Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Our Adventure to the Southeast of England and London

Our Adventure to the Southeast of England and London

Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 02:09 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 20,931
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
No idea about Sandwich as a town, but the sandwich is said to have been invented by or for the Earl of Sandwich, who quite possibly had nothing, other than his title, to do with the town.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 05:44 PM
  #22  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,313
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
From the attached article it looks like the 4th Earl of Sandwich actually was from the town of Sandwich Kent. See the BBC article from May 2012 where the town celebrated the 250th anniversary of the sandwich and the excerpt from the article below. Interesting little bits of history, isn't it?


http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-kent-18010424


"The first written record of the sandwich was in 1762 and the Kent town of Sandwich, which is the earldom of the Montagu family, is celebrating the 250th anniversary of the meal.

Sir Edward Montagu, a prominent naval commander, became the first Earl of Sandwich when he was offered a peerage in 1660".
europeannovice is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 06:52 PM
  #23  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,313
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
DAY 3 SCOTNEY CASTLE, A BOY FALLS IN THE MOAT AT BODIAM CASTLE AND SISSINGHURST GARDENS

Today started off rainy. We decided to visit the combination Janisj had suggested Scotney, Bodiam and Sissinghurst as they are very close to each other by car and all are very close to Tunbrdige Wells so we didn't have to travel far today. All three of these properties are part of the National Trust. First, we went to Morrisons to get some sandwiches for a packed lunch.

The new house (castle) at Scotney had sustained damage from the previous winter's floods and National Trust needs to make repairs. There is scaffolding on the outside of the house. Plus the wallpaper inside the new house needs to be repaired since it also had sustained water damage.

Scotney Castle was the house of the Hussey Family. The family was living in the old castle which they were outgrowing and needed more space. The owner decided to create the new house up the hill and to deliberately create a follie of the old castle sinking in a moat. It makes for a focal point for the garden. We walked down to the old castle but it was quite rainy so we didn't stay long. We saw the little "library" where you could leave some change and purchase a book if you happen to like one of the books in the collection.

The new house is seen by timed entry. There are guides in the rooms of the new house to help you gain more information about each room plus they give you a plastic fact sheet that describes the rooms as well. In one room, I think it was the green room but I forgot the official name of the room, there were two pulley's. One would ring the bell for the servants while the other controlled the door opening and closing. So, your semi modern day remote control was used here. Interesting fact pointed out to us by one of the guides.

We left Scotney and headed for Bodiam Castle where we were going to eat our packed lunch. The weather had cleared and now it was hot and humid (better than cool and rainy as it was earlier). What is the old adage if you don't like the weather in England wait five minutes and it will change. This was true for us the whole trip.

Upon arrival at Bodiam Castle, there was much commotion going on and when we went over to the crowd we heard a little boy screaming and a man from Bodiam Castle holding a stick out to the BOY WHO HAD JUST FALLEN INTO THE MOAT!

There is no barrier from the grassy area to the moat and apparently the boy fell into it. It was gross, muddy and murky water with rather scary looking fish inside the water. Yuk--poor kid!

Well to make matters worse, a good Samaritan goes fully clothed and jumps into the water now too. The man holding the stick yelled at the man and said to him "WHAT ARE YOU DOING, now I have to rescue two of you, you are making matters worse. You got in now can you get yourself out. We have called the boat and are sending it for the boy." Not only did the boat come but an ambulance and fire trucks also entered the premises. By now they were chasing the crowds away so they can focus on the boy and his rescue. I wonder how many times that happens since there is no barrier.

We proceeded over to a grassy area and ate our lunch. They had an archery exhibit which my son liked doing. There were some men in costumes explaining various aspects of medieval life. One was showing us how to put on the arms and armour for jousting and the other showed us how they made coins out of silver and gold.

We finally entered the castle grounds which is mostly a ruin and you can climb different parts of it. It is really evocative and what you think of when you think of a castle (minus the kid in the moat part). Keep in mind though the steps are very steep.

