Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sandwich anyone?

No, not the edible kind, the historic town in Kent. In fact, it claims to be the most complete medieval town in England and was the first town in Britain to have a preservation order placed on the entire town.

With a couple of weekends off marathoning, Mike and I decided to make the most of our time together and share some adventures so on Sunday we headed off to visit Sandwich, a Saxon strong hold first mentioned in AD664 and one of the Cinque Ports (which you can read about in the link). However, the sea began to recede in the 16th century and nowadays it is 2 miles from the sea.

On Friday we'd heard that traffic was bad near to Dover because of increased security checks both at the port of Dover and on the French side of the channel plus it was the official start of the school holidays. We decided to leave extra early for our trip and everything was going very well until the motorway signs started to mention speed restrictions and delays but we were shocked to see the tail-end of the queue when we were still about 15 miles outside Dover. The temperature was already getting rather hot so we didn't relish the thought of sitting in a queue.

We were very lucky in that we were just coming up to an exit which we took without hesitation and then had to work out how to get to our destination. This involved a rather convoluted route along the narrowest country lanes, some of which were more like farm tracks, until we were able to pick up a major road to take us to our destination. We didn't know quite how lucky we were until the next morning when we watched the local news and heard that some poor people had spent 15 hours on the motorway in the searing heat, some with no water or food.

I'd remembered reading something about a beautiful garden at the Salutation Manor House, designed by Jekylll and Lutyens, which is situated in the town centre and so we headed straight for there; or at least that's what we were trying to do but the signage was distinctly lacking and so we drove round the town centre 3 times before we found someone who could direct us to it!

We parked down by the quay and went to soak up the atmosphere as the gardens weren't open for half an hour. Warning, I took LOTS of photos!

HQ of the army cadets

I loved the stonework surrounded by flints (it took me ages to remember that this is called 'Flushwork' where the knapped flints are set in the same plane as the face of the dressed stone)

Sadly, the church nearby wasn't open but we did wander around the churchyard.

Another beautiful cross with Celtic knotwork

I love this sort of wall constructed from all manner of materials

After our initial wanderings we headed off to The Salutation to check out the garden which I had wanted to see since it was restored. It covers just over 3 acres. The house was fully renovated in 2003 and is now run as an hotel with the gardens open to the public.

I had been looking forward to this for ages and I was not disappointed. In fact I was delighted as I'm so bored with seeing the same old plants at each garden we visit and it was wonderful to be surprised and not know all the names of them. I took loads of photos so will have to be judicious in the the ones I share.

Upon entry I was delighted to be greeted by the Exotic Garden and plunged straight into the depths of it to discover plants I didn't recognise amongst those I knew well. How exciting!

 Mike kindly positioned himself to show the height of the Banana (left of photo) and Paulownia (right of photo). I wanted to show the size of the Paulownia's leaves which have grown like that because the tree is pollarded (chopped right down) each Spring. This sacrifices the beautiful and very fragrant flowers (which look like those of foxgloves) but makes it a magnificent architectural plant in an exotic planting.

Oooooh, loving the red brick path against the zingy green of the euphorbia, silvery plectranthus and dark aeonium!

I'd like to find the name of this plant as I loved its leaves and the delicate pale yellow flower. and was excellent ground cover. The flower & leaves reminded me of the Curcurbitacea or curcubit family (which includes gourds) but as the genera has nearly 1000 varieties my search may take a while! My best guess is perhaps a watermelon or something similar as it was being grown along the ground rather than trained upwards.

Beautiful glaucous leaves of Crambe, not yet in flower

Love this paler variety of Crocosmia - we've only got 'Lucifer' at home which is a real show-stopper whereas this is much softer

Purple Hebe flowers against gorgeous yellow Verbascum 'Christo's Yellow Lightning' (mine did not fare well in the horrid wet winter and is sulking at the moment!)

I took this to remind me to search out this particular Thalictrum (it's been on my 'want list' for ages but I'd forgotten about it)

Salvia 'Amistad', one of my favourite Salvias but mine have all been eaten by slugs this year.

This is Duke, the very friendly resident cat

I got greenhouse envy as there were 2 of these beauties!

There was quite a lot of sculpture throughout the garden, thankfully not the twee variety. This little wild boar made me chuckle.

A driftwood chair

We both loved this pretty Cosmos. Must try and find some seeds for next year.

Pretty flowers of Catalpa Bignonioides (one of my favourite flowering trees)

A wildlife pond. There were lots of dragonflies darting around.

Sensational bark - so tactile

Eryngium giganteum 'Miss Wilmott's Ghost' really shines set against the dark green Box

This pretty cottage formed part of the complex

The bole of this Poplar was amazing! It looked as if three trunks had been joined together.

There was a small nursery attached but I managed not to buy anything as I've got more than enough things already sitting in pots waiting to be planted!

That was a wonderful garden and even Mike enjoyed it and was as excited as me by the interesting plant combinations. We definitely visited at the right time of year. Glorious.

Next it was time for a bite to eat before a wander around the streets to soak up the atmosphere. We found a charming little cafe named 'Goats that Dance' - the wonderful smell of their coffee drew us in and we weren't disappointed.

Refreshed we headed off for a bit of a wander.

I looked at this timbered building, translated the roman numerals and thought that can't be right - 1982? Then I realised the date referred to the Estate agents. DOH!

Exquisite brickwork

Thankfully the next church we came across was open but we got a shock when we went inside........... it was just a shell with most of the interior removed.

Apparently they hold lots of events there to help pay for the renovation and upkeep and there was a whole library of secondhand books with an honesty box to put your donation in if you found anything of interest.

We gradually wended our way back to the car, taking in the interesting old streets with so many different houses.

There were lots of these information boards dotted around and it was fascinating seeing the old photos

Holy Ghost Alley

The town had a lovely relaxed and very friendly feel to it and we really enjoyed our visit. We took a completely different route home and thankfully the traffic was kind to us. Next weekend is free of marathons again so I suspect we might be heading off for another adventure. First though we have the Flower Festival in our pretty village and I will be busy baking tomorrow and helping serve lunch on Friday.