Faversham: The Oare Gunpowder Works

One morning in Faversham, we met up with friends Tim, Emilie, and Lisa, had a lovely second breakfast, and then went for a walk in the woods.  First, though, second breakfast.

Charlie absolutely adores baby Lisa!
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This was the first time Tim and Emilie had seen Charlie and Flora since their visit in the USA in 2012.
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And, this was the first time the twins had ever met Baby Lisa!  So exciting.

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Charlie could not keep his hands off of Lisa.  It was pretty cute.
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After a delicious English Breakfast, we packed up some goodies from Macknade’s, and headed through town for our destination:  the Oare Gunpowder Works.

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Gunpowder is thought to have been made here as far back as the mid-sixteenth century.  It is said that the 36 barrels that Guy Fawkes was intending to use at the Houses of Parliament came from these gunpowder works.  Now, they are ruins with a museum and trails with interpretive signs here and there.  It is a beautiful, peaceful place.  A perfect place for an afternoon walk in the woods.

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And…cygnets!_DSC3021 - 2013-07-09 at 14-01-30

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And back to our lovely lodgings on Faversham Creek!
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Posted in Destinations, England, Visits | Leave a comment

Faversham: a Walk About Town

We spent a warm day in Faversham exploring the town and getting some exercise.  First:  the shops.

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Faversham is a market town, and the market is a fun, colorful, bustling experience.

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Heselden Hats and General Miscellany was a fun shop:  buttons, ribbons, hats, this-n-that.  Flora and I had fun browsing.

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The very famous Shepherd Neame brewery is located in Faversham.  We walked by several times, and since we were there on a Tuesday, malting day, the smells were amazing.

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There are lots of excellent pubs in Faversham!  Most of them, of course, are loyal to Shepherd Neame Brewery.

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Our favorite shop:  Macknade’s Fine Foods.

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Maple walnut flavoured coffee?

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Amazing cured meats!

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Boutique flours.

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Whitstable Pickle Co. pickles and chutneys.

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Faversham Creek

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There was also an excellent pond for feeding ducks.  

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Lots of charming Medieval buildings line the streets of this lovely town.

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Posted in Destinations, England, Food | Leave a comment

Faversham

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One of my kind friends who offered to take us in while we were visiting in the Whitstable/Canterbury area was Carolynne, a lovely and enthusiastic member of the Whitstable Choral Society.  She and I sat next to one another for a while in the fall of 2011, and became friends.  She and her partner, Colin, were so very kind to invite us to stay with them, so we stayed in their beautiful house in Faversham for 3 nights.

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The photos above are of the Guildhall in the market square.  Faversham is a lovely Medieval market town, with many historic buildings dating to the 15th or 16th centuries, and some even older.  There are also many Georgian buildings, and even a few that were part of a Benedictine Abbey that was founded in 1147.  But more importantly, Faversham is a charming, quaint, easy-going, accessible, and down-right pleasant town.

One of our favorite discoveries in town was Macknade Fine Foods.  We bought some cured meats here from the Weald Smokery that were absolutely out of this world.  Also delicious Spanish olives, Italian biscuits, and fresh berries.  It was the perfect picnic food…more on that in a later post.

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There were some fun and quirky shops in Faversham, too.

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And it was an excellent town for walking.  Many pedestrian-only streets, and well, humped zebra crossings here and there.

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There is a beautiful church:  the Parish Church of St. Mary.

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Parts of this church date back to the 12th century, with various additions and remodels throughout the centuries.  The crown spire wasn’t added until the 1790s.  It is the largest parish church in Kent.

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The interior was remarkably light-filled, unlike most of the Medieval parish churches we’ve seen.  This one was redone in 1755.
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The painting on this pillar dates back to 1306!

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Faversham also has a really wonderful town museum, and we were lucky enough to get our own private tour with Carolynne, who volunteers there.

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The kids’ favorite part of the museum was the big room with a working telephone exchange.  They could call other phones in the building and watch the machine work to connect the calls.

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After our museum visit, we strolled through town to Carolynne and Colin’s favorite pub for lunch.  Along the way, she pointed out some of the more significant houses and historical buildings.

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Then lunch at The Anchor.

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Then we had a poke around the boats in Faversham Creek.

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There are some lovely modern houses along the creek.  Carolynne and Colin live in one that has a pier behind their house, and they have a Westerly 31 tied up out back of the garden!

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What a fabulous town, and what a wonderful visit we had with our good friends.  Thanks, Carolynne and Colin!

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Posted in Destinations, England | Leave a comment

Summer at the Seaside

 

Did I happen to mention that it has been hot here in England this summer?

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How does one beat the heat in a country with very little air conditioning?

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You go to the beach.

 

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Even when at very low tide…

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And you eat ice cream on the shingle.

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Do a little sun bathing…

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Oops, Charlie fell and his poor leg was shredded by barnacles.

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But he got over it pretty quickly.

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Then you play in the sand while you wait for the tide to come in…

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…and then JUMP in the water!

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Then you go home, have a bath, and pass out from exhaustion.

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Posted in England, Twins, Whitstable | Leave a comment

Singing in the Cathedral — again!

When I booked tickets for this trip, I immediately contacted all of my friends in England. A few of those friends are members of the Whitstable Choral Society, with whom I sang for three concerts during the 2011-2012 season.  When I told them I was coming, two of them had this crazy idea:  maybe I could jump in at the last minute and sing in the July concert!  Well, I did.  And it was really fun!

