Knole House: making the most of a rainy day

We set off at about 12.30 p.m., having waited for Eversley to sample one of the local churches. Mind you, Stephen and I were pretty slack about getting up and it worked out well for us.

The journey to Knole House was uneventful, with a taxi at the end for the last 3 miles. We booked the taxi for our return journey and he was supposed to arrive at 5.00 p.m.

As the property is a National Trust offering Stephen and I got in for free and Eversley decided to only do things that were free. The extras were a visit to the ‘showrooms’ so called because they were decorated to provide a show of wealth by the owners. I wasn’t allowed to take photos. The rooms were dark, and even darker because blinds are used on the windows to help preserve the artefacts, especially fabrics which fade and fall apart over time. There were colourful panels, paintings and rooms set up for show. The long galleries were used for getting exercise during bad weather and the wooden floors makes them ideal for the purpose as wood is much softer for legs than stone. The following photos are of the Orangery, a sort of indoor greenhouse.

View from the tower
The tower

We also visited the tower, which was set up as an apartment for the heir who ousted Vita Sackville-West, inheriting her childhood home. We could better understand her upset over this. She had set up her own tower ‘apartment’ at Sissinghurst, but it wasn’t as spacious as at Knole House. She was passed over purely because of being a woman, and since she was a rather manly woman it must have been particularly galling.

We enjoyed views from the tower and I was allowed to take photos there, of course. There was a bookshop and cafe as well for our rest and afternoon tea.

A feature of Knole House is the deer park and we went for a walk in the park, with me concentrating on deer, but also taking photos of the views.

The non-arrival of our return taxi was a bit of an anticlimax, or so we thought. Stephen had some phone numbers of taxis, but said it was only 3kms to the station. It was a fine evening and we decided to tackle the walk as it meant we could still be out in the fresh air. In our coats and hoods we were well protected from the wind.

Of course, there is quite a difference between 3kms and 3 miles, as we discovered. Sevenoaks, the little town, is quite interesting and most of the walk through the town was downhill, thank goodness.

At the station we made the fateful decision to catch the first train which would take us to London Victoria. A peaceful train ride was followed by the news that there was a planned rail closure and we had to catch a bus to East Croydon. It was a long, long ride, especially as the bus had to divert to many station on the way home. Eversley said it took about 1.5 hours, instead of a train journey of about 25 minutes. We didn’t get home until about 9.30 p.m.

Eversley said she had rested on the bus and was able to cook her promised meal of a frittata. It made a very tasty meal with some salads.

My zoom lens isn’t that long, fortunately the deer are relatively tame and only move away if you move towards them and get quite close. One of the does seemed to be looking for food when it walked towards me – it was great for getting the photo.

Sissinghurst Castle

Yesterday Stephen and I went to visit Sissinghurst, which is not a castle at all and never was, whilst Eversley was catching up a friend in London. It was owned by Vita, famous these days for having an affair with Virginia Woolf, though she was a writer and published books.

Vita’s writing room in the tower. It was very dark inside, partly to protect furniture and books from sun damage, but also because it is as she would have seen it when she came in from working in the garden to do her writing.

This shot was taken from the top of the tower. The odd white chimneys are seen all over this area and were used as part of drying hops.

I enjoyed walking around the gardens taking photos of flowers.

The property consists of a farm and some buildings which include remnants of an Elizabethan manor house. Vita and her husband set out to creat beautiful gardens and these are maintained for National Trust visitors. We were also able to see through the cottage occupied by Vita and her husband. They had an odd way of,living, Vita had a writing room in the tower, they slept at the cottage where the husband had a study and they ate in a third cottage where their sons lived when not at boarding school. They also renovated an old stable into a huge living room.

There was a National Trust shop, restaurant and cafe.

The journey there involved a train to London Bridge, then a train to Staplehurst, then a bus to Sissinghurst and a 20 minute walk. For our journey home we ordered a taxi to the station, then caught the two trains. We stayed until things closed at 5.30 and the journey home was quite easy. We are now getting home in the dark, which feels strange because when we first came to England it was light until 9.00 pm.

We arrived at about 12.30 and had a nice lunch at the restaurant before beginning to explore. We climbed the tower and had a guided walk through the cottage, checked out the shop and had coffee at the little coffee shop. I found another little gift for Matt.

We went for a walk in a field before we left and checked out the huge fungi.

