Sunday, 26 June 2022

A spell in the Garden of England

When I’m with my brothers and sisters, my grief for Frog is not so bad. They seem to fill in the hole that his death has left in my life. Sadly, they all live in the South East, four hours’ journey (at least) from me here in the South West.
Ten days ago however, I was lucky enough to spend a week with my brother J and sister-in-law K in K’s family house which happens to be in the same Kentish village as the houses of my two sisters.
Actually, it’s not happenstance at all. We were all brought up in that village. K’s house is separated from the house my family grew up in by only a couple of fields and a river, and K attended the same local school as me and my sisters. My brother therefore married the girl next door (and I hope J and K won’t mind me saying that).
Whereas Devon is wide open and rolling, cosy in parts and dramatic in others, Kent is unbelievably pretty, more like a garden than working countryside.

Not for nothing is Kent known as the Garden of England.
You can hardly see the village here for its thick cover of trees

K’s house is a mill house dating from the sixteenth century, with uneven wooden floors and a warren of rooms, easy to get lost in. It lives on an island enclosed by three arms of a river. Greenery abounds – both exotic and native, nature rules, and the whole place is full of magic.

The Mill House

The river and the Mill House garden

The village nestles in the chalky North Downs, where we walked most days. We spent nearly four hours in this nearby valley and didn’t see another person, even though from the hilltop the towers of London’s Canary Wharf are visible on the horizon.

A walk in a nearby valley

Parts of the valley are being rewilded.

Shrubs and trees are racing to re-cover what was once agricultural land and then a golf course

The swards were full of orchids and other wildflowers.

Pyramid orchid and Bacon and eggs (Birdsfoot-trefoil),
one of nature's stunning colour combinations

Another sort of orchid. (My sister A would know its name.)

On Friday, the hottest day of the year so far, we took refuge in the Mill House’s shady garden.

Drinks and lunch in the Mill House garden

Another day we walked along the river, past these hop fields, for which Kent is famous,

Hop field

and these lavender fields, which take advantage of Kent’s hot, dry summers as well as the rise in overall temperatures.


Lavender field, planted to flower in succession

The scent as we walked past was delicious.

Nearby the council has created a country park with a glorious wildflower meadow . . .

The wildflower meadow with neat paths and signboards (and my brother)

The wildflower meadow with rows of lavender just visible behind trees in the distance

The meadow's wildflowers, including more orchids

Imaginative seats (from*) are placed appropriately: a dragonfly by the river, a grasshopper here by the meadow.

The wooden seat in the shape of a grasshopper
(which has, inconveniently for the photo, placed itself half in and half out of shade)

It was a good place to sit and rest.

Brother J on the grasshopper

Heartfelt thanks to my family for giving me such a wonderful time.

*Blogger not creating links at the moment. Will try and rectify in due course


  1. I'm so glad you had a good trip. The Mill House looks a real treat. We are actually not long back from a week in Kent with mum and we loved it. It's not somewhere we often visit, but it was beautiful and I've lots to share with you ... especially NT visits ... over the next few weeks. Take care. x

  2. Carol - lovely to hear from you. I look forward to reading your posts about Kent. Bx

  3. I had no idea that anywhere that close to London was so extensively beautiful. What a heartening account, in all respects. x

  4. So glad the post is heartening. I think the village is a bit of an oasis, which is why I haven't said exactly where it is! x

  5. Dear B what a beautiful post. I feel as if I have been walking through a magical garden of Eden with you ...the Swards ...the Mill house ...the lavender fields....lunch in a shady paradise.. re-wilded and woven into your life from your childhood. And wonderful that you can enter such a glorious haven from your grief ...gently nourished by your family. Thank you for sharing it all with us.Big hugs and love Trish x

  6. Trish, you write so beautifully. I long for you to start blogging again! I'm so pleased to have your company in the Garden of England. x

  7. Just seen this - thank you dear B. It was always so wonderful that you accompanied me so faithfully on my grief journey for all those blog years. You have made me think about starting again! And lovely to share our beautiful part of Devon together. Xx


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