Friday, June 5, 2009

A Week in the Country

I was a bit nervous about catching the right train in order to get to my B&B in Kent and even more nervous about the prospect of transporting my heavy luggage on the tube and to the train. The only drawback of the London Underground is the existence of too many steps in some stations instead of elevators or escalators. With the weight of my suitcase, four steps seemed too many!
I struggled through and even enjoyed the hour-long train ride south to Kent. Thankfully, there was a taxi kiosk just up the street from the Edenbridge Train Station. My taxi would be a while, so the manager offered to watch my luggage while I go into town to have lunch and walk around to kill time. Edenbridge, like the other little hamlets around Kent, was steeped in traditional Tudor design and charm. Every other building was in the Tudor style with trademark black and white woodwork. I know I looked like a nutter taking photos of random old buildings that the locals totally take for granted every day. I could completely imagine myself there hundreds of years ago - no cars, taxis, skateboarders - walking on cobblestones or even dirt paths.

Pulling up the long drive to Starborough Manor was like a dream. It was all far more lovely than the photos on the Internet. Granted, the gardens were not fully in bloom, but the it was still lush and green just like I imagined. Jonathan Mathias, the proprietor of the B&B, showed me in and carried my heavy suitcase up the three flights to my room. The house was stunningly beautiful. But it was gorgeous in a comfortable way - not like a museum where you'd be afraid to sit or relax. My room was far more charming than it looked online. The views from my windows were so pastoral and idyllic; I couldn't have asked for a more perfect place to experience the English countryside. To the southeast, my window overlooked the backyard and Starborough Castle with it's moat.

And to the north, my bedroom and bathroom windows overlooked the Coach and Stable Houses, garden and adjoining farms.

As long as I live, I will never forget the cooing sounds from the large flight of doves that gathered every day on the roof of the barn in the back of the stables. I loved to look out and see the rose vines climbing up the brick walls of the Couch House. Even on the cloudy, rainy days, I would sit and look out the windows and feel so calm and at peace.
Jonathan offered to book me a taxi for dinner that evening at eight and left me to sleep. I sank easily into the bright white sheets and feather duvet and fell into a deep restful sleep in my beautiful new room.

When I awoke, I had a nice cup of tea in my room and took a shower. This was to be the only disappointment of this leg of my trip: low pressure shower head. Not good. So I resigned myself that I would take baths for the rest of my stay. As Winston Churchill said, "Why stand when you can sit?"
I dressed comfortably and went downstairs to meet my taxi which would take me just up the road to a pub called The Plough. I panicked slightly when we pulled up and I saw groups of good looking people gathered and drinking outside. I kept my head down and went straight in feeling a little shy.
I ate dinner and had a couple of glasses of wine and couldn't help but notice the abundance of really attractive men. Young men, but very cute. They certainly outnumbered the women in the pub. Eventually, one or two of them noticed my accent started talking to me. That was all it took: I stayed at the pub with them til the wee hours.
More on that in the next post. Maybe.

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