Jun 18

RSPB Minsmere & Aldeburgh, Suffolk

The sun has been shining for a good few weeks now, so we thought it would be a great idea to get up super early, and head up North to Suffolk for a day trip. RSPB Minsmere was our destination, with 7 different hides, located right on the coast.

We arrived in Suffolk without any trouble, and headed straight for the reserve. We were greeted nicely by the RSPB volunteers, and headed straight in to catch some wildlife action. Right out of the gate, we were treated to some lovely little sand Martins, all flying in and out of their little homes, inside the sandy wall, and some rabbits.

A pair of Sand Martins

A bunny!

The reserve is quite big, with a couple of big fresh water lagoons in the middle, and the big circular loop that goes around the lagoons takes you over towards the sea. So we decided to do the loop, and stop over at the hides. It’s a very pretty reserve, I must say – we had a lovely time walking through in the sun and the tall grass. Once we reached the coast, we continued on down, spotting the Artic Tern out at sea, before heading back in to one of the various hides.

Artic Tern

A couple of Black-tailed Godwits

The first for us was spotting a lovely Avocet – I’d never heard of them before (Gina had, probably), but there was a very knowledgeable chap in the hide we were in, making a massive fuss over the Avocet that was out in the lagoon.

Avocet (black & white)

Gina on the coastal path

After we continued around the loop, we were both pretty hungry. As Gina was armed with her Lonely Planet book, we decided to head into Aldebrugh for lunch – what a beautiful little place! The village was full of very colourful little houses, right on the coast, with some nice little shops. We had a nice seafood lunch at one the little restaurants that the Tripadvisor recommended for us, followed by a home made ice cream, and a walk along the sea front.

All in all, a lovely little Saturday outing!

Nov 17

Ightham Mote

After a delicious breakfast of hearty pancakes & coffee we looked out the window and noticed how delightfully sunny it was outside! It looked like a fresh, autumn/verge of winter kind of morning – and so we decided it would be lovely to head out for a Sunday morning drive to one of the very few South Eastern National Trust sites we’ve not visited yet – Ightham Mote!

We jumped into Terell, and cruised on down to the notorious Sevenoaks, Kent – here’s what Wiki has to say about it:

Ightham Mote (pronounced “item moat”), is a medieval moated manor house. The architectural writer John Newman describes it as “the most complete small medieval manor house in the county.” The house is a Grade I listed building, and parts of it are a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Ightham Mote

Ightham Mote – Classic View

The manor house is really pretty, and has a great moat around it – we got there just in time, as the free introduction talk was just about to begin – here we learned a but about the history of the house, and all about the many paintings John Singer Sargent did of the manor, and how currently on exhibition is a 100 year old portrait of the “Young Lady in White” which was also painted in the manor. Great!

We then cruised around the front garden for a bit – admiring the lovely small garden at the front, and the other surrounding buildings, before heading inside.

Gina & the Front Garden

Note Gina’s beautiful scarf

Christmas time is coming up, so the rooms (which were open) were decorated for Christmas – which included several Christmas trees, and a small train set on the main dining table. We headed upstairs to see the exhibition on the “Young Lady in White” which was quite impressive. From there we continued through the hallways, and down into the library downstairs, and out into the court yard, where they had a 3-storey high bird house, and a dog kennel that could fit up to 10 Ginas.

Christmas at the Great Hall

Gina chillin’ at the Courtyard

From there, we continued around the moat, where we were treated a lovely view of the manor, and a few benches, where Gina posed nicely with her brand new, freshly finished scarf.

Ightham Mote

A nice spot to chill

We did a small walk around the grounds, before heading on back to London (via Ikea) – for a 6pm Deliveroo. Great Sunday!

Apr 17


Sunny Sunday, so we decided to make it another NT day, this time the Knole house. Supes crowded but pretty.

Knole house a remarkably preserved and complete early Jacobean remodelling of a medieval archiepiscopal palace. From an even older manor house, it was built and extended by the Archbishops of Canterbury after 1456. It then became a royal possession during the Tudor dynasty when Henry VIII hunted here and Elizabeth I visited. From 1603, Thomas Sackville made it the aristocratic treasure house for the Sackville family, who were prominent and influential in court circles.

Knole’s main entrance

Inner lawn yard

Iest at Knole

Cool gatehouse tower, containing the private rooms of last inhabitant Edward Sackville-West, 5th Baron Sackville. Known to his friends as Eddy, he was a novelist and music critic who lived in the Gatehouse Tower at Knole between 1926 and 1940. Eddy was passionate about art, music and literature and was regularly visited by artists and literary figures of the Bloomsbury Group, including novelist Virginia Woolf and the painter Duncan Grant, as well as his famous cousin Vita Sackville-West, the gardener and poet.

And also, Eddy was my kind of man:

Eddy’s style

We also headed out for the ‘Seven oaks walk’ around Knole park in the blazing sun – a 5km woodland walk, we got to see all of the Knole land, together with deer and all!

Deers on the grounds

Gina getting some sun

Feb 17

Scotney Castle

In the week, Gina found a rather picturesque looking castle on National Trust’s ‘gram account. We found out that the castle wasn’t too far from us here in London – a mere hour and a half drive to the South East. Perfect! A road trip for Sunday was set in place.