We had some sunshine, but in this photo taken later in the day it’s getting a bit dark.

London: British Library and ‘Little Venice’

The British Library is a relatively modern library (1973) incorporating the old British Museum Library as well as some other collections. Red bricks are used to blend in with the other buildings in the area such as St Pancras International Station, which is across the road. Inside, it is a very interesting place, with a collection of very old books and a copy of the Magna Carta, a shop, bookshop and what appeared to be cafes on every floor. There are seating areas everywhere with tables and plug in facilities and they were just about all occupied by young people with mostly Apple laptops.

On the left, St Pancras, on the right, the British Library

After we left, we realised that we didn’t actually see the reading rooms. It is not a lending library, but a place to do research like our WA State Library. Although the building is relatively stark on the outside, the interior has enough curves to make it feel a delightful place to be.

We caught the Thameslink train which takes us straight from East Croydon Station to St Pancras and had tickets that allowed us to catch buses as well. The bus to Little Venice took about 30 minutes. The area is a bit disappointing. We have been to canal areas in other cities and they are usually picturesque, but there was something a bit neglected about the area that mean that despite the willows, bird life and beautiful surrounding townhouses, it just missed being lovely. The houses mostly appear to have been converted into flats, as evidenced by TV aerial cords snaking up the outside of buildings. They are not even confined to back of the houses.

I had hoped to get a photo of these swans, which were a sort of motley colour in stead of pure white. But you can see that they made their escape before I could, and the camera wasn’t able to keep up with the action enough to get a non blurry photo.

Stephen had read about a historic pub in the area where we hoped to have afternoon tea, but we found it not very hospitable and found a tiny cafe nearby.

It was a grey day, as you can see from the photos, but we didn’t have any rain and the temperature was pleasant for walking, cool but not cold.

Our journey home on a different bus seemed very long, but there was interest in going through different residential areas of inner London, some more posh than others. Of course, it is all very expensive, but some areas seemed run down and others very vibrant, with interesting shops and cafes.

Our train tickets also allowed us to take the tram home for the same price. We enjoyed leftovers, followed by fruit and ice cream for tea.

Visiting Monk’s House

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monk’s_House

I’ve included the Wikipedia link because it gives better information about the house than we got from visiting it. There were volunteers in each room to explain things and respond to our questions, but the sequence of why they eventually moved there full time is not something we were told.

Monk’s House

We caught the train to Lewes, and the station is familiar territory as we went there for the,opera at Glyndbourne. From Lewes there is a bus to the village of Rodmell. The bus stop is near the local pub, and there was sign posting to Monk’s House. We asked about the name and it is apparently not clear why it is called that. We noticed that other houses we passed also had names. More modern houses have been built to blend in with the style of the very old houses and even in mid autumn the gardens are free and bright with flowers.

Walking along the line

Below are some of the other houses we saw on the way.

Only the ground floor rooms are open and Virginia’s little studio, a separate room away from the house, is locked, so we could look through windows to see it set up with her desk and writing materials. We could also see the beautiful view that she enjoyed from this room. There didn’t appear to be any heating in the studio. Perhaps she didn’t use it when it was very cold.

Notice in the right hand corner that a visitor has the same lean as the statue, I didn’t realise this until I looked at the photo last night. A little unintentional humour.

The village church is visible from the garden and even back at the house.

After time at the house, mainly spent in the garden, we walked back to the pub for afternoon tea. Stephen took a short walk up the hill to see more of the South Downs. He only had half an hour before the bus, but could then rest on the bus and train ride home.

The Abergavenny Arms

We bought some essentials from the little shop near the station and walked home.

The day was a bit chilly, and we thought it might rain at one stage, but by late afternoon there were some ‘sunny spells’. Still, we were glad to get back and switch on the central heating.

Stephen and I have Australian National Trust membership, and had free entry, but public transport by train and train is quite expensive. We took a picnic lunch to save money.

Hastings Adventures

After afternoon tea on Monday we walked along the sea front as far as we could until we were under the cliff. There are a couple of museums for Stephen to explore.

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at the end of the path
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cliff face
how to get up the cliff to see to view (1 of 1)
funicular railway
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enjoying the pebble beach
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The pier, a new construction owned by foreign interests appears to be only open when there is an event.

