Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Romney Marsh and Dungeness, Kent - spring holiday 2009

Saturday 18th April

We left our home in Midhurst 8.30am and travelled for two hours with a brief stop half way. As we drove we watched the countryside gradually change. More villages included white boarded houses and Oast houses started appearing; now nearly all converted into living accommodation sadly. Soon we were in Kent, passing several small orchards in full blossom and many many fields of sheep. Lots of the sheep had lambs. We drove through a pretty village called Burwash which had a tree lined street; Linden pollards. At last we arrived at National Trust Sissinghurst Castle and Garden. The castle is not a castle as in the medieval sense but more a large country house or French chateau. We approached the house along the edge of a grassy meadow with a few Poplar trees down the centre and saw the beautiful architecture rise up before us. The building was of a wonderful earthy red brick with large leaded windows. We walked through the archway which was flanked by flowering Rosemary bushes and into the gardens. Well! Which way to turn?! Everywhere we looked there was something else to see, a different texture, colour or view. We turned left and through a gateway and marvelled at the wonderful flowers in bloom. I took hundreds of photographs as we walked through. The garden was separated into many different rooms with enticing views around every corner. Often we would come out to a junction and not know which was to turn. There were many spring flowers and the Tulips were especially lovely. My favourite part was the Nuttery. This was a large rectangular ‘room’ with two rows of coppiced Hazel trees. Beneath these was a mixture of lime green ferns unrolling and other spring flowers such as Windflowers/Wood Anemones. The arch of the trees perfectly framed a statue of a figure half way down. There was also a long lake, a lovely natural feeling orchard with blossom trees, shrub roses, Snake’s Head Fritillaries and many wild plants; lots of promise for the summer flowering season. There were also some bee hives here and the bees loved the blossom. Near the end of our visit we looked into a room of the house which was open to the public. It was a library; full of dark wood furniture and hundreds of old books!
After Sissinghurst we continued our journey and went to Dungeness RSPB reserve. As we turned into the entrance road we spotted a pair of Kestrels who appear to nesting in the barn. The female had a lizard which the male had caught for her and ate hungrily on one of the fence-posts whilst I took some shots. We walked a little way and stopped at a few of the hides managing to spot 3 Marsh Harriers (2 female 1 male) and many other ducks and water birds. Following this brief but successful and pleasing stop, we found our way to the cottage where we would stay; Owl Barn, Eaton Farm, Donkey Street, Burmarsh.

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