18th and 19th August
We packed up our London apartment at the Barbican and handed in our Oyster cards for a refund. London is such a diverse, exciting and “learned” city that you could spend a year here and not scratch the surface. We have had many happy visits here and are sad to leave but we are looking forward very much to being with Ann’s cousin Joyce and her husband Brian in Frinsted, Kent
Taking the overland train from London’s Victoria Station to Maidstone East,,a very pleasant journey, we soon left the suburbs for the rolling hills and fields of the Northern Downs of Kent. Maidstone East is a major service town and here we picked up our 6 on the floor manual Vauxhall Estate Car, England’s GMH Holden equivalent. It is a curious feeling for me to be driving a Vauxhall because my father always drove Vauxhalls ..four of them over the years. This one looks a bit sharper than our old grey and white family Vauxhall Cresta.
It was wonderful to drive again through the leafy narrow lanes of the Northern Downs through places called Hollingbourne and Wormshill to the Forge House in Frinsted, a tiny village of 18 homes and a C17th church surrounded by cropped fields and bluebell forests (no bluebells in late Summer!). Forge House is the original blacksmith’s house of the estate of Lord Kingsdowne, of the Leigh-Pemberton family who just recently died. We had met him at a parish dinner on a previous visit. He was a leading British financier and finished his career as Governor of the Bank of England. He and his family have done a great deal for the village and for the church and he is greatly missed here. His wife continues to run the estate with her eldest son John and his family.
This is our fifth visit to Joyce and Brian’s lovely home. Joyce is an Aussie but met Brian, a Brit in 1954 on a ship travelling to England. Brian joined the ship in Singapore and they had cabins close by. Their romance evolved slowly as Brian was a sailor and away many months and sometimes years at sea. They finally married in 1961 and prior to children Joyce joined Brian, a senior engineer, sailing all over the world.
Some 30 years ago they bought the Forge House in Frinsted because they needed a horse paddock for their daughter. It is a magic three storey home including a cellar. Apart from the odd car passing through the village the only sound here is birdsong, occasional church bells (Monday evening practice, Sunday morning and weddings!) and that’s about it.
I especially love the lovingly tended “English country garden with its summer flowers, wonderful vegetables and shady trees. Joyce and Brian are readers, explorers and thinkers and the bookshelves here are full of yummy books on art, porcelain, history and architecture. It is a treasure trove for me in every way. They are wonderful hosts and have sheltered many Aussies far from home over the years. We feel privileged to stay here once again and have a rest from hard core touring. I enclose some pictures of their wonderful garden.