April 2024

Well – Another Spring after a pretty mild winter, some marigolds are still flowering, the bluebells, wild garlic, wood anemonies, red campion, celandine, lady’s smock, herb Robert, violets, dandelion, white & yellow nettle, cowslips, cow parsley, wild strawberry, stitchwort and primroses are all out at the same time so the woods and hedgerows are a joy with the first early purple orchids and more patches of Parasitic toothwort which I am particularly happy about – years ago my teenage son was delighted to find a small clump on one of his forays and was anxious to show me, excited by the thought they were rare wild orchids – only on further delving found them to be Toothwort – I reassured him they were still rare as my friends and I had never discovered them before.

Malcolm has scaled down his building this year - from a whole new fantastic eco house for our son Jack and his wife Ancella - to a recycled greenhouse, particularly in the hope of growing tomatoes, and a dovecote to try and tempt the doves who were a pest nesting in the horse barn last year, so far, they have ignored it but are at least nesting outside under the eaves like they used to. Perhaps the babies will find it more to their liking. We were hoping for the Barn swallows return – they successfully fledged two broods of 4 babies, happy to nest over Rocks’s stable and were much better house guests than the doves, we have seen them briefly swooping around but not residing yet.

We did a really fun gin trail in Canterbury last June introducing us to little gems in the historic King’s Mile, we shall be looking out for it again this year. The L’Ambrette is now called A Cooks Tale  https://www.thecookstale.co.uk and has started hosting Bollywood nights, so we will be venturing into Canterbury nightlife. It is a restaurant run by a lovely local family and has been consistently excellent. We have continued to be members of Hush Heath Estate vineyard, home of the Balfour winery https://balfourwinery.comand had lovely musical suppers with gorgeous wines, with their 400 acres of wildflower meadows, orchards and vineyards to wander through and hope to join their grape picking day again this year.

We enjoyed another free Shakespeare performance by the Changeling Theatre Company at the Folkestone outdoor amphitheatre, https://changeling-theatre.com/venues/folkestone-amphitheatre overlooking the beach and sea. We shall go for it again. This year, it is Henry V and is on Sunday 11th August at 5.00pm

The deer have been having fun jumping into a tiny fenced off area in the horse’s field, we really cannot think why when they have a great field of grass to roam in – the horses are still not too sure of them but are still very fit and well as they approach their teens.

The gardens have been quite productive in vegetables, Lewana’s rhubarb won 1st prize in the local show again this year. We have planted a Czar and Damson plum orchard of 10 trees, surrounding them with daffodils, being inspired by last years holiday to our favourite place, Lower House Farm, Tenbury Wells, near Ludlow. It is a lovely farm B & B run by genial hosts Anne and Tom, where we just chill in the old-fashioned gardens with stupendous views, picking damsons for her delicious jam, bringing some home to replicate with great success.

We are keeping nice and busy with visitors but still found time to grape pick again last year, on five days, and wine provided. Chartham Vineyard  http://charthamvineyard.co.uk/ – really good fun with lots of lovely cake.

Unfortunately some of our local pubs, The George, The Timberbatts and The Chequers have now closed – but the local farm shops have expanded – Perry Court Farm, near Wye  https://www.perrycourt.farm now has a lovely spacious café with local produce; the Lord Whisky tearooms https://www.lordwhisky.co.uk  does too, and also supports the nearby animal sanctuary.

We hope to introduce more guests to the joys of country living again this year, with the benefits of the seaside just down the road.