W.G.Grace and Sheffield Park.

W.G. Grace, English amateur cricketer who established and popularised the game of cricket . Born: 18 July 1848,Died: 23 October 1915. Test debut (cap 24): 6 September 1880 v Australia.

He was important in the development of the sport and widely believed to be one of its greatest players.

He was good friends with Lord Sheffield of Sheffield Park, now a National Trust property. He played for the Lord Sheffield XI many times home and away.

If you visit the property today you can see the cricket pitch and the foundations of the original players pavilion and the ladies pavilion. Also the original rollers that rolled the pitch and the oak tree that Grace hit ‘full toss’ when hitting a ‘six’ in July 1883.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sheffield-park-and-garden in

The Pantiles, Royal Tunbridge Wells.

In Georgian times a day’s stage-coach ride could get you from London to Tunbridge Wells, thus The Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells was a major holiday destination for the gentry and royalty.

The discovery in 1606 of a Spring with distinctive reddish tinted mineral deposits led to the development of the Pantiles and Royal Tunbridge Wells. The practice of drinking from natural springs for health dates back to Roman times and the practice of taking these natural waters for health purposes became more popular among the nobility during the reign of Elizabeth I. Parties would leave the Court and travel to the established Spa towns of Bath and Buxton. Tunbridge Wells quickly became the most fashionable drinking spa as it was closer to London.

Away from Court they took advantage of the opportunities provided to establish relationships with individuals from different social backgrounds and the concept of a holiday as we know it today was born.

As there was no accommodation available at that time, the Royal entourage camped on the Common. It was not until the latter part of the 17th century that the first permanent lodging houses were erected in the area.

Today the Pantiles has a variety of specialist shops, art galleries, cafés, restaurants and bars. In summertime jazz bands play outside on the bandstand. It is a fabulous place to hang out with a chilled glass of white on a warm summer afternoon.

The Mill-Pond by Edward Thomas

The First World War was already in its second year when Edward Thomas wrote this little piece of Englishness;

THE MILL-POND

Edward Thomas, ‘The Mill-Pond’

The sun blazed while the thunder yet
Added a boom:
A wagtail flickered bright over
The mill-pond’s gloom:

Less than the cooing in the alder
Isles of the pool
Sounded the thunder through that plunge
Of waters cool.

Scared starlings on the aspen tip
Past the black mill
Outchattered the stream and the next roar
Far on the hill.

As my feet dangling teased the foam
That slid below
A girl came out. ‘Take care!’ she said—
Ages ago.

She startled me, standing quite close
Dressed all in white:
Ages ago I was angry till
She passed from sight.

Then the storm burst, and as I crouched
To shelter, how
Beautiful and kind, too, she seemed,
As she does now!

(1917)

Mill Pond. Batemans Burwash.
Mill Pond. Batemans Burwash.

~

Clementine and Winston Churchill

Winston and Clementine Churchill. Bronze statue in the gardens of their home Chartwell, Kent.

By Winston Churchill’s own admission, his wife Clementine was a driving force in his becoming British Prime Minister and helping him steer the country through the second world war.

The above statue of The Churchills can be found in the gardens of Chartwell, their home for over forty years from September 1922 until shortly before his death in 1965.

I love this statue and like to imagine them both taking a quiet moment beside the lakes in the grounds of Chartwell, perhaps discussing the way forward for the country. ‘Behind every great man…’

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell

H

Batemans and Rudyard Kipling.

“We had seen an advertisement of her, and we reached her down an enlarged rabbit-hole of a lane. At very first sight the Committee of Ways and Means [Mrs Kipling and himself]said ‘That’s her! The only She! Make an honest woman of her – quick!’. We entered and felt her Spirit – her Feng Shui – to be good. We went through every room and found no shadow of ancient regrets, stifled miseries, nor any menace though the ‘new’ end of her was three hundred years old…”

Rudyard Kipling on discovering Batemans, his future home.

Rudyard Kipling’s Jacobean Batemans.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/batemans/features/house-at-batemans

Touring Tuesday

Today we made our way along the South Coast from Eastbourne to Dungeness. Dungeness spans Dungeness Nuclear Power Station, the hamlet of Dungeness, and an ecological site at the same location.

The weather was hot, the top was down on the car and we hit the road.

Dungeness Power Station

Dungeness has one of the largest areas of vegetated shingle in Europe and is internationally important. It’s landscape is barren and wild with a mishmash of living accommodation made out of old railway carriages, mobile homes, sheds and old mobile homes alongside more traditionally built houses- wood and stone, all with beach sympathetic and inspired gardens . An artist’s paradise.

It’s bleak, unique, fascinating and one of my favourite places on Earth, whatever the weather.

Cartagena, Colombia.

Cartagena is a port city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The walled Old Town, founded in the 16th century, has squares, cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings. It was a South American stop on our Caribbean and American cruise. During the fabulous sail into port my head was full of Pablo Escobar and his drug charged career. This was soon forgotten when we hit the streets of the Cartagena, the Colombian capital. A riot of colour and noise filled the senses and left me reeling. The atmosphere was electric, the weather hot and sultry. My only regret for this beautiful and vibrant city was that I didn’t buy an emerald!

The Trees by Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf 
Like something almost being said; 
The recent buds relax and spread, 
Their greenness is a kind of grief. 

Is it that they are born again 
And we grow old? No, they die too, 
Their yearly trick of looking new 
Is written down in rings of grain. 

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Antigua, West Indies.

St John, Antigua was our next port of call and we hired a jeep off of a friend on the island. Antigua is famous for it’s cricket and one of first stops was The Sir Viv Richards Cricket Stadium, named after local boy and hotshot batsman Sir Vivian Richards. Fast bowlers Andy Roberts and Curtly Ambrose also hail from Antigua.

We then moved onto Half Moon Bay in the Parish of Saint Philip. This crescent shaped bay is just one of Antigua’s stunning beaches (there are 365, one for each day of the year). It rests on the south eastern coast, facing the Atlantic and is almost a mile long, with amazing surf and calm turquoise seas.

After a drive around St John, we tucked into some tropical ice creams at Tropical Time Out Ice Cream Parlour and Deli. The ice cream is made fresh to serve with a whole host of flavours include pistachio, passion fruit sherbet, bubble gum, birthday cake and caramel crunch, to name but a few.

We have been to Antigua a few times and it never fails to delight. The island is beautiful and the locals friendly. The Caribbean cruise season is sadly nearly over now, sadly cut short this year with the corona virus issues, but hopefully we will return again winter 2020.

Aruba. Dutch Caribbean.

Oranjestad, Aruba was the next island on our Caribbean Island hopping travels. Here we hired an ATV to get around: Pardo Motorcycle Rental. $90 US for a half day. No website, but they hang around the port entrance in Aruba. Vehicle was a bit old and battered but it did the job.

We made our way over to the northwestern tip of the island, to Aruba’s California Dunes and Lighthouse- local name.Hudishibana

Coconuts at the Lighthouse

Moving away from the lighthouse we hit the dunes for a bit of off-roading- windswept with abandoned, albeit colourful, buildings scattered around, the dunes feel a bit wild and bleak.

California Dunes
No marked trails. Hike and off road to your hearts content.

Aruba is a beautiful little island boasting gorgeous weather, fabulous beaches and an ATV in the Outback was a fun way to spend an afternoon.