We walked back into the Old Town and found an Elizabethan style pub where we had the two together steak special. The steaks were beautifully cooked to our specification and the meal as a whole well presented and tasty. There were chips, but not used to cover up bad cooking, as sometimes happens. We were so happy with our first dinner Monday night that we went there for our evening meal last night as well, choosing the fish and chips special this time.

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the pub where we had our evening meals

When we were walking Monday evening we saw a place, Pam’s Cafe that serves breakfasts. We chose it partly because we would be able to see the sea from the windows. However, it turned out to be a bad choice – the only choice was fried everything and they didn’t do real coffee. I took my laptop and planned to blog whilst enjoying coffee, but the table was sticky and I didn’t like to bring it out. So, we consider that a fail. The sea was grey, with a grey sky. After breakfast we walked back to the house to pack our things for the day out.

Our plan was to visit Bodian Castle, a bus ride away from the town. I was trying to buy a real coffee, but the Costas at the bus station/train station reported a malfunctioning coffee machine. After walking around a bit, I found a sort of funky pub that did take away coffee. Thank goodness as it was getting close to midday.

The bus ride was interesting as it took us through a part of the town which is hilly and we probably wouldn’t have chosen to walk that way. Bodian Castle is a National Trust property and located just near the bus stop – which made it ideal from the logisics point of view.

Apart from that, it is the most beautiful castle. It is a ruin, but the outside is well kept and there is enough intact inside to get a feel for what it was like to live there. The man that built it came from an ordinary manor house and he and his wife had the challenge of making a castle as comfortable as their former home. The castle has featured in documentaries, but I don’t remember seeing it before.

It was partly sunny and quite warm by the time we reached Bodian. It was a delightful experience to walk inside and around the grounds. They had the usual National Trust shop and cafe, and we made good use of both. I took lots of photos, but also bought some postcards of the castle in snow and in evening light. If we ever build a castle I want it to be just like Bodian. Below are some photos.

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There were some very large fish in the moat. This one’s face looks like some sort of mammal rather than a fish.

It’s been an odd experience as we walk around the town to seeing Hastings on signs everywhere. The was also a Carlisle hotel and I took a photo of it for Matt.

After arriving back in town at about 3.30, we went to Jempsons for our afternoon cuppa. We resisted cakes and it paid off with having a good appetite for our dinner. We walked along the sea front in the other direction after leaving Jempsons, then walked back to the Old Town to our favourite pub.

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there was a bank of fog over the sea during the afternoon, some of which blew over the town

By the time we got home we had done the most steps of any day on our trip so far, about 16,929 – about 12 kms. We slept very well indeed, though we had energy for listening to a couple of Desert Island Disk podcasts. If you haven’t been listening to Desert Island Disks it’s worth while checking them out. They have interviews stretching back 30 years. Sometimes there are interviews of the same person at vastly different stages of their life.

I needed a new book shortly before we left and chose ‘The Conqueror’ by Georgette Heyer. Her books are now available as ebooks and the connection with Hastings makes it the idea choice for reading here. The hero is William the Conqueror. I’m not sure I want to bring it up with the locals, they speak of the Civil War as if it happened a few years ago instead of centuries. Being overtaken by the Normans might be a bit sensitive for them, depending on their ancestry and loyalties.

Stephen likes to strike up conversations with other elderly men as we are catching buses. This can lead to very interesting local information.

We see very little of our hostess who is a shift worker. Hopefully we will see her when we go back to the house to pack up and we can clarify the pick up time for our bags.

 

The Fox to Farthing Downs

We had a roast for lunch today, just a small amount of chicken, enough for two, with roast vegetables. It was delicious and we felt it would set us up for a long walk in the afternoon.

We set off on our expedition quite late, about 3.30 p.m. The bus was full of blue blazered schoolgirls, very noisy and happy to get out of school. As it was a long bus ride to our destination it wasn’t as peaceful as we would have liked. Plus, the bus was having to contend with a lot of traffic. Close to our destination our bus packed it in altogether and booted us out. We weren’t told, but the next bus was close behind and it didn’t cause much of a delay.

On arrival we had afternoon tea at The Fox, a rather nice pub on the edge of the Coulston Downs. We have walked in this area before and had a rough idea that we could easily walk through to Farthing Downs, then along the high ridge to catch a different bus. It was about 5.00 p.m. when we set out and we caught the bus towards home at about 7.00 p.m. We had one very steep climb and compared it with doing the 9 floors up to our apartment. Doable, but slowly.