As if the boy in the moat was not enough excitement for the day, when we entered the gift shop a little boy about 3 years old came up close to my son. The little boy had oozing pock marks from the chicken pox. Not crusted over when it is safe to be around but still oozing! Why did his parents take him out in public like that? I called for my son to get away from him as soon as possible. My son was vaccinated for the chicken pox which is what they do here in the states but the vaccine is not a guarantee. You can still get it but just in a milder form. However, if exposed to the chicken pox and if you have had it before you can get the shingles as an adult I believe which is very painful.

I mentioned this to the folks at the B&B and they said people in the UK hold chicken pox parties and they want everyone around to contract it. I think it is fine for immediate family like siblings to be exposed but not the general public.

Moving on from that excitement we went to Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens. The gardeners put up a sign of apology saying that due to the warm weather the garden was not in its best shape.

There were some flowers in bloom but certainly not at their peak in August. I think Sissinghurst Garden is more of a spring garden. We saw some of the white flowers and we climbed the top of the castle tower to get a full view of the garden rooms that Vita Sackville West had created. The castle tower has some information about her as well. The gardeners did a little garden talk about how to cut grass with a blade. I'd rather use a lawn mower! The vegetable garden was pretty interesting. Overall I liked the concept of creating separate garden rooms but wish we were there in the spring time to fully appreciate its beauty.

Back to Tunbridge Wells and dinner at Cote--a French chain restaurant that recently opened a branch in Tunbridge Wells. The waiter was very attentive and they offer a two course or three course fixed price meal that was very reasonable. We had a three course meal for £11.90 and I had the leek and potato soup, artichoke risotto and pot of creme for dessert. It was all very good. DH and DS had other offerings which I don't remember what they were but everyone enjoyed their meal.

This post seems really long--should I break it up separately? I said upfront I am very wordy.

NEXT UP: CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL AND HOWLETT'S ZOO
europeannovice is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 07:10 PM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 72,973
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
>>This post seems really long--should I break it up separately?<<

Nah - it isn't all that long. Since you use paragraph breaks it is easy to read.

Too bad about the gardens. The main draw at Scotney is the grounds but you got rain there. And then Sissinghurst is probably mostly in your imagination. Did you at least see postcard or picture books in the gift shop . . . so you understand what we were all on about
janisj is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 07:38 PM
  #25  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,313
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yeah--the weather plays on your mood so because of the rain we didn't really appreciate the grounds of Scotney as much. And while I did like the interior of the house, it was sad to see the water damage on the walls.

Plus I do imagine what Sissinghurst Gardens should look like at its peak and can appreciate that at least. It just wasn't up to snuff this August and the gardeners admitted as much by posting the sign. Yes, I did see postcards of what it should resemble. Maybe next time we visit, it will be in better shape or a different season.

We really did like Wisley Gardens though and the gardens at Hever Castle somehow managed to look great--different set of flowers I guess because they were still in peak form.

We enjoyed Bodiam Castle despite all the extra excitement. I felt really bad for that boy that fell in the moat.

You are right, the three properties together make for a great day and not too stressed time wise. All three are doable with ample time for each place. We didn't walk to the lake area at Sissinghurst because by then we were tired but we had time to do it if we wanted to do that. We read that it was better to visit Sissinghurst later in the day after all the masses on bus tours leave so it is less crowded and we found that to be true. Bus loads of folks were boarding the buses to depart when we arrived
europeannovice is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 10:51 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,860
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Loving your trip report and all the details. Looking forward to more.
LCBoniti is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 11:19 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,476
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There should be a prize for anyone who can use the word "sandwich" five times in a sentence that makes sense.

Kudos, and thanks for the ride !
sartoric is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2014, 05:29 AM
  #28  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,313
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks--that sentence is a real tongue twister isn't now? We didn't spot any sandwich shops there. It is a relatively small town.

Is it true also that families take their kids out with full blown chicken pox? I thought that rather strange to be out in public like that. He had the chicken pox spots with oozing clearly visible on his face, arms and legs.
europeannovice is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2014, 05:38 AM
  #29  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,313
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Another tidbit of information. During our morning conversations at and after breakfast we were discussing the best vantage point to see the Seven Sisters--white cliffs. While we got a glimpse of the white cliffs at St Margaret at Cliff, the more spectacular scenery can be found at Seaford near Eastbourne. Old Buffer had given us maps of great driving routes for good vantage points from land.

