Back again in the land of the living (and working, more's the pity) after a lovely long weekend. If you don't like diary style blog entries it's time to look away now!
I worked in London on Thursday and, as you may have seen from my previous post, I indulged in a little end-of-the-month shopping at the Fever shop at lunchtime. It was very good indeed, and I'm always pleased by how friendly the staff and other shoppers are. The afternoon flew by and it was soon time to meet Nic to head down to Kent to spend the bank holiday weekend with his family. We met at the John Snow on Broadwick street and stopped into the Liberty store before catching the train. It was Nic's mum's birthday and I wanted to get her something from Liberty by way of thanks for the scarf she gave me in January. The staff were extremely helpful and I was able to buy some beautiful Liberty pattern mugs, which she was delighted with. I spotted the Liberty for Target piggy bank that I've had my eye on for a while – only for the fact that a) I had too much to carry and b) I don't actually need a piggy bank I would have bought it. I still might, you can see for yourself how cute he is here!
We walked down to Charing Cross and had enough time to buy some sandwiches from Paul before catching the train to Kent. It was a very uneventful journey, most of which I spent reading The Rector's Wife by Joanna Trollope, which I had picked up a few days earlier. I was a but dubious about it, but I found it wholly absorbing and very moving and I shall be watching the channel 4 miniseries on 4 On Demand as soon as I get a bit of time. We arrived with Nic's parents in the early evening and passed a very pleasant evening chatting and generally catching up before having an early night. It was so good to see Nic's dad, who had been very ill earlier in the year, on such good form.
The weather was beautiful on Friday so Nic and I got up nice and early to catch the bus to Rye. As it was nice and sunny we took a quick turn along Sandgate seafront and I wore one of my new dresses.
On Sandgate beach. I'm wearing my new Fever Jeanne maxi dress. It was very windy - hence the windswept hair!
We'd visited Rye once before (well, once for me – Nic has been there many times) and I was very excited to be going again. The bus journey takes you through the Kent countryside, through pretty villages like Hythe and New Romney and across the marshes by Camber Sands to Rye. The landscape around Camber is amazing, I wish I could have taken some photos but it's a bit difficult from a moving bus! It is so flat and bleak, it's almost alien. Rye is built on a hill, and the town is extraordinarily pretty and quaint. It has a rich literary heritage – Henry James lived in Rye, as did Radclyffe Hall. E.F. Benson lived in Rye (in Henry James's house) and based the town of Tilling in his Mapp and Lucia novels on Rye. The town is very quaint and absolutely full of antiques markets and shops. Nic and I spent a good part of the morning browsing around, and we even managed to pick ourselves up a few treats. I bought Nic a spotty silk tie and he bought himself an amazing paisley dressing gown from Classic Chaps on Cinque Ports Street. Further up the street, in a vintage furniture shop I bought a Hornsea Heirloom vinegar pourer.
The man who runs the shop had loads of Hornsea so I had to be very restrained (and also mindful of having to carry lots of stuff back up to Leamington!) but he has promised to keep an eye out for an Heirloom teapot for me, so I'll definitely be back! I also bought Nic a cornishware eggcup, which was a bargain because it is slightly chipped.
We had a picnic in the grounds of St Mary's Church and then a look around inside. You're able to climb up the bell tower and go out onto the battlements of the Church. We decided not to the last time we were in Rye as it was too hot, but it was too good to miss out on this time. There are a fair few steps to climb up, including a brilliant bit where you almost have to edge along a catwalk overlooking the inside of the Church! The route takes you up through the bell tower and past the bells, and then out through a tiny little door onto the battlements. It wasn't quite as windy or precarious as the top of Dungeness lighthouse, but it was pretty blowy up there! The views made it worthwhile though, as did the excitement of the climb.
After that we stopped for a cup of coffee in Simon the Pieman's teashop before exploring a bit more around Rye. We had a drink in a pub next to the Ypres Tower and, as we had both misbehaved so badly they put us in the stocks
(I know, how hilarious are we?!) The only slight downside to the day was catching the bus home with a lot of rowdy schoolchildren, but we'd had such fun it hardly seemed to matter.
On Saturday morning Nic and I went to visit his grandparents and then spent the afternoon in Canterbury. I feel like I know Canterbury very well now and although the weather was extremely changeable we had a very enjoyable afternoon. I picked up another Joanna Trollope novel (just as well, as I had finished The Rector's Wife) and Nic bought himself a cravat to go with his paisley dressing gown. Before catching the bus home we spent some time in the Canterbury Roman Musuem finding out about Canterbury's history. It was great fun – I'm a great big nerd when it comes to museums and this one was no exception.
Nic with a Paul Cuff lookalike
I'm getting some takeaway Roman oysters - yuck