryside, a herb garden, a small vegetable patch, a lovely rose garden where the smell of the roses as you enter is like entering a perfume factory. We spend ages just smelling each rose as we walked past them. They have their own bees, that are very docile apparently, and a very long arbour with climbing roses working their way up. Give it a couple of years and these roses will create a wonderfully shade overhead.
There is also a little church right next door, that was open, so we went in and had a look around. They didn’t have a full ring of bells, only one bell for chiming. It was lovely and calm and cool inside, and near the back of the church on the wall, they had a list of local residents who had died during WW1. They had a Horace Burgess and a John Burgess. Doubt if they’re any relation, but it was interesting to see.
We then went back into Smallhythe gardens, and I promised the kids I buy them an ice cream. But before I did we went into the little theatre, which looks like something straight out of the Elizabethan times. A good size stage, good lighting, and very good acoustics. Makes me want to “tread the boards again”, so to speak. I do miss being on stage, it’s such an immense feeling.
After our ice cream, we started to drive back home. Now on the way, we drove through Challock, which is where Victoriana Nursery are. So on our way home we decided to pop in. Stephen, the owner was about, so we had a lovely chat about all sorts, and he showed me their extensive variety of chillies! They’ve got loads of them. The kids and I were allowed to see where members of the public aren’t allowed to go, we felt very privileged. They also have an ingenious way to scare the birds away, and it’s a black bird kite attached to a long pole. I bought some herbs to go in my new herb patch at home (better start sorting it out), and then started to drive the rest of the way home.
We were all exhausted when we got home, but I managed to pop out in the garden for a little while before I needed to start dinner.