However, during our conversation it was mentioned that the really best way to see the cliffs is by sea and one of the folks we became friends with is a local who has a fishing boat in a nearby town to the cliffs or at least close enough by water. He offered to take us on his boat if the seas were calm during our week stay. The next day had clear skies but the seas were still a bit rough so we made the pilgrimage to Canterbury instead.
europeannovice is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2014, 06:22 AM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,585
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm surprised about the chickenpox. Perhaps the pox had just started erupting that day. When my children were young, you were told to wait until the scabs dropped off.
MissPrism is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2014, 06:25 AM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 20
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"We did look around Sandwich a bit after the fort. We wanted to get to the fort first before it closed. I was told that although Sandwich is where the sandwich was invented, you can't find a sandwich shop selling sandwiches in Sandwich. Is that true?"

I can't really say whether there is a sandwich shop as such but they do offer an interesting service regarding sandwiches (6th picture down).

http://www.beenthere-donethat.org.uk/deoprrssw/?p=804
Old_Buffer is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2014, 06:41 AM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 847
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"Is it true also that families take their kids out with full blown chicken pox? I thought that rather strange to be out in public like that. He had the chicken pox spots with oozing clearly visible on his face, arms and legs."

I've never heard of it but it wouldn't surprise me as so many parents these day seem to be too scared or just can't be bothered to tell kids what to do, they seem to "cave in" easily.
Hooameye is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2014, 07:53 AM
  #33  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,313
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hooameye--This kid was only about 3 years old so it was clearly the parents choice to take him out.

MissPrism--I was told too that you would wait until the stuff is scabbed over before going out. It didn't look like it just emerged that day either since the marks were already all over the kid. If it is just emerging there wouldn't be so many so fast I don't think. Plus wouldn't the parents notice and remove the kid from being in a public place? It was just gross in my opinion and not very kind to others.

Old_Buffer--Very cute sign! I recognized the picture of Ightham Mote instantly too.
europeannovice is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2014, 08:18 AM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,321
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Loving the report so far!!!
jamikins is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2014, 08:40 AM
  #35  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,313
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
DAY 4 CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL AND HOWLETT'S ZOO

Okay so weather wise clear skies but fairly rough seas so no fishing boat today.

During my planning phase I was debating back and forth between Howlett's and Port Lympne Wild Animal Park. DS loves animals so one of the two was on the agenda. For Port Lympne though you need most of a day since it is a huge complex and you need to ride on the lorry or wagon to get to see most of the animals. (This reminded us of the Wild Animal Park in Escondido near San Diego which we have done already and where you get to feed either giraffes or rhinos).

Howlett's on the other hand is only 90 acres and can easily be combined with something else plus it is very near Canterbury so that became our combination.

Driving to Dover and Canterbury both in the same direction from Tunbridge Wells at least is on major highways with multiple lanes. (Driving in the country to Ightham Mote and Chartwell etc. is a hair raising experience--roads very narrow that would only be one way in the states are actually two way roads in the UK. Yikes!) But today was highway driving for the most part.

You park in a car park outside the walls and then walk into the Cathedral precincts. It is a little like York but they have more of the tourist trap shops in Canterbury than York does. I like York better. Tons of tee shirt shops, phone shops etc. Shop after shop selling as Brits say "tat".

Canterbury Cathedral is a World Heritage Site. It is the Cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury and considered one of the oldest Christian structures in England.

King Henry II and the Archbishop were friends as the story is told until they had a falling out. King Henry II then spouted out "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" and four of his knights took him literally. Canterbury Cathedral became famous for the murder of course of that troublesome priest Archbishop Thomas Beckett. Supposedly King Henry II was in remorse after Beckett's demise. Folks began their pilgrimage to the shrine of Thomas Beckett and hence starts the beginning of Chaucer's Canterbury tales.

We arrived slightly before 11AM and at 11AM sharp they were doing a little prayer service for fallen soldiers which they do every week day at the same time. They rang the bells and the current priest said a few prayers. It was a very moving little service.

We saw the little candle that is supposed to be the site where Thomas Beckett died.

This Cathedral looks small from the outside but it is very big inside. From front to back you are walking quite a ways. All throughout are beautiful stained glass windows that depict different stories. I think Canterbury Cathedral has one of the largest collections of medieval stained glass. They advertise that they are also in the process of doing restoration work on some of the stained glass.