We arrived at Scotney Castle just before 11am – the weather wasn’t too great; grey and damp – so the first thing we did was get an inside tour of the ‘new’ Scotney castle. It was quite fascinating, the owner had been living in the house until 2006 – so there was a mish-mash of possessions in the house. It was agreed with the owners that the castle, house and grounds would all go over to the NT upon the death of the last resident, so I guess she didn’t want to upgrade the house too much, as it contained relics of the past, some very old furniture and antiques [Gina: yeah, i’m sure that’s the reason why she didn’t ‘upgrade’ her antiques; like if NT was not waiting for it, it would have been all hygge by now, candles and yoghurt and moose rugs in front of the fireplaces] . She was living among these objects, with just, from what I could see, a TV and radio from the latter half of the 20th century as the newest objects in the house. It was really interesting. [Yeah but the TV did have netflix on it, so there’s that. Plus, she was not living among ‘objects’, she had like ten cats.]

Scotney Castle

Scotney Castle

The grounds and garden of the house were amazing. Just down from the ‘new’ castle was a quarry – which was closed (due to frost), which had been turned to a garden, with loads of snowdrops inside it, and just further down was the old original castle that dates back to around the 1500’s – surrounded by a moat. We had a good look around, and walked around the moat before heading back to the NT’s reception area.

Gina at the moat

Then we decided it would be great time to head out see what we could be get for food, we had pub-lunch on our minds, and thanks to some Trip Advising on the matter, we ended up at The Chequers pub, down in Lamberhurst – which supplied us with some awesome Sunday roast, and veg lasagne for Gins.

Afterwards, as the day was grey ‘n wet, we decided it would be best to head on back home to chill – so we did just that.

Jan 17

Stonehenge & Salisbury

Freezing cold and dreary January with nothing to look forward to until like Easter or so. Iest decided he wanted to go take pictures of Stonehenge in the frost; as an NT member with free access I was of course in. Because Stonehenge is so touristy we wanted to get there as early as possible, and set our Sunday alarm for six o’clock. This allowed us to be impatiently waiting for the ticket box to open before half nine, and to be on the first shuttle over (the place has been redone since I last was there – parking and visitors’ centre is now removed from the site, and one has to take a shuttle bus to get there).
Thus we were literally the first visitors of the day, seeing Stonehenge in a glorious winter hazy sunrise and indeed the frost. It was quite atmospheric for a while there, keeping in mind that it’s still just a bunch of old rocks. Iest got all misty eyed over his heritage for a minute.



The longer we spent, the more people poured in, with their selfie sticks and duck faces, so eventually we decided we’ve had enough and took the shuttle back to Terrell. It was still before noon, that’s how much of early birds we were. Since it was nice and sunny (although not much warmer), we decided to continue our trip to have some lunch and see the great Salisbury cathedral with its copy of the Magna Carta.

Salisbury Cathedral

Magna Carta tent

Salisbury welcomed us with some nice zizzi-chain pizzas and a historical centre. The cathedral, one of the leading examples of early English architecture from the 13th century and boasting the tallest church spire in the UK (123m), is truly magnificent. We saw the Magna Carta, the nicest of the remaining originals, and had a good chat about it with one of its guardians. The nearby Mompesson house, a National Trust treasure, was closed for visitors, so we only got to see its pretty outsides. Instead, we drove over to Pepperbox Hill, topped by an early example of a brick folly, with far-reaching views and rich cultural heritage. Altogether a nice day out.

Peppebox \hill

Oct 16

Richmond Park

With autumn casually creeping in, we decided it would be great fun to pop over to Richmond Park for the afternoon, a chance for us to look at some greenery, and hopefully catch a few stags/deer and some wildlife that the Park has to offer.

After a nice drive west, we arrived at Richmond Park, and headed straight over towards the ‘Isabella plantation’ that’s located in the middle of the park. The plantation offered a couple of nice ponds, where a large number of ducks were playing – and thanks to Gina’s awesome ‘Bird book’, we (well – Gina) was able to name the ducks. Much to our surprise, we spotted a Mandarin duck! This is what the RSPB has to say on them:

The male has the most elaborate and ornate plumage with distinctive long orange feathers on the side of the face, orange ‘sails’ on the back, and pale orange flanks. The female is dull by comparison with a grey head and white stripe behind the eye, brown back and mottled flanks. They were introduced to the UK from China and have become established following escapes from captivity.

Mandarin Duck

From here, we headed over to the big open plains where we spotted our first deer causally chilling behind a tree. We decided to continue walking in, where we stumbled upon another – a Stag that was chilling in the tall grass with it’s antlers poking out of the grass. We spent a bit of time with him, getting all the photos we could:


We did a nice casual loop around the ‘main’ field, and started heading back towards Terell. We were getting hungry at this point, so we decided to drop into Richmond Town, which itself is also a very pretty, nice little town! A stroll down the high street proved fruitful – both in terms of food (pizza!), and a couple of comics for me :D

Sep 16

Botany Bay

It was so so hot in September (it seems so long ago now, writing this in December, because I’m like the only one wo cares to update this blog, and even I don’t care so much. But I care enough to do the posts in order and not to cherry-pick whatever I want to do and skip the old ones!), that I wanted to go to one of the beaches on Sunday. But Iest pointed out that going to the beach on a Sunday like this will be a terrible experience full of people so much, as the whole of London will have the same idea. This was a good point. You can look up google images of beaches and they look so pretty and serene, but you go there on a hot Sunday and it’s just terrible. So, one of us had the genius idea (and it was probably me, tho it’s been a long time and I don’t really remember) to just take a day off during the week, and go on a Wednesday. Genius! We decided to go to the Botany Bay, and it was just magical. Just a few people, not too many. Blazing sun. Warm waters. On the way there I even got a nice little net to scoop up critters. White cliffs. Warm send between the toes. And on the way back we even had a lovely dinner in Canterbury. Best. Wednesday. Ever.

Botany Bay