So, now, some photos from our walk:

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Stephen spends time looking at plants and trees and I take photos. We don’t try to keep pace with each other all of the time, but sort of leap frog as we go.
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The Long Grass on Farthing Downs
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There were quite a lot of different flowers, I found this one interesting.
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Stephen waiting for me to come through the gate.
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View from Farthing Downs
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Another view down the hill
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The buildings mark the beginning of the Farthing Downs section of the walk.
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The signpost. I have a photo of this from our last trip to England.
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The Shard and other buildings in London were visible in the distance. Although it looks to be getting dark in the photo it was still quite light when we arrived home.

As we were travelling on a different bus on the way home we decided to switch back to the 466 when we could so that we could get off outside of our housing complex. It would have been quicker, but more expensive, to go home by train.

As we were home so late we had a quick and easy meal of scrambled eggs followed by fruit for our evening meal.

Most of the photos were processed using DxO’s Effex Pro. I find the HDR effects not as pleasing as the ones from the IOS app Snapseed. The files blow out to 144mb and I have to import the processed files back into Lightroom, then export them using my normal ‘for the web’ presets, taking them back to no more than 5 mb. It adds to processing time. The featured photo and photo of Stephen bending over were just processed using the Lightroom sliders.

 

Morden Hall Park

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Have I said that we love the trams? We definitely do. Stephen has been studying our National Trust book, looking for places we can easily reach. For our walk yesterday afternoon he found Morden Hill Park, which is on the Wimbledon tram line. We leave our apartment block and walk down to the tram stop. The park is about 25 minutes away.

We came home the same way, though we got off a couple of stops early to do some shopping. Then back on the tram to home. The trams are a smoother ride and much faster than buses. I started dreaming about Kent Street Weir being just a tram ride from our place… We can catch the bus there, but would have to walk about a kilometre from Albany Highway to the park. It can be done, but we take the option of driving there instead.

The late sunsets mean that it is still very light at about 8.00 p.m. We find that our evening meal times are getting quite late because we don’t really feel like heading home when we could enjoy being out. It is often the warmest part of the day.

I’m finding that photography, even in parks, is a bit unsatisfactory because we are usually at home by the time the sun sets, and it rises when we are still wanting to sleep – therefore the light can be a bit uninteresting. Plus the uniform green of trees and grass mean they sort of blend together in wider shots. A better photographer would still be able to work things out, no doubt.

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We saw ducks and other water birds, but we could also hear birds in the trees. As it is in an urban area there were also the sounds of traffic, etc.
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On the wetlands walk I spotted Stephen in the rushes
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He spotted something or other
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There were some building in the park, I’m not sure what this was originally.
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There was an old mill with a water wheel. The little river was flowing very fast. I have a video of the flow, it’s hard to see from the photo.

It is a very pretty park. We fell into conversation with a local resident. He had given us some directions, and stopped by us, getting off his bike when we were examining a tree. Stephen has a book from the library which is a big help in classifying features of trees and helps with identification. He wasn’t any help with the name of the tree, but told us that the park is very much used, especially on weekends when it becomes quite crowded. It is 125 acres, with different areas and a small, but fast flowing river. We enjoyed talking with Rocco (he is Italian, but has lived here since he was seventeen) and he told us a bit about his life and his job at a local school. He and Stephen found a connection as Stephen worked at a nearby school back in the 70s.

As well as the rose garden and parklands, there was a lovely cafe, open until 6.00 p.m. We enjoyed ‘cream teas’ – a large scone with choice of jams and clotted cream, plus any hot drink. We ended up having three scones between us to use up our jam and cream.

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A gateway near the cafe in the top photo. The cafe was not well signposted and I found it by following some women with children who seemed to be anxious to arrive somewhere. At the cafe we chose to sit inside out of the sun and strong breeze.
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I liked this signpost in the form of an insect.

We had been planning to cook a tiny chicken roast dinner when we got home, but we weren’t hungry enough, even getting back quite late. We had soup, a small salad and a slice of toast each, and still felt overfull at the end of the meal.

Perhaps this post makes much of very little, however we really enjoyed the excursion and we want to aid our memories of our time here in the UK. Stephen used to always complain that I had lots of photos, but no narrative. So, we now have narrative. He would blog differently, of course. He takes lots of photos on his phone and could easily keep a companion blog to this one. Perhaps he could be pursuaded.