After our tour of the Cathedral, we did the touristy thing (we are tourists after all) and visited the Canterbury Tales. Actually they tell some of the Canterbury tales as you make you way around from room to room and the animated dolls are quite convincing. It was cute and the skits were very well done.

We had made reservations for lunch at Deesons which is a local British Pub that gets really good reviews. DS and I had fish and chips and DH had a pie. Plus we had lagers and DS had a coke. It was all very good. We thought it would be better to grab lunch in Canterbury prior to going to the zoo and getting stuck with their snack stands. We didn't pack our own lunch today.

After lunch and only 15 minutes away from Canterbury is Howletts Animal Park which is open until 18:00. The Aspinal Foundation which owns both Howletts and Port Lympne do a really good job in breeding different species in the hopes of returning them to the wild.

We saw many elephants including a baby elephant. We stopped and watched the elephants for a long while.

They also have a large family of gorillas but most wanted to hide in the late afternoon sun and take their naps. Plus at Howlett's they are behind the cages so good picture taking is limited. At the Bronx Zoo in NY, they have the Congo Gorilla Forest where the humans are in the cave and looking out onto the glass where the gorillas are free. I think the gorillas at the Bronx Zoo have a lot more room to roam than the ones at Howletts.

We did catch a snow leopard feeding. The snow leopard kept trying to attack the trainer and didn't realize their was a fence separating them. The leopard kept pouncing on the fence in hopes of catching the trainer. It was amusing to watch the snow leopard's attempts as the trainer continued to give his talk about the snow leopard and their habitats.

We also had a talk about their Sumatran tiger which I believe is extinct in the wild and only exists in captivity now. That particular tiger had a limp due to illness if I recall correctly. Very interesting talks and a very nice zoo. Very manageable in a few hours. We stayed from 3-6PM.

Back to home base and we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant called Honeymoon. It was okay but we had better Chinese food in London.
europeannovice is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2014, 01:36 PM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,989
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi EUROPEANNOVICE,

Continue enjoying your adventure. Too bad you could not see the Cliffs from a boat - oh well - we did not either. But we did take a boat excursion beneath the Cliffs of Moher once and that was fab.

Canterbury Cathedral is magnificent and I agree with you that the town is not as imposing as York. The CANTERBURY TALES show sounds like fun too. I was ticked when our day trip guide remarked, "Remember the Canterbury Tales? I hated it at school." Not what an English teacher wants to hear.

Looking forward to your Chartwell piece....
latedaytraveler is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2014, 02:50 PM
  #37  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,313
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Jamikins!

Hi Latedaytraveler,

I am glad you are following along and enjoying our trip report. While we did not get to the cliffs that day by sea, the week is not over yet We do get there just not until near the end of the week when the sea conditions are calmer. DS was looking forward to it all week once it was mentioned as a possibility and we were all checking the nautical report as well as the regular weather report. Yes, Chartwell and Hever are next!

We all read the Canterbury Tales and loved them so the little show was definitely cute.

There were so many things I had on the list that we did not get to in the Southeast like Petworth House, the Weald and Downland Museum, Arundel Castle--more things toward Sussex and we did not venture that far on our own but we did get to see the Seven Sisters which I will explain in more detail as we progress through. We also skipped the steam train near Sheffield Park and Gardens. Just not enough time to squeeze it all in but we were pleased with what we did do.
europeannovice is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2014, 05:21 PM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,989
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
EUROPEANNOVICE,

"There were so many things I had on the list that we did not get to in the Southeast ..." That is always the case. But you did a great deal so far.

How old is your son now? That's cute - watching the weather forecasts.
latedaytraveler is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2014, 07:46 PM
  #39  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,313
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Latedaytraveler--My son is 14. Most of the time all he cares about is his video games but the fishing boat idea piqued his interest.

DAY 5 CHARTWELL AND HEVER CASTLE

Well at breakfast we discussed that today would not be a good boat day either but that tomorrow was looking good for calm water. Today started off rainy again but cleared as the day progressed.

