Friday, 19 March 2021

Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

Tonbridge Castle | Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

Look at that beautiful blue sky! Barely a cloud in the sky and where there were clouds, they were cute, fluffy and simply idyllic. We've had horrible weather in Kent this week with heavy showers and constant grey skies. Imagine how pleased I was when the sun decided to return today when I'd planned a socially distanced walk with my friend Sarah in the Kentish market town of Tonbridge.

The View from Tonbridge Castle | Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

We parked at Tonbridge Castle and enjoyed a delicious cheese, fruit, cold meat and cracker graze box from Gourmet Grazing. Satisfied and with full bellies, we walked through the gatehouse of Tonbridge Castle and into the grounds.

Tonbridge Castle | Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

The history of Tonbridge Castle is fascinating. It was initially occupied following the Norman Conquest but burnt to the ground in 1088. Construction of the surviving gatehouse took 30 years from 1230 and the mansion was built in 1793.

Tonbridge Castle Gatehouse | Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

The castle mound (or motte) also still survives and you can take a zigzag path up the mound and walk beside the moat surrounding it.

Tonbridge Viewed from River Walk | Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

After exploring the castle, we walked along the River Walk into Tonbridge market town.

Yarn Hearts | Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

Many of the shops were closed due to lockdown so we walked along the other side of River Walk towards the park. Tonbridge must be glorious in summer when you can take boat rides along the River Medway.

Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

Our walk took us past the Tonbridge swimming pool and sports fields. There were loads of people around although most were socially distanced.

Riverboats on the River Medway | Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

I loved the look of these riverboats on the River Medway. Tonbridge looks like a lovely town to live in and there were lovely new-builds along the river banks. I imagine the crowds could get unpleasant for residents in summer though!

We ended our walk with iced cocoa from 65mm Coffee on River Walk. We loved exploring a new (to us) town and will definitely return to Tonbridge again when things get back to normal.

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Sunday, 21 February 2021

A Spring Walk in Lullingstone

Oh! Glorious spring! I’d been planning a socially distanced walk with my friend Amanda for several weeks but January and February were bitterly cold, with several instances of snow. As you can imagine, we both bounced out of bed on the morning of Sunday 21st February when one of those perfect spring days bloomed, the type with blue skies and sunshine where you can’t imagine there will ever be a cold day again.

Spoiler warning: it was short-lived and as of 6 March, it is bitterly cold and grey again.

We met up at Lullingstone Country Park, which has ample parking and toilet facilities. There were many other people about, so I kept my mask on until the crowds thinned.

We walked to Lullingstone Castle which you might remember I wrote about previously when we enjoyed the Medieval Weekend and the World Garden.

Lullingstone Castle and The World Garden reopens on Easter Sunday, 3rd April 2021.

We walked under Eynsford viaduct which you can see in the first photo above and into the meadow where you can see the woolly cows.

They are very cute but obviously we gave them their space.They remind me of the Highland cattle we saw on our visit to Crieff Visitor Centre.

We decided not to walk into Eynsford, mainly because some of my favourite pubs and restaurants are there and they are all closed at the moment. I can’t wait to go back to the Plough Inn or Riverside Tea Room this summer.

I want to move to Eynsford eventually or another small Kentish town near it. I’m not ready to move out of my house yet though – we have been here five years this month!

Today marks one year since I last went into London. Life has definitely changed in the past five years but never so much as in the last twelve months. Here in my sunny corner of England, we’ve been in some form of lockdown (or tier 4 restrictions) since the 4th of November. I’m not complaining but even the optimist in me has to admit that this is a long time to be without restaurants, cinemas and non-essential shops. What is most important is that my loved ones have mostly survived this pandemic although I lost one of my oldest friends Vicky to a heart attack in June.

Despite everything the pandemic has brought us, I am lucky to have this on my doorstep. Kent is a wonderful place to live and explore and one day I’ll get back to exploring London again.

