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ENGLAND        DIARY 11   2016   

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I'm still exploring the Brighton-Canterbury area.

19/6 On my way to Standen House and Garden, I pass some more of the strange houses with white chimneys, this time they are square though. (It later turns out to be hob-drying houses). As usual, I have chosen the shortest route - which usually means the narrow and slow one, but also the one that is most interesting.
Standen was build in 1880, and the seven hectare garden soon after, by the lady of the house; Mrs Beale. It is now being restored to its glory in the 1920s. That sounds fantastic, but it is only a small part of the park, which actually is a neat garden. And some are kitchen garden and orchard. The old fruit espaliers are amassing, and so is the flowering meadow. The rest of the main features are still being restored, I think. Or they are still too young to have reach the state they ought to have.
I do some long loops around the quarry garden, a deep hole with a little, green pond in the button. The heathers have just been planted, but will look great in a few years. The rest is like a normal forest to me.
The house is late Victorian, and nice, but not that interesting. I find the winter garden, but it is just partly filled, and with common and rather ugly plants. I had booked a tour around the garden, but I rather head on. One of the best sights in the garden, is a long the driveway, where the sandstone wall is exposed.

Wakehurst Botanical Garden is part of KEW, and it is here, the Millennium Seed Bank is located. It is an impressive building, and I even know someone who is working here. Unfortunately, it is Sunday, but all the labs have glass walls, and I get a good impression on how they work.
They have so fare gathered two billions seeds from 34.000 species of wild plants, and they got plenty of room for way more in the coolers. Only a small part is kryo-preserved - strangely enough. Outside are some raised beds with typical English biotopes: Beach, limestone, mountain, meadow, and cornfield.
The entire garden is a strange horseshoe-shape. Some areas are almost "Brownish" landscape, some are with specific plants like Tony Schilling Asian Heath Garden, Southern Hemisphere Garden, Monocot Border, Horsebridge Wood with American trees, Himalayan Glade and The Oaks. Besides from that, here are many other areas, scattered around on the 200 hectares. The Irish Dell, several ponds and a bit lake, Water Garden, Pinetum, Sandstone Outcrop with some great root-formations, Bethlehem Wood to name a few. One area is set off to recycling the debris to compost. They have several young Wollemi Pine; Wollemia nobilis, and despite it is only 1,7 metres tall, one have cones.
The first walled garden I find is wasted on a formal hedge. Make no sense. The next have a lot of flowering plants - earlier in the summer.
I get to see the most if not all, but I do miss a greenhouse. Here is a house, but in sandstone. The old mason, which inside have lost most of its dignity. Only a few pieces of furniture and fireplaces remains. The rest is art and schoolchildren education.
The most interesting plant I find is probably a purple-flowering root-parasite, but I have no clue to which. On the way out, I see a huge group of flowering orchids, which seems to be a weed around here.

When I skip the tea, I might get to see a third garden; Sheffield Park and Garden. This is again one of Lancelot Brown's creations, and that is easy to see. The perfect English Landscape, given a extra nudge. Behind it all, the huge Gothic castle from 1769 overviews it all. It is almost a relief, it in not open to the public.
Here, the garden, around 260 years after it was started, it still look great. The original trees, and those older who fitted in, are enormous. The redwood have reach 30 metres, and the base is several metres.
Like everything Brown made, it is grand scale. Here are no tiny formal beds, just many lakes, grand views and long walks, revealing new sights all the time. The plants are chosen for the leaf colour, their shape or flowers. A rather recent restored "Palm-walk" must be another designers work.
After several loops and long walks, the park is closing, and the quest to find a camp-site starts. I did remember to stock dinner yesterday, and I head back for the lawn-camp I used the day before yesterday. It is just on the way to the next sight.
Again, the GPS leads me out in the countryside by the narrow roads. The woods are real dark tunnels now, and despite the sun most of the day, the clouds are closing in fast. When the little village of Fletching turns up, I have to make a stop and try to capture the houses and the little, pointy church. The Griffin Pub has internet - but none can connect. Not worse a cup of tea, it turns out - too late. So much  for that internet-plan.
When I finally get to the camp, it is closed? Back on the A21, and hope for the best. And within a few miles, another camp turns up, and they have no problem with me sleeping in the car. Real cosy place, but no internet.
The many photos of the day goes into a slideshow with Sheffield Park and Garden, one with Wakehurst Botanical Garden and one with Standen House and Garden. And while I'm at it, I make another slideshow with the tour-photos in general.

