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.

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.

a walk to the end of the town (1 of 1)
at the end of the path
cliff face (1 of 1)
cliff face
how to get up the cliff to see to view (1 of 1)
funicular railway
Stephen on pebble beach (1 of 1)
enjoying the pebble beach
the pier (1 of 1)
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.

_DSC2049
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.

Bodian Castle1 (1 of 1)

_DSC2003

_DSC2021

_DSC1998

_DSC2017
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.

_DSC2048

_DSC2039

_DSC2034
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.

 

Leaving Bath

Yesterday morning was sunny and partly cloudy, not very cold. We had a bus to catch at 12.45 p.m. and had a leisurely morning, packing up our things, having our usual full breakfast at the YHA, and then heading out for a walk in the town. We left the case at the hostel and Stephen picked it up later.

I took photos of the hostel in sunshine, some of our walk across the bridge and alongside the river, and then the street stalls in the town centre. Some of which are included in the slideshow.

The journey by bus was quite pleasant, though the heater was on full and it was quite hot in my window seat. At Heathrow we asked the bus driver to turn the heating down, which is when we found out it was stuck. Other people were also finding it too hot, so we opened the top vent.

We had a cup of tea at Victoria Station, then home to East Croydon, picking up milk and some food at Sainsbury on the way through. It reminded us that it is quite a hard slog from the station when we are tired. Having the case means that if we use the tram we have to take it up and down steps on the estate, rather than coming via ramps. I’m not sure which is harder.

In the footsteps of Bill Bryson

Today we visited Avebury, site of one of the English henges. It is quite impressive. The standing stones are mostly the result of excavation and setting in place again. We were prompted to visit by what Bill Bryson wrote in The Road to Little Dribbling although we didn’t feel, as he did, that the National Trust information was unhelpful. Maybe he didn’t concentrate when he was being told where to begin the walk. Maybe the fact that we came by train, then bus, made us more observant. We could see the stones immediately as the bus was arriving at the village.

And, we were given a little map. There was a museum showing the excavation and another showing some of the artefacts that have been recovered.

Of course, they don’t really know who built the henge or why. It dates from about 4,200 years ago. The stone used for the henge is local to the area and has been used for paving and building houses in the area. Apparently many of the standing stones were broken up and destroyed by local people. What is left is still substantial.

After we had looked in the museums and had lunch, Stephen decided to really follow Bill Bryson’s lead and walk to Silbury Hill. It is also part of the mystery – an artificial hill that has apparently been built up over a long period of time.

We bought one picnic lunch at the hostel and ate it in the cafe, alone with a lovely big pot of tea, with spare hot water.

Stephen off to Silbury Hill
Stephen sets off for Silbury Hill

In fact, he gave up after awhile. It had become very rainy and wet, and was very muddy underfoot. I had experienced it myself doing a walk partway around the circle of stones. We met up at the church. I had already been in, so he had a look, then went back to the museum for a while, whilst I retreated to the cafe.

The following are some photos from my walk in an Apple Photos slideshow. It tells a story of a rainy day, with a short burst of sun and blue sky, just before we set off on our walks.

 

 

Bath

Sunday afternoon we went for a walk to the Water Tower Park (as we call it, not the proper name) and did some shopping.

On Monday morning we were on our way early and had to stand on the train as far as Clapham Junction. We made our way to the Victoria Bus Station in good time (about an hour before our bus). Most of the people there got onto the bus before ours, so we were able to have two seats each to spread out.

The bus journey took about 2.5 hours and we enjoyed views of the countryside. We found a place for tea/coffee on arrival, then caught a bus up the hill to the hostel. Our room is nice, it has 6 beds, but because we booked an extra night he wanted to put us in one room for the four nights and it was easier for it to be the family room rather than a two bed room. The whole place is very comfortable, with an attractive self catering kitchen, a couple of dining rooms and a comfortable lounge room. We have paid for breakfasts and it’s possible to have other meals here as well.

YHAadjusted, Bath
YHA Bath
Our YHA room
Our room with windows over garden and glimpses of Bath

 

We unpacked, then went back down the hill to walk around. Stephen wanted to go to the Theatre Royal for a show, and we were able to book $6.00 tickets for a show that evening. We saved on the tickets, but had our meal at the Theatre restaurant, not cheap, but the food was good, so we didn’t regret it.

We saw King Charles III, described as future history. It was supposed to be a comedy sending up the royal family, but felt more like a tragedy, especially as it was in blank verse.

Theatre Royal, Bath
Theatre Royal, Bath.

The bus to our hostel is cheap (subsidised for the University of Bath), and runs 24/7, so no problem getting back late at night.

In the morning, very sad, I was quite ill with a headache and nausea. I skipped breakfast. Stephen went down to the Tourist Information Centre and to visit a museum and I was so ill that it was nice to be on my own. However, there were staff around and other guests, so not really alone. It was hard to imagine feeling better, but this evening I have been able to eat and drink and think I may be on the mend.

They saved a plate of breakfast for me. The chef was a bit worried about giving me warmed up food, but I didn’t want a lot anyway and it seemed to be fine. Stephen had one of their other dishes and desert, which he shared with me. A bottle of lemonade between us also helped.

We have stayed in the dining room because I want to write and their didn’t appear to be much room in the lounge. When Stephen got back we sat there for a couple of hours reading before dinner.

Uploading photos is rather slow, so this will do for this post.

Beautiful

We had an enjoyable afternoon yesterday, catching the train to Victoria Station, then a bus through the city to the Aldwych Theatre to see ‘Beautiful – The Carole King Musical’.

When we went to a London theatre a few weeks ago there were no security checks. This time, there was a fairly careful check of our bags before entry, which we found most reassuring. The theatre was old and very pretty – though I did not take photos due to the press of people in the smallish foyer.

Stephen stood inside, then outside to try to sell our extra ticket. We had bought the tickets for this show thinking that Ron would come. Eventually he was able to sell it to a couple of American women. They had just flown in on the day and were looking for tickets and prepared to sit apart to save a little money. We were very pleased to get back most of the money. Ron had offered to pay for it, but we didn’t like to take money from him since he couldn’t help being ill.

The show itself was extremely well done. The music spanned the mid sixties to mid eighties and we knew all of it, though hadn’t been aware of who composed it. In fact, we didn’t remember Carole King as a singer. The storyline traced her artistic life from a 16 year old for about 15 years or so. There were a couple of groups of singer/dancers on stage as well as her mother, husband, manager and good friends. Very enjoyable both musically and emotionally – I expect because it was meaningful to people of our generation. They got a standing ovation at the end.

We walked along The Strand for a while afterwards to find somewhere to have a cup of tea. We had had our usual picnic lunch on the way to the theatre whilst sitting on the bus – and had banana and chocolate at interval. Still, we were quite hungry by the time we arrived home, in the dark as usual.

It was pretty cold, but I wore an extra jumper underneath my coat, and Stephen’s coat is made for very cold conditions, so we didn’t have any problems with the cold. It was fine and sunny in the afternoon, after snow and drizzle in the morning.

This morning is sunny as well. I took a couple of photos from the balcony for this post.

Sunny Day
View towards London
Sunny Day2
View to the South (used the Dehaze Filter in Lightroom)

I am doing lots of little loads of washing at the moment as we are going to Bath for five nights and I like to be up to date with washing.