Monday, September 01, 2014

I has been on a trip

I just spent 6 days in Kent visiting family and as I took a lot of photos I thought my trip would make good blog fodder.  And I've been reading a lot of lifestyle blogs recently, and I'm apparently quite impressionable..

Here goes.

My first thing to talk about are these wonderful earrings I got on Tuesday just before I left:
They are from Fabrication Unlimited, an Etsy shop based in the States, but postage to the UK is dead cheap and delivery was only a couple of weeks.  I considered asking for the lightning bolts in gold but decided I quite liked the silver effect.  As for the blue ones, well everyone needs a little bit of hope in their life.

Then I left, and left the earrings at home. As you do.

I spent Wednesday with my Dad and we went to Buttercups Goat Sanctuary in Boughton Monchelsea.  If you like goats, and in you are in Kent, you need to go.  There are oodles of goats. Big goats, little goats, lame goats, healthy goats, horned goats, sleepy goats, white goats, black goats, brown goats. Friendly goats and lazy goats.  I like goats, a lot.  I don't want to steal pictures from the website, but I urge you to go and look at it.  And check out the how to donate pages as well.

Then we went to the Three Chimneys pub in Biddenden.  We went by possibly the most circuitous route, as it appears my Dad isn't quite clear on the route to Biddenden, and when he was clear, I kept missing important turnings.  Sadly, once there, I could have no beer as I was driving.  So I had sausage and mash instead and it was good.  I had a lot of sausages this week.  Meatyrific.

On the Thursday me and my Mum went to Scotney Castle, a National Trust property that just so happens to have have hops farmed on it.  It also has some lovely gardens, and I found these sunflowers:
Hops are important in the ale brewing process and we went on a tour of the hop farm and learned about the growing and gathering process.  This is how hops grow:
Tasty hops.

It turns out that the farm has always kept a record of how many bales of hops were harvested each year.  It can vary a hella lot from year to year, dependent on the weather, as shown by these boards in the processing plant:
Some years (about a century ago) they only harvested about 61 bales. Other years they harvested closer to 500.  Can you imagine only producing a paltry 60 odd bales and having to make a living off that, for the rest of the year?

The tour included a walk round the farm to see where seasonal hop pickers lived, up until about the 1930s (I think).  They lived here:
These sheds used to have corrugated iron front walls, and would house between 10 and 15 people, of all ages, in double bunk beds erected against the side and back walls.  There wouldn't be room for much else.  That should give you an idea of the small size of them.  Some of the sheds were used by the same families, year in and year out, and still have the wallpaper put up by the families.  They cooked in a communal shed, opposite the living quarters:

This is a field we walked through towards the end of the tour:
Included because I think it's a nice photo and I'm usually crap at landscape photos.

They had beer samples at the end. I wasn't driving, so I did try them. The bitter was decent enough but the pale ale was much better. 

On the Friday morning, me, my sister, brother in law and niece went out for a fry up, at my suggestion, because I've been reading this blog and craving a Full English.  We went to The Rustic Cafe, attached to a garden centre, which I was dubious about, but it turned out to be bloody lovely.  The only things missing were black pudding and hash browns, but as I couldn't finish what I'd ordered maybe that was for the best.  The decor was nice. Our tablecloth was a map of the world:
On Saturday I went into Maidstone to meet friends and go to the comic shop.  I grew up in Maidstone and it was bloody weird being back, seeing all the changes.  I haven't walked round the town for about 5 or 10 years, and it's changed quite a bit.  It was really disorienting actually.  At the bottom of Gabriels Hill is a big retail space that used to be a newsagents.  It was where I went to buy UK reprints of Marvel comics and every time I went there and looked at the comics rack I was terrified I would be found out.  That someone would shout at me that these things weren't for girls.  Now that retail space is this:
How times change huh?  Maidstone is not quite the pit of horror that I remember, it has been cleaned up, but it still feels like a dump to me.  I guess it's impossible to get rid of emotional negative connotations.

I also visited Maidstone's actual comic shop, that I didn't go into at all until after I moved away (about 15 years ago).  The shop is called the Grinning Demon and it used to be on the High Street.  The High Street shop was a dark box and the few times I went in I was met with surly, grumpy, miserable staff.  The only good thing about it was that I got a copy of the first Peter David Supergirl trade in there.

Now the shop has moved to the Royal Arcade and it's magnificent!  The shop itself is light and airy.  They have tables outside and upstairs for gamers (card games, not video games).  They offer free tea and coffee to the gamers.  You walk in the shop and the owner (Graham, I think) asks if you need any help.  Have some pictures of the inside of it:

 (Local artists' work on the walls!)
They have a sofa (pictured above) which I took advantage of as I was very hungover and couldn't cope with other shops.  I just sat there for half an hour and the owner was cool with this.  I had just bought this lot of comics too, I didn't just wander in off the street and claim refuge:
Other things to note from my trip are:
This massive horse chestnut tree I found in Mote Park:
These beers that I drank (not all on the same night):

I got up on Sunday morning to discover the wire in one of my bras had worked it's way through the bra material, which was incredibly disappointing.  It's one of my better ones as it gives me shelf boobs.  I had this crazy idea that if I took both wires out it would be a useable soft cup bra.  Not so.  I think I need to learn more about bra machinery.

Finally, salutations to the very helpful gentleman who carried my suitcase down some steps on the London Underground.  I suspect he decided to help because I was limping, as my knee had decided to play up for that stretch of the journey.  Whoever you were Sir, I thank you!


cerebus660 said...

Great photos! Sounds like you had a good time. Kent is a part of the country I don't know at all, so it's always interesting to see glimpses of new places... and possibly visit them one day :-)

SallyP said...

It sounds like a lovely trip. And yeah, I've had the same thing happen with underwire bras...and it's a pain.

Such lovely earrings!

Kezzie said...

Oooh, you had a lovely busy time in Kent! My stepwent to school in Maidstone, MGGS, though they live nearer to Seven Oaks! I've never been!
I'd like to visit the goats, they sound great! Love your earrings too-very funky and stylish!! Ha, ha, reading lifestyle blogs is dangerous- I have bought all sorts of things I shouldn't have done because of them!!!
Thanks for your kind comments!

Saranga said...

@Kezzie: I actually went to MGGS as well. It may explain why I hated my time in Kent so much.

@SallyP: Aren't they just fabulous??

@Cerebus: I hadn't realised you were still reading, thank you! Kent countryside is great, but the towns are awful. Come to Norfolk, it's much nicer (although sadly, much flatter).

cerebus660 said...

Hi Saranga! I'm still reading... but not commenting as often as I should. Keep up the great work!