George and I were transported back in time this weekend. We woke up this morning in "The George Hotel" in Cranbrook (First recordings of the The George Inn, as it was known, were made in 1300!) This hotel played a role in the broadcloth industry (fine, smooth woollen cloth) of which Cranbrook became the manufacturing capital. We noticed the hooks on thick wooden beams which were used to hang the broadcloth while we were having dinner in the Brasserie the previous evening. While walking up the staircase to our room, I realised that I was walking in the footsteps (literally) of Queen Elizabeth I as she stayed there during her visit in 1573. http://www.thegeorgehotelkent.co.uk/
My favourite spot was sitting at the fireplace in the reception / bar / lounge area. We warmed ourselves there before dinner after an afternoon walk through the town's medieval streets. While walking, we couldn't miss the Union Mill - the tallest smock mill in England. It was built in 1814 to make bread for the French prisoner's-of-war held at Sissinghurst Castle. Interestlingly, Cranbrook means, "the brook visited by Cranes or Herons." http://www.cranbrook.org.uk/
After a scrumptious breakfast we left Cranbrook (with a promise to return in future) and continued our "back in time" adventure by visiting Bodiam Castle. I was so excited when we arrived, as this castle, built in 1385, is a wonderful example of a medieval moated castle. It was such fun exploring the inside and imagining what it must have been like to live there. What I found most fascinating was that one can still see the markings inscribed on the stones used to build the castle that were made by the masons as proof of their workmanship in order to get paid.
We used the opportunity of this visit to join The National Trust. The National Trust maintains and protects special places of historical interest, houses and gardens throughout England, Wales and Ireland. It also protects farmlands, forests, archaeological remains, castles, beaches etc. A quick read through the material in our "Welcome Pack" makes me feel that we have a wonderful year of discovery ahead. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
We made use of our membership straight away (one of the benefits is free entry to places for the year) by visiting the Sissinghurst Castle Estate, known for its beautiful gardens. I smiled to myself when walking through the manicured hedges. I was thinking of you, Dad, and how you just "loved" cutting the hedge at our home in Willett Place and how time consuming it was. Mom, we will have to book a garden tour with the Head Gardener when you visit as I am sure that you will enjoy every step along the garden paths. I can't wait to return to see the transformation of the gardens from Spring to Summer...and then again in Autumn. The gardens are still "in bud" so one can only imagine what they will look like in a month or two's time.
Driving through Kent on the way home, I kept saying, "Oh...this is so beautiful" - I don't know what other words to describe the countryside, little lanes, quaint homes and pretty gardens filled with bright yellow daffodils.
Well, we are back in the present...our bags have been unpacked, a shirt ironed and lunches made for work tomorrow. We even fitted in a gym session before settling down for the evening.
Tonight I will be going to sleep knowing that we have added another memorable adventure to our memory collection.