A Travellerspoint blog

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

"Staycation"

rain
View Rocket 2020 on InvictaMoto's travel map.

Staycation for us is staying at home during the relaxation of the Covid-19 lockdown relaxation and going out to places for day trips. To others it looks like it means getting in your car and driving 300 miles to park on the side of the road and then joining thousands of others in close proximity rather than social distancing!!

Today we pre-booked to go to Sissinghurst as it has recently opened for limited numbers. Of course, the day we chose was one of the only weekends in July when it rained.

As it was raining, we left Reggie at home. Another reason is that dogs aren't allowed in the gardens but are on the rest of the estate. Our plan was to go and see the new Mediterranean garden that had been made in a Greek style. This is due to the original garden developers, Vita Sackville-West and her husband, loving the Greek islands.

Even through the rain the garden looks good, the influences plain to see.

Mediterranean Garden

Mediterranean Garden

Mediterranean Garden

Mediterranean Garden

Mediterranean Garden

Mediterranean Garden

Mediterranean Garden

Mediterranean Garden

Mediterranean Garden

Mediterranean Garden

Mediterranean Garden

Mediterranean Garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

To dry off we stopped in the coffee shop and had a coffee and cake before venturing to the shop and then back through the drizzle to the car for the damp drive home.

Even in the rain the gardens are still worth a visit.

Posted by InvictaMoto 18:00 Archived in England Tagged sissinghurst_castle_garden Comments (0)

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
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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.

large_IMG_20200729_130321.jpglarge_IMG_20200729_125918.jpglarge_IMG_20200729_130013.jpglarge_IMG_20200729_130335.jpglarge_IMG_20200729_125850.jpg

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)

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