The main house at Chartwell is also seen by timed ticket and it is part of the National Trust. When we approached Chartwell I said, "Wow! No wonder why Winston Churchill fell in love with the place". What a beautiful property with the lakes and landscape surrounding the house. This was one of my favorite properties to visit (that an Ightham Mote topped my list).

Churchill's wife didn't want him to purchase the house not because she didn't like it but because she thought and knew they wouldn't be able to keep up with the costs to maintain it. That is how the house eventually was left to the National Trust.

The grounds are lovely and we toured that first while we waited for our timed entry ticket which was the first group of the day. As you enter the foyer, you see a glass enclosed sign in book that is open. Various dignitaries have signed over the years as they visited him. Again in each room are guides who can explain various aspects of Churchill's life and how those rooms were used.

Some of Churchill's paintings (he painted in his spare time) adorned the walls. One of Churchill's paintings sits side by side another painting by a different artist of the same scenery.

One of the guides pointed out a coronation chair for Queen Elizabeth II that was in one of the rooms.

His library was very interesting and filled with some of his research and written documents. There is also a bust of Franklin Roosevelt there as well. As you enter the dining area you see a wonderful view of the rose garden that the kids had planted for them for a special anniversary. The kids also provided them with a very large book of plants on display.

The house feels like a lived in house not a museum. However, a special area of the house is in fact a museum displaying aspects of Churchill's life, his uniforms and hats that he wore and medals that he had been bestowed.

In fact, in 1963 President John F Kennedy made Winston Churchill an honorary United States Citizen for all that he did during WWII. I didn't know that bit of information until I read about in the museum area.

We were getting hungry so we ate at the cafe (they had inside or outside seating). We went back to the cafe for ice cream. They actually have a wonderful cafe with a lot on offer.
We skipped Churchill's artist studio--we had seen some of the paintings on the wall at the main house and we wanted to head for our next stop.

Prior to our trip, we were actually debating whether or not to go to Hever Castle and I am glad we did. Hever Castle is not on either National Trust or English Heritage so a separate charge is necessary.

When we approached we parked at the overflow parking lot which is next to the lake. We toured the lake first and rented out a pedal boat. DH and DS proceeded to pedal us into a bush but they got us out of it. They then pedaled us over to the Japanese Pagoda. DS had fun with the pedal boat. I sat back and relaxed

The gardens were still stunning even in August. The topiaries were really cute and the fountains were very nice. The flowers were in full bloom. Although Hever Castle was crowded, the property is so big that the crowds easily get absorbed.

We also toured the Castle itself which was orignally the family home of Anne Boleyn , the second of Henry VIII's wives. Later it was purchased by an American William Waldorf Astor who modernized it quite a bit.

However, in the dungeon area they have a display of torture equipment. This is where my son actually cut himself on a banister. When I asked the attendants for first aide antiseptic ointment and a plaster (bandaid for American parlance) she joked with him that he must have been playing around with the swords and I laughed and said we noticed the cut in that room!

We also explored the miniature houses that are located in the main gift shop by the main parking lot. A very nice display and I am glad we saw it and not missed that because it is very easy to miss. Plus we did the Yew maze which is near the castle entrance. They have a water maze too if you are so inclined.

We did not have time to squeeze in Penshurst Place so we didn't get there. We drove passed Chiddingtone Castle and took some pictures around the outside but they were just about to close. It looked lovely and looks like it is a great place to hold a wedding or special event. Chartwell and Hever pretty much took up the whole day so the other two places can stay on the list for next time!

Dinner tonight was at Sachurra a fantastic Thai place in Tunbridge Wells. The place was hopping with locals and tourists alike. We ended up waiting a very long time for the bill because they were so busy but the food was great.

NEXT UP: RYE, BATTLE AND YES THE FISHING BOAT OUT TO SEVEN SISTERS!
europeannovice is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2014, 02:20 AM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,989
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
EUROPEANNOVICE, thanks for the detailed description of Chartwell.

"As you enter the dining area you see a wonderful view of the rose garden that the kids had planted for them for a special anniversary." That is just as I have read - Sir Winston loved his garden so much. Again, I will recommend reading THE CHURCHILLS IN LOVE AND WAR by Mary S. Lovell which provides a colorful saga of the Churchill pedigree. Chartwell is also described at length.

Hever Castle sounds lovely too....
latedaytraveler is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -