Friday, August 9, 2019

Day Trip from London

I figure the best way to entice my husband on a day trip from London is to mention “bike ride and beer” while really, I’m gunning for gardens and farm shops in the countryside.

During June, both of us were working a lot, so on the weekends, I tried to plan activities that would get us out of the city. On a return trip to the annual CAMRA Real Ale and Cider Festival in Tenterden, I picked up a flyer for visiting private gardens in Kent through the National Garden Scheme. I’d never heard of this project, but since I love gardens, it piqued my interest.

I love visiting the Kent region as it’s one of the easiest for us to reach by train from London and because it’s so green. Kent is nicknamed the “Garden of England” because it has so many gardens, orchards and old hop gardens.

Apparently, UK’s NGS coordinates with towns, private garden owners and manor house owners to open up their gardens to the public during a certain time period. The annual project gives access to more than 3,500 private gardens in England and Wales and raises money for nursing and health charities through the admissions fees and selling of teas and cake. You can check on the NGS website for open gardens as many are still hosting this project from now until the autumn months.

Farmer’s Market Stop
So, we started off our Sunday adventure by taking a train from Victoria Station in London to Ashford and from there we cycled about 4.5 miles to Perry Court Farm, a family-owned farm shop just outside of Wye. We had a look around the lovely produce and then had cake and coffee outside at the farm’s café. Surprisingly, I have no photographic evidence of said cake, but I can tell you that the Victoria Sponge was delicious.
We continued cycling into the village of Wye and stopped at the 15th-century St. Gregory and St. Martin Church to buy our garden tickets and map for £5 each. The tickets gave us access to six or seven different gardens in and around the village of Wye. We had our bikes so it was easy to ride from one garden to the next.
Gardens Galore in Wye
We started at the home of Steve Bloom, and his wife, a UK-based wildlife photographer. What made this garden stop so interesting is that some of Bloom’s wildlife photos were displayed outside, peeking out from the greenery and flowers. His wildlife images were amazing!
The other private gardens in Wye featured a wide array of roses, foxglove, delphiniums, hollyhocks, lavender, lupines, peonies, fruit trees, vegetables and many flowers that I don’t even know the names of. Plus, all the garden owners were always on hand to have a chat and answer any questions. As I’ve said before, the English people LOVE their gardens!

Beer Break
After a few hours of cycling and viewing gardens, we stopped for a beer break at the Tickled Trout, a charming village pub with a large beer garden overlooking the Great Stour River.

A Country Garden in Wye
We ended our garden tour at the Spring Grove Farm House, a large country garden filled with lots of colorful flowers and a small pond.

And More Beer
Finally, we cycled back to Ashford station and stopped at the newest brewery in Kent called Curious Brewery. This brewery, started by the English winemaker Chapel Down, opened in May and features a huge two-story building where you can taste and drink a few pints and even do a brewery tour. We had hoped to dine here, but unfortunately, the restaurant stops serving food at 5 p.m. on Sundays. Oh well! We sampled some of the brewery’s ales instead.
If you’re looking for a day out of London, there’s plenty to do and see around the village of Wye, which once was a historic market town that was settled as early as the Roman period.


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Alan said...

Good morning Joy! What a lovely reminder of my home county - We used to walk a lot around the Wye Downs and the Tickled Trout was pretty much always our finish point for the walks and the starting point for a few good pints of bitter. Next time you go down that way seek out Janet and my favourite beer from the oldest family owned brewers in the UK, Shepherd Neame. A pint of Shep's probably the most heavily hopped ale you will ever taste and you will need a couple to get your taste-buds in line! When we visit the UK a decent pint (not that lager rubbish) is our very first priority.