After a month of uninterrupted London craziness I was in need for fresh air. As if he knew, our friend Alexander asked us on Friday evening what we we’re doing that weekend. Well, not much! And so we found ourselves at London Bridge station the next morning, waiting for the train to Etchingham. The easiest way though, or at least the quickest way, is probably to take the train from Waterloo East to Marden (about 45-50 mins).
Once we arrived, Alexander picked us up from the station and we drove back to his family home – for me as a foreigner the house was everything I’d imagine an English countryside house to be; low ceilings, a super cosy kitchen with an Aga (the type of cooker that works as a heating at the same time – it’s on my wish list for my ‘grown up’ home one day), typically English furniture and curtains, and of course two adorable labradors snoozing in their own comfy armchairs.
After a nice cup of tea we were off to visit a local vineyard. Yes, they do exist on the island! I believe Kent, also known as ‘The Garden of England’ is quite famous for it’s vineyards actually. We went to Chapel Down in Tenterden, apparently one of England’s leading winemakers. They do guided tours, but you can also go for a stroll around the different vineyards by yourself. As in late February there’s not much more to see then a bunch of leafless branches, we went for a walk on our own.
Afterwards we had a glass of sparkling wine in the bar above the shop and I must say, it was very good! I might even prefer it over some of the French champagne I’ve tasted. If you’re ever going to Kent, be it for the weekend or for a short mini-break, I’d definitely recommend visiting at least one of the region’s vineyards – it’s a good combination of a little exercise with a nice glass of (sparkling) wine at the end.
The next morning started, of course, with a full English breakfast – bacon, sausages, eggs, tomatoes and toast, the whole package. I like to think we needed it as we were going for a hike afterwards. One of the great things of living on the countryside I think is the fact that once you step outside your house and you cross the street, you’re literally ready to go with several ‘Public Footpath’ signs to lead the way. So there we went, all geared up in Wellies, hats and gloves, dogs trotting along, ready to face the elements of the Kentish countryside.
When you’re in Kent – or any other countryside part of the UK really, at least one nature walk is in order. Personally, I don’t get out of London as much as I’d like to, so I don’t appreciate the entire country that’s outside the city at its right value. But every time I manage to see a tiny bit of it, I’m amazed by the colours, the smells and the landscapes it unfolds in front of me.
If you know a hidden gem somewhere on the countryside you think everyone should visit at least once in their lives please do let me know, I’ll make sure to go there next time I’m in need for a London break away!