I’m still not completely set up to post on this blog again. I don’t have the right photo editing software since the Great IT Failure of 2018, I rarely use my proper camera and using Open Live Writer isn’t as easy as it used to be. I do all my Addicted to Media posts on my iPad but that isn’t as simple with photo-heavy posts. I will continue trying to find something that works. I’ve kept diaries and journals since I was twelve and not keeping up Emm in London since 2016 meant that I lost five years of chronicling my life story and I’m really feeling that at the moment. I’ll keep randomly uploading posts from the last five years (on the dates that they occurred) but I’d like to start updating this blog in real time again going forward.

How are you? Are you still in lockdown in your part of the world?

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Thursday, 24 September 2020

Five Days in Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis September 2020

It seems impossible now but there were five days in 2020 where life almost felt normal. We drove down to Lyme Regis in Dorset and stayed in a fisherman's hut by the seaside. It was one of the most simple yet idyllic trips we've ever taken. Our trip to Lyme Regis was originally meant to be a family holiday with Stephen's parents in June but, like our trip to Lanzarote in March, it was cancelled. We rescheduled for just the two of us in September and our trip took place in the brief window of time between lockdown easing and tier restrictions being announced again. In fact, tier restrictions were announced on our last day in Dorset.

Lyme Regis September 2020

We booked the reasonably priced Fisherman's Hut through Lyme Bay Holidays. We were amongst the first customers to stay in the hut and we were pleased with how clean and hygienic it was. Our hosts were absolutely lovely and made sure that we had everything we needed. The photo above shows the view down to the sea and we spent many hours lying on the sun loungers, drinking homemade cocktails and enjoying the view.

Lyme Regis September 2020

We took long walks every morning. Lyme Regis is the perfect size to get in those holiday steps. We walked out onto the Cobb when it was safe to do so but even then, the winds were fierce and threatened to blow us into the sea.

Lyme Regis September 2020

Naturally, it looked perfectly calm out there without a hint of how slippery and wet the walk was.

Lyme Regis September 2020

Part of the Jurassic Coast, Lyme Regis is fossil country and if you're lucky you can find ancient little fossils on the beach. I didn't find any fossils but will definitely try again next time.

Lyme Regis September 2020

One word of advice: Lyme Regis is popular so if you're ever going to visit, be sure to book restaurants in advance. I only thought to book a week ahead and we only managed to secure two bookings for our five day stay.

Lyme Regis September 2020

Our favourite meal was at the Millside where we sat outside on the dog-friendly patio and enjoyed a dozen oysters and a Fruits de Mer sharing platter for two. We were very keen to visit the Millside again during our stay but alas, weren't successful in securing another booking and were honestly lucky to have secured our Sunday afternoon booking in the first place. We also ate at Mark Hix's Oyster & Fish House but unfortunately weren't overly impressed with any of the food there.

Lyme Regis September 2020

We enjoyed several breakfasts at the open air Beach House Cafe on the Marine Parade. They have an entire menu of different types of shakshouka and their food was delicious and very reasonably priced.

Lyme Regis September 2020

We also enjoyed several breakfasts and lunches at Swim on the beach. We sat outside on the balcony, enjoying the sea views and their excellent coffee. The staff at Swim were excellent at socially-distanced dining and made us feel completely safe, something which was incredibly important at the time (and will no doubt be important again when Britain reopens).

Lyme Regis September 2020

We had a marvellous time in Lyme Regis and we'd love to visit again. We're also on the lookout for other small seaside towns with excellent seafood.

Lyme Regis September 2020

Did you manage to get away last year? What are your plans for this year?

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Thursday, 2 January 2020

A Day Trip to Hythe Bay Restaurant

A year ago today, before the pandemic, we decided to do something different. We drove down to the Hythe Bay Restaurant on a very wet and windy day. I was disappointed to discover that not all of their food was fresh - the giant scallops came with a prepackaged garlic sauce, for example - and with my garlic and salmon allergies, I found that I had limited choices. Nevertheless, the food we had was very tasty and we had a great walk on the beach afterwards.

I remain on the lookout for seafood restaurants that can beat East Coast Dining Room in Tankerton or the Lobster Shack in Whitstable.

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© 2008 - Mandy Southgate | Emm in London

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