20/6 A light rain keep me sleeping late, and then I start working till after ten, hoping for some dry weather. I give up, and head for Bodiam Castle - again. The first time I visited, it was pouring down, and I was not a member of the National Trust.
It is still raining, but at least, I get the parking and entrance for free. The castle is pretty much intact, considered it dates back to 1385. Well, quite a lot of the sealing is missing, and that could have come in handy today. It was destroyed in the civil war. A few rooms are partly restored, but here is not really much to see on a rainy and windy day like this. Five species of bats live here, they can't be seen, but I can surely smell and hear them. Here should allegedly be Brown Long-Eared, Daubenton's ,Nattere's, Common Pipistrelle and Soprano Pipistrelle bats. When I have seen it all, but the bats, but along with a walk in the real wet grass all around, I head on.

Not that is help much; the next sight; Sissinghurst Castle Garden was destroyed by 3000 of Napoleon's soldiers - when they were prisoners here. Only the gate towers and some of the function buildings remains. But the garden is restored to what Vita Sackville-West wanted it to be, when she took over the family house in 1932.
The place have been used since the Saxon pig farmers, then the non-noble but rich Baker build the impressive house, in the 16th century to impress Queen Victoria. She was, and he become a knight.
Only a few rooms are open, but the garden is a immense abundance of flowers. I had thought it was kind of over for this summer, judging from the last few gardens, but here all are filled with flowers. Some old walls, some of the minor buildings and several other features form a perfect frame. Despite the rain, it is a joy to walk around in the different yards and see the flowers and general motives.
The 78 steps to the top of the towers give a great overview, both to the different gardens, but also to the buildings. A bigger park surrounds the place along with some orchards, but I have had water enough for one day.
On the way out, I pass several of these strange, round buildings with white chimneys. It turns out they were made fro drying the hob for beer brewing. Now, most are turned into someone's house, but the strange outer shape is preserved. 

Leeds Castle and Garden are quite close, and it should have some roof left. I find it fast, but the 25 pound for the entrance is too much, for what look like so many other castles I have seen for free.
A longer drive bring me to Margate and the nature here. Well, the 60 kilometres take four and a half hour, and I pull over at a campsite before I actual get there. On the positive side; the else so soaked trousers and shoos are bone dry by now, and I'm partly cooked.
I get most photos sorted in the queues, and that leave time for a walk in the nearby nature in the afternoon.
The sun is finally clear, and it is a lovely evening. Back with more photos, I work till after dark - and that is late. The first diary-pages get straighten out a bit, and the accountancies updated. 

21/6 Another perfect sunny day, and I had the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral on my list, but I guess they keep it for the future. The nearby Shell Grotto might be an ancient religious sight - or a hoax from before 1835, where it was re-discovered. But considered it is embedded with 4.6 million shells in symbolic patens, it could be an old pagan temple?
The Grotto Road is in a area I wouldn't come to else. Houses from around 1900, who have never seen paint or renovation, it seems. There is a hour till it opens - if it is the right place - I do have my doubts, despite the shop with the name and the road's name.
It is real close to the sea, but strangely enough, the sea is up the real steep road. A cable-guy park behind me, and when I get back, his car have ruled ten metres back down, and just bumped into a wall with five centimetres. Else, it would have continued down the T-junction and into a house. He only got a small dent to the step, which he will blame someone else for. But he will remember the handbrake the rest of the morning....
The coast line is fare from interesting, a bit like the area I parked in, and I find a closed pub with an open internet.
Back at the shop, it turns out to be the right place. A small museum with way too much text and a staircase to the cave underneath.
Several tunnels leads into a square chamber. Here are two and a half meter if not three to the sealing, and the walls are smooth. Well, except for the endless shells. Seeing it, I start to doubt is should be 2000 years old pagan temple. Too neat, too tall, too "clean". But it have taken considerable time just to gather the shells, carve it out and mount the shells. And it does have a strange atmosphere.