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This was not a glamorous solo gig.  It wasn’t even a paying gig (something I’m increasingly interested in these days…), but it was REALLY fun.  I knew the music on a very basic level, and had one rehearsal and then a dress rehearsal on the morning of the concert to get an idea of what the conductor was doing with tempi, etc.  It was a thrill.  A thrill to be singing this beautiful music after only 2 rehearsals, a thrill to be in one of the grandest spaces in the Western world, and a thrill to be with my friends who warmly invited me to sing with them.

Thank you, Carolynne, Pat, Sally, and David.

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After the concert, we walked past the King’s School (founded by Henry VIII) to exit the precincts.

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Walking through this beautiful, quiet place, the final words of the Puccini mass were  strongly present in my mind:  Dona nobis pacem.

Posted in Canterbury, England, Music | Leave a comment

Splashing in the Sea

Since we left Dungeness and arrived in Whistable, the weather has been phenomenal.  Hot, sunny, breezy, amazing.  (Sometimes too hot!)  One of these hot days was begging for a visit to the beach, so we headed to our favorite spot among the groynes and claimed a bit of beach. Warning:  many gratuitous photos of children exuding glee.
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Charlie cannot stop climbing.  Must get him hiking!
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The kids donned their swimming suits and we prepared to let them splash in the surf (this always makes me nervous, so I have to try very hard not to constantly run after them…).

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Running back and forth in the shallow water was pretty much the best thing ever.

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And again with the climbing.  He’s a monkey!
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This is a great action series — watch Charlie.
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After wearing themselves out, lounging on daddy and having a bit of lunch seemed like a good idea.
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Then, a walk along the beach to the harbor.
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A visit to the shops…
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A little ice cream…
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A stroll through the harbour…
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Sweet owls in one of the harbour shops!  This is the same pattern we used to make Christmas owls when Mary Jeanne came to Whitstable for a visit.
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Fun windows on Harbour Street.
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After all that excitement, a snooze…

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Posted in England, Twins, Whitstable | Leave a comment

Reunions

The main reason we decided to return to Whitstable only a year after our departure was to see people we’d grown so fond of, and to keep those friendships kindled.  Our reunions with the people we know and love in this small corner of the world have made us realize that we absolutely made the right decision to come.  The kids remembered things and people, so could get excited about places and faces.  We were so happy to see those that made us feel welcome here during our year-long stay.

For our first night back in Whitstable, our lovely friend Christina invited us to her house for dinner.  She cooked us a feast!  Various fruits, juices, cocktails, and crunchy bits for appetizers, a pasta course, and delicious organic roast chicken!  It was divine.  We enjoyed a sunny afternoon and evening in the garden with Christina, her husband, her gorgeous daughters, Aoife and Orla, and then Cassie and her husband came to join us as well!  A very memorable evening.

Charlie and Flora had so much fun playing with Aoife and Orla.  They rode bicycles around and around the garden for ages, and then Flora and Aoife played dress-up.
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Did I mention cocktails???  Forever more, when Christina and I get together, there will be Prosecco and Chambord cocktails.  Delish!
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The kids table.
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Cheers!
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Dress up time!
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They played this game where they would marry each other and act-out the wedding(s).  Pretty darn cute.
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Nothing much cuter than sweet little English girls in summer dresses and hats.  Sigh.

The next very significant reunion: meeting baby Lisa!  Wonderful friends Tim and Emilie were expecting when we saw them last, at our house in Washington State!  They have been through a lot with their adorable little girl, and though we had “met” Lisa via Skype, we were very eager to get our hands on her!  She did not disappoint.  A cuddly, coo-ey, sweet, delicious bundle.  We met up for a concert by Caritas Chamber Choir, the group I sang with during the spring before we left England (friend Tim still sings with them).  We passed some time before the concert at Brown’s Coffee House, which has become a favorite spot in Canterbury.  What a happy baby!

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St. Peter’s Church, where the concert was held.  This is where I rehearsed with the group when I was singing with them.  Wonderful little church!

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Couldn’t believe how well Lisa did during the concert!  Aside from a few small coos, she was very quiet and content!
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The next reunion:  our lovely friends from Hey Diddle Music class.

The kids’ wonderful teacher, Anita, is one of those souls who seems to be doing exactly what they were made to do.  She is wonderful, and so good at engaging the children (of many ages!).  We miss her.

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We attended this class twice while we were in town, and after the first class, we had a picnic lunch with friends Stanley and Peter.  (Later that week, we had a lovely afternoon at their house in Whitstable, but that’s for another post.)  The kids were SO excited to see Stanley!  He had grown and it was fun to see him look a little older, and a lot more talkative.

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After lunch, the kids had a lot of fun throwing things into the sea.
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There have been other reunions as well.

I reconnected with two yoga teachers, one of whom I consider a mentor and a deeply significant presence in my life.  It was a very meaningful reunion, and one that will continue to affect me in the coming months.

Brad had a very productive meeting at the University of Kent with his colleague, Sally, with whom he worked during our year here.

I was happy to jump in at the last minute to join my Whitstable Choral Society friends in a concert of Mozart and Puccini at Canterbury Cathedral. (There will be a post on this event as well…)

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And there are reunions to come.  We will see some of our London-based friends this week.

We are SO wonderfully rich in friends.

Posted in Canterbury, England, Visits, Whitstable | 2 Comments