Friday, September 16, 2016


September 10, 2016

This is our home away from home for our week in Brighton Beach. It's called the pool house because originally an above ground pool sat on the location. Karen is a delight and has spoiled us with many extras, especially all that we need for English Breakfasts in the mornings. We're enjoying a day off today and listening to the rain while we play some cards and catch up on details.

Our outing today was a drive through downtown Brighton Beach. The first thing we saw was a huge and very tall pole. Turns out it is the newest adventure and has just opened according to the article we found after returning home. We plan to ride it before we leave. Also the palace that was built in the eighteenth century was modeled after palaces in India. It is called the Brighton Pavilion now. Built by members of the royal family. It was used as a hospital for soldiers from India during WW II. Another of our planned tours for next week. We've enjoyed most of the day resting and catching up on planning. It's been raining since 3 o’clock.

September 11, 2016
Sunday morning began with 9:30 am mass at St Joseph’s church downtown. We managed to drive 3 blocks driving the wrong way on a single lane road.
Then we moved the car to a parking garage across the street from the British Airways i360 ride on the beach. Due to excess wind yesterday they'd been loading and unloading on the lower level...that's why we thought it was unfinished as we only saw the pole. A fabulous run up and down...much like the London Eye.
Once down we walked to the Brighton Pier and out to the fun zone. Very hot day but still fun.
From there we walked to the Royal Pavilion and did the tour of the old royal palace....but, no photos allowed. Extremely ornate but unusual in that it is done in India and Chinese decor.
Walked back to the car through twisting narrow walking streets full of shops but shady so was really good. A four mile day of walking.
Home by 3 pm and over to our neighborhood pub for a Sunday Roast. Delicious. ... a great Sunday.

September 12, 2016

Today was full of surprises. ... the Lewes Castle was so much more than we'd expected. It was recommended by the bartender at our pub. Thomas Paine lived in Lewes for a few years and Ann of Cleves owned property there resulting from her divorce settlement from Henry VIII. A fun hour visiting the town and climbing up and down some 250 steps in the castle after walking down and up a very steep street in the village.
Drove an hour from there to visit a National Trust property that we found in the book last night. Petworth House and Gardens. WOW... we were amazed by what we saw. The home was elegant and for over 900 years the occupants had collected a major art collection equaling any of your major museums in the world. More Turner paintings then we've seen in any museum. Van Dyck, Gainborough and a myriad of other old masters.
Difficult to leave but we did also enjoy the extensive servants quarters and kitchens in a separate building.
Home by 4 pm and Chef Jim is preparing pasta for us tonight. Another day filled with beautiful sunshine.
September 13, 2016
Took a late start but still had heavy traffic most of the way westward to the famous Historic Dockyard of Portsmouth. Took a wrong of many over the last five weeks, and saw the WWII memorial and the very new attraction called the Spinnaker Tower....similar to the i360 in Brighton Beach. It is 500 ft. tall and you can go up to enjoy the view. Snapped photos and went on to the dockyards.
Amazing, several very old ships and work in progress in the actual boathouse that we toured. The tent for a restaurant came in handy as we had a sudden five minute rainstorm that didn't cool us down but added a chance to sit for a few minutes.
Back on the highway we drove about half way back and stopped in Arundel to see the Castle that has been home to the Duke of Norfolk family for 900 years. This is the top Duke of all the Dukes according to our travel guide book by Rick Steves.  It is absolutely huge and per Mr. Jim has the very best art collection of old masters that we've seen.  But not as many of the Turner paintings that we saw yesterday.  One could easily do a whole day here.
This is their personal home and they have taken great pride in sharing their history with visitors. Many of the gardens and fields are open for residents and visitors to enjoy at any time. A few are reserved for the paying guests. If you are in the area this should be number one on your list. And it is privately run by the family and not part of any trust. It's literally a museum of their family history.
We ended the day in the village of Arundel, shopped in an Old Maps shop and enjoyed fish and chips for an early dinner at the Moat house Cafe.
Resulted in heavy traffic on the trip home but we relaxed and enjoyed the extra time together.

September 14, 2016

Our morning started with finding the laundromat which turned out to be across the street from the church that we attended last Sunday. Had we realized that, we would not have taken so many wrong turns. Then there was parking. Nothing legal was open and there were many cars parked illegally up on the sidewalk;  so we joined them temporarily. Jim watched the car while I loaded the washing machines. He left to look for a legal spot and the policemen was writing our ticket when he returned. He played innocent and sweet and we didn't get a ticket like everyone else was getting. He quickly moved the car to the new spot that he'd found!
After returning the laundry home, we headed east to find Monk's House. This was the home of the writer Virginia Woolf. Originally their weekend home but after their London home was bombed in the blitz they lived here permanently. Beautiful gardens and her writing hut in the garden was just what every writer needs. Jim was very happy.
As we finished we were told about her sisters home about eight miles away. It is called Charleston Farm. Her sister was Vanasa Bell, she along with Duncan Grant were pioneers of early 20th century British Art. They created the Bloomsbury period of art. Short lived but unique. They lived together with other notable artists and famous people from 1916 in this farmhouse. T.S. Elliot is one of the better known writers who spent time here along with Virginia Woolf.

September 15, 2016
We were packed and ready to leave Brighton Beach by 9 o'clock this morning. It took us nearly 2 hours to drive to the very old village of Rye that sits on the English Channel just east of Hastings. We visited the Mermaid Hotel that is very old. It was rebuilt in 1420 after the original one burnt down. I stayed there in 2010 when I visited with my sister-in-law.
We walked many of the streets, visited two different churches and the Castle. Before we left we even went to the weekly market which was in full swing while we were there today. It was a fun filled two hours.
Back in the car we headed north to our second destination called Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens. Originally a great Elizabethan home that eventually was rented to the government in the 18th century to imprison French sailors.
Early in the 20th century the ruins were purchased for a song by a wealthy English family. There was only one room in the tower that was livable and they basically camped there when visiting during the reconstruction.
Today it is famous for its gardens and fairytale towers. Vita Sackville-West wrote many books in her towers and there are tales about what happened during the many visits of her very close friend Virginia Woolf.
Back on the highway we made some wrong turns and GPS was not working well. It took us on a serendipity trip down country lanes to our new home on the grounds of Leeds Castle in the lush landscape of Kent. We had several brushes with the hedge rows but finally arrived. Our place for the next seven nights is a bit magical. See the second story I just posted.
Our day wasn't over....we moved in and then left to buy groceries. Lost again and the ten minute drive lasted three times longer but like always we eventually found a wonderful large supermarket when we stocked up for the week. And, we found the short way to home.
The rain is coming tonight and all day tomorrow so we're taking a day off. May walk over to see the Castle in the late afternoon....we have passes for the week so we can go every day!

This is our last week and we are settled in to our cottage on the grounds of Leeds Castle near Maidstone. We are in a private area and have a duck pond outside our door. The building is actually several hundred years old but has recently been completely modernized inside. We even have the code to a private gate to enter the grounds 24 hours a day. We feel like royalty. We also have passes that allows us to visit the castle as often as we like during out week long stay.

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