Yesterday – my last full day in the UK – was another good day in spite of some stresses. I had decided to wait until Hever Castle opened, intending to then call them to see if I could bring my luggage with me and leave it somewhere. Fortunately, the man I was meeting there – Dan Taylor – knew someone and was able to arrange just that.
Breakfast at the Greyhound Inn was very nice but honestly I need to stop eating eggs for quite a long while now. After packing up I set out on foot to the castle. When I got to Hever village, I found that along with the “Henry VIII” pub there is a B&B right there. I wish I had discovered that when I was booking as it would have been even more convenient.
The castle itself annoyingly did not open on time, but as the grounds were open I took the time to tour the Italianate gardens, which are lovely, with stone walls, ancient statuary (they should be in a museum!), flowers and bushes. It was easy to imagine a fancy dress party taking place there. It even had a loggia at the edge of the lake – a pretty large semi-circular stone area projecting out into the lake with a big fountain at its back, and stairs descending to either side of the fountain. Fancy!
And not surprising once I learned that the house was bought up by ultra-rich William Astor, who restored it. The house was at its greatest importance during the life of Anne Boleyn, then declined and was nearly a ruin at the turn of the 20th century. It was an absolutely sumptuous and interesting place to visit with many 16th century portraits and artifacts.
Then I met Dan Taylor at the Kent & Sharpshooters Yeomanry Museum. By that point I’d already looked at the early history part so we could concentrate on the period from about 1920 onwards, and then we went to the cafe for a tea and coffee. Dan had brought with him two enormous photo albums full of fascinating glimpses into the unit’s history during WW2. Unfortunately there was only time to look at one of them, and then it was time to head off.
Getting to my airport hotel had a couple of hiccups but I wasn’t worried because I had a lot of time to get there. It was only at this point that I discovered that there is a much more direct route, a bus apparently run by Southern Railway, but not from a stop on the line I had arrived on. Apparently the nearby town of Edenbridge has two stations which do not connect. If I had taken a taxi there and then the bus, it would have greatly reduced my travel time.
Still, I got there, and while my airport hotel was a bit dingy, it was fine, and since my flight was at 11 and I checked in the night before, I had an unhurried morning and got to the plane without any troubles. We then had to sit on the terminal for half an hour – ah! I know why! It was because I didn’t really want to leave, and I was holding the plane back!
Goodbye, UK, hope to see you again soon.