Feeling a bit peckish, why not drive to Sandwich? It use to be the fourth biggest town in England - 500 years ago, before the harbour sanded till. Many of the timber frames houses remains, and it still have boats in the river. The Strand Street should be the hot-spot, but many are found down the narrow alleys.
In the fare end, The Salutation Garden is found. It is a flower-park, and I have seen better. Their cactus and succulent bed is pathetic, and many of the plants will not make it. Some of the flowering beds are nice, and the lake could be nice without the dock's weed. I try to find some interesting areas, and some new features.
Then I zigzag back through town, and find a little cafe, serving sandwiches. The luxurious one comes with a salad, and I get a fired egg-sandwich. No bit gastronomic adventure, but now I can say; I had a sandwich in Sandwich.
The boats in the canal or river are a combination of narrow house-boats and plastic sailors. Further out, a sign show off to a Nature Reserve. Well, if you are into stinging needles and ivy, it is interesting, I guess.

A bit further down the coast, a working lighthouse is found. And not any light-house. South Foreland Lighthouse is the first one to be electrified, and also the first site of international radio transmission. But is still look like a short, little lighthouse.  I forgot my membership slip in the car, but enters by a back-road anyway. A long chat with an old fart living right next to it. He have seen a lot...
The area is a interesting limestone land with orchids and other special plants. The road I find reminds me of Africa, although here are no hippos in the ponds on the road. The cliffs are not that impressive here, but rather windy. I botanises a bit inland, but here are nothing real new or interesting to be found.

A bit further down the coast. National Trust have some White Cliffs, and I hope of a cafe with internet too. The huge Dover Castle can be seen form the rural road, and I make a loop around Fox Hill to get a photo. Here I find flowering Anacamptis orchids, which is a first.
From the car-park and reception, there is a superb view over - the Dover Harbour. It was tempting to sail home, but there are no connections to Denmark, and I got a nursery I'm considering to visit in Germany anyway.
I get my last Cream Tea, this time the Kentish way - which include the same ingredients: A pot of tea, two scones with rosins, a small jar with jam and cream; something between wiped double cream and butter. But although there are internet, I can't connect here either. And again; I'm not alone.
A stroll along the cliffs reveals some interesting plants and a few good motives. Besides from I would not have gone a lot of the places, the National Trust membership of 63 pounds have saved me around 400 pounds. It can only be recommended. The last general pictures from
Around Canterbury.

To find internet and burn off the last pounds, I head into Dover. It is actually not a bad city, but the shops are closing. Even the huge supermarkets close on a weekday at five! I shop a few everyday objects like an umbrella, superglue and stock food for the tour home. Then a quite good vegetarian pizza, and it is time to find a nearby campsite. I end up in Martin Mill, and again, I have it almost to my self - except for the usual rabbits. But I do appreciate I got here before the midterm holydays. Everyone say; it will be packed, and reservations are necessarily.
I figured, I have seen almost everything I got here to see, and a lot of additionally things, on top of that. Work and friends want me back, and after 44 days, it might be time. I have experienced some fantastic nature, got a real good idea of what true English garden and landscape is about, got some good contacts, but no work. I have taken 7300 photos in England, and driven 6300 kilometres in England alone. Wales was 1000, and the continental Europe add 2300 kilometres. My little, 13 years old VW Lupo have driven like a dream, and have been the best bedroom I ever had. It will pass 300.000 kilometres on the way through Germany.

22/6 I get up early and head for the tunnel. I checked last night, if there were and vacant trains, and all were. What I didn't see was; there is a 85 pound additionally fee to buy the ticket at the check-in. More than the actual ticket!  I should have booked!
Through France, Belgium, Holland and in Germany, I make a slight detour visit a nursery I've done business with before. Then it is just 600 kilometres up through Germany to reach the ferry. I just get to eat my dinner, then I board. 170 kilometres more, and I'm home. The total 1400 kilometres home did not feel bad, but I was lucky enough to avoid any queues in Germany or any other place.
Considering I had my doubts about England being interesting enough, it been a blast of a tour!



Camps   470
Admission  (inck. NT) 400
Diesel   334
Food   460
Gear   165
Ferry,Tunnel 550
DKK: 22.776 2.379

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