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England

Scotney Castle - National Trust

"Staycation"

sunny 19 °C

After the traumas of booking trips away and then having to cancel due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we have begun to tailor our trip to the "staycation" system.

For us this means staying at home and heading out for day trips. Sometimes we take the dog, as long as the target is dog-friendly. It is amazing how many place are coming around to realising that there are a lot of dog owners in the country and they command a large budget. In these trying times, they need to maximise their income potential. Even when I don't have Reggie with me, I still think twice about going to a non dog-friendly site.

Heck, if I am not considered worthy of a visit with the dog, why would I be without him?

So this weekend we decided to go to the National Trust's site at Scotney Castle in Kent. It's not that far away across to the west of the county but with country lanes and two lane roads it is over an hour on the road.

To limit the number of visitors, the National Trust operates an online booking system for visitors. I booked for the 1130-1200 entry slot. Not too early to get up after working all week (some of us in the UK aren't furloughed and getting paid to sit at home all day!!) and to make the drive over there less pressured.

On arrival I missed the turn into the driveway and we ended up going into Lamberhurst before we could make a 180 turn! It looks a nice little village with some old houses from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Once back on the right track we joined a queue to the check-in on the drive. usually, you just drive and park up and show your membership cards (or pay if non NT members). For Covid they have a check-in on the driveway with ample "abort" options for those not booked or arriving outside their booked time. We checked okay at 1140.

Parking was easy and there were volunteers marshalling us into spaces. I opted to park under a tree rather than a few vacant spaces to keep the car cooler for when we came back.

When we go for a trip like this we usually have a choice of leads for Reggie. He wears a harness in the car fitted to a short lead in a rear seat belt clip. I take this off and replace it with a sturdy collar. He can be very strong when he wants to be and his usual collar with tag looks too flimsy should he see a rabbit or a squirrel to chase! I also take a small bag with a water bottle and collapsible water bowl, plus a teat bag with his favourite treats. He loves gravy-bones!

First stop was the loo for Claire. Then we needed a coffee and as it was almost lunchtime we opted for a sausage roll each. I found somewhere to sit and Claire queued to get into the tea-room. For Covid the eat-in option is not available and the tables outside are set at socially distanced spaces apart. The sausage roll was very good, good meat and just about the right cooking time!

Then we set off for the garden. They have created a one way system and it means that what is usually the entrance and exit alongside the shop and tea-room is now just the exit. The entrance has moved around the corner. The main problem with this is that it is about 50 yards along the car-park exit road and so people and cars are pretty much mixed up, with cars coming behind you.

We made it anyway. Oddly, even though you have booked in along the driveway, you still book in again with membership cards. I assume this is because the first checkpoint really just checks names off?

We were in and following the one way. It seems that not everyone can either read or simply ignores the "no entry" signs painted and stuck on posts. They are all copies of common standard European road signs!

The main and old ruined castle is down a slope in a small valley and is surrounded by a moat. The new castle is more of a stately home and is by the tea rooms and shop. I expect from the design these were the stables in the past. The new castle is currently closed for Covid.

The "new" castle

The "new" castle

View from the path down from the entrance

View from the path down from the entrance

We followed the paths to the lower level and then the bridges over the moat become two way and then there is one way turn around the island where the castle is situated. In principle it worked very well.

Part of the castle is ruined and you can see that there was a large room now open to the air and made into a garden.

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One of the rooms that isn't ruined has been turned into an ice-cream parlour! Just about right after walking for some distance in the sun. No doggie ices here, although at some NT sites they do sell special dog ice-cream. Reggie happy to have a finger scoop from ours. he doesn't care what flavour. We avoid chocolate and the quantity is minimal anyway, plus it hardly gets tasted!

After that short break we headed around the loop to take up past the castle on the other side of the moat/lake. Here you can see the shape of the castle and see the magnificent surroundings.

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The walk back is another loop on what looks like a recently made path through the trees and back up to the new castle. All in all a really nice walk. Reggie seemed to get on with all the other dogs, and that is itself unusual. You can't like everyone you meet so why expect dogs to do so?

Claire had a look in the shop and I sat outside and waited for her to buy a plant for the garden. Then it was home, almost the reverse of the way we had driven over.

Now it's back to work and we can plan next weekend's staycation visit.

Posted by InvictaMoto 02:31 Archived in England Tagged national_trust scotney_castle Comments (0)

Mount Ephraim Gardens

"Staycation"

sunny 22 °C
View Rocket 2020 on InvictaMoto's travel map.

The school holidays were coming to an end. The Government decided that all pupils and students would be back in full time education from September's usual start of the school year.

It also meant that I had to go back to work as well. I currently work in Schools ICT for a London Borough. I have been on a term-time only contract since April 1st 2019. I get the same holidays as the kids and get paid a reduced annual salary as my holidays are more than the standard paid-holiday allowance.

This staycation was after the lockdown across England for Covid-19 was relaxed. Places started to open up but with restricted access and often with pre-booked access.

Mount Ephraim Gardens is in north Kent. Not too far from home and was perfect for a staycation and is dog-friendly. Acres of gardens and park land to walk around and see some planting, some walking and of course a tea-room.

The satnav, TomTom 410, can be used in the car and also on my Rocket III motorcycle, took us straight to the parking field. we paid to get in, and under the National Garden Scheme we go tin on a two for one ticket. Reggie (the dog) goes free.

As we normally do we stopped for our loo and coffee breaks before heading out into the gardens. The walk today wasn't as varied as before and I forgot to take my camera from the car. I had a pocket Sony digital with me so had to make do with my phone.

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Staycation seems to be the buzzword for not going away on vacation or at least staying in your own country. To us it means staying at home and venturing out for day trips.

Mount Ephraim is well worth a visit whether you have a dog or not. A nice walk around the garden and surrounding land. And of course - tea or coffee and a cake!

Posted by InvictaMoto 00:35 Archived in England Tagged mount_ephraim_gardens Comments (0)

Lee Wick Farm Glamping

Claire, Reggie and Me!

So Glamping Day arrived. The car was packed and we were off just after 10am.

The initial plan was to go to Saffron Walden and speak to Chris about the GT. TomTom estimated that we'd be there at 11.24am. In the we had to abort as it was way after that and we were still stuck in traffic some 60 miles away and we had the glampsite to go to.

I emailed Chris and as he was away today (Saturday) it will have to be another date.

We made a stop at the services at Thurrock to let Reggie go for a pee and stretch his legs, and then we set off again for the glampsite. Despite the actual roads not matching the Google map image, we arrived in good time and of the three pods, we were the first to arrive. The key is kept in a small key holder and we had the combination!

The pod is quite spacious inside, with the front half having the table and chairs on one side and the futon on the other. At the back is the kitchenette and the bed opposite, the en-suite at the back.

The shower facilities are catered for in Pod 1 by the addition of a "shower shed".

So darned clean and undamaged!

So darned clean and undamaged!

Our Pod

Our Pod

Once we had unpacked and settled in we needed lunch and so we headed back put to St Osyth itself and looked for the dog friendly pub that the information book in the pod mentioned. With internet being crap the info came in handy.

We parked opposite the Red Lion and Claire went to check. A pint of bitter and a plate of ham, eggs and chips later and we were ready to face the rest of the day. Claire had Diet Coke BTW.

Then we were back at the pod, it was getting like the car knew its way. Our next trip out was to St Osyth Beach. Once clear of the town we crossed some farm land and then entered "caravan world".

We parked up by the Sailor Boy complex and parked. Free parking by the seaside? Too amazing for words. The beach is a bit scabby but the sea wall provides a path that extends a long way either way from here.

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On the way back we needed cash and ended up driving to Tesco at Clacton to use the ATM, and buy batteries for the torch. They said we needed a torch as the site has no lights. Luckily, the Insignia does have lights fitted!.

Back at the pod we dug into the crisps and coffee whilst Reggie had his dinner, then we were off again, this time to the Chinese takeaway in St Osyth.

Dinner was taken reading kindles and magazines whilst the England football (soccer to my US friends) played on the DAB radio.

Once we'd chilled we took Reggie out for his walk. It was dark and although we thought the road through the farm and stable yard was just a drive way, it appears to be a road judging by the mopeds and cars speeding along it. So our walk wasn't as good as we would have liked.

Come Saturday morning we'd had a reasonable night sleep, Reggie barking a few times and a few of him on the bed with us. The owners don't want dogs on the beds or the futon, but we had loads of throws with us to ensure that if he did climb up there would be no marks or muddy feet.

Saturday morning we had a lay in, and then breakfast, pack the car up, quick tidy around, and then we were off to Claire's sister via another trip to Sailor Boy and walk the other way to wards the Martello Tower. The beach at Jaywick is a little better than St Osyth itself, and Reggie enjoyed the walk and the sand between his toes.

TomTom then decided that although it was working perfectly with routes planned and imported, it locked out when trying to plan a route from scratch on the unit. Luckily, once clear of the area, Google maps on Claire's Android phone started to work and apart from a wrong turn by Colchester football ground where the A134 is signposted but doesn't exist, we arrived okay.

Sally and Ian have a Labrador called Paddy, and he and Reggie made friends in seconds, running around the garden at rocket pace, tumbling and playing that wore them both out.

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All in all, it was a great early weekend! The pod was really cool and it is enthused us for the holiday in Scotland later in the year.

Posted by InvictaMoto 06:14 Archived in England Comments (0)

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