Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Our Kent Holiday–Day 10: Walmer Castle

We've had a real adventure today, our last day. As I thought last night, my hubby had decided to go to Walmer Castle today, the home of the Wardens of the Cinque Ports, and it was a very, very good choice for our final day. On the way, we visited a windmill at Deal:

07 Deal Mill

and had lunch in a lovely country pub in a village with the delightful name of Ripple. We then went on to Walmer, a beautiful quadrifoil Tudor castle with a lot of emphasis on the Duke of Wellington - you can even see a pair of his original "wellies" there! The gardens are simply magnificent.

47 The Moat

Here's one of me on the bridge leading into the castle:

67a Me on Bridge - N 

There's a special walled garden, "The Garden of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother" and I bought a postcard showing her sitting in it. Lovely. When we went in, I could just imagine how she must have loved it. It was a very beautiful, peaceful place with lovely proportions, and well-planted. There were also some stone urns planted with flowers, including heather, to remind Her Majesty of her Scottish home.

52 Seat in Queen Mother's Garden

Up the middle is a rectangular pond, at the top of which is a sort of pavilion.

59b Me in Queen Mother's Garden - N 

There were goldfish in the pond, and some water lilies. As you can see, it was a nice sunny day and everything looked lovely as a result.

There is an avenue of extraordinary "sculpted" yew hedges which we found fascinating:

69 Looking Back between Sculpted Yew Hedges 

This is the gate out of the garden:

81 Iron Gate 

On our way there, we took a particular route from our B & B which we'd taken a few times before, and each time we were very intrigued by a modern building which seemed to be in process of construction, behind a waterworks building, and we thought perhaps it was new headquarters being built or something - the waterworks building was a typical 1930s red brick edifice. This morning we stopped in a layby and photographed it from the road:

01 The Lime Works

(this was taken with the zoom so it's really quite a bit further away) and my hubby said, "Let's go up and see what it's all about." We drove past the red brick building and found a locked gate and a "beware of the dog" sign which didn't look too hopeful, and a large Alsatian dog came up barking, and then a man appeared, and came down. We got out and smiled at him, and said how intrigued we were etc. He said it was a private house that he and his partner were renovating. His partner was out, but would be back later if we wanted to call in on our return, which we said we would.

He told us that it was a water treatment plant which had fallen into disrepair, and after a lot of battles with the planners they were allowed to do it up - now the planners are asking permission to send people to see it because it shows what can be done with derelict buildings in Kent!!!

We got back there at about 5.30, and they were both there, and they invited us to drive up. It is still a bit of a building site, but the windows are in, and they are making very good progress. The partner said "Come in and I'll show you around." Of course, it was all totally unsuitable for the Rolls Royce so I went round this 5-storey huge house on my crutches - quite an ordeal but more than made up for by the sheer beauty and wonder of it all. My hubby and I both adore Art Deco and this place certainly didn't disappoint - it was like an ocean liner: white, clean lines, lots of curves and fabulous shapes and shadows which changed wherever you moved. There was a vast full-height atrium between what had originally been two cylindrical water tanks, and they've left various bits of its industrial past which added character. Vast areas of glass, spiral staircases, ciruclar rooms... They already had certain items of furniture in, which you can imagine were very stylish and totally in keeping with the place. When it is finished it will have absolutely the last word in mod-cons, with a library, cinema, gym, sauna, jacuzzi, roof garden, and --- wait for it --- a roof-top swimming pool! It was absolutely to die for, a real fantasy dream house!

They asked us not to photograph anything, because it was their private house, which we respected, of course; the photos we did take were before we went up the drive, and which we took from the road, which is open to anyone to view. They were so generous in sharing it with us. We felt extremely privileged that they had agreed to show us round, when we had simply turned up as total strangers who expressed an interest. They said do come back when it's finished! I think I should faint away with the beauty of it - it was amazing enough in its present state!

This was an unexpected bonus at the end of our holiday and I'm still reeling from the incredibleness of it.
The trouble is, of course, after all that traipsing around and up and down goodness knows how many stairs, I am suffering from it big time now, and my arms were really bad when we first got back after all that crutch walking, but they seem better now, but boy it was worth it! I'd do it all again five minutes from now if we were invited, even if it put me in bed for a year!

Well, that's it for our hols for another year, unless we stop and get any photos tomorrow. I hope you've enjoyed sharing our hols with us - it's been tremendous fun for me doing this each day, and so lovely to have Nilly and E's input too! What a truly wonderful holiday it's been. For anyone reading this who lives in or near Kent, you live in a beautiful part of the world and it's been marvellous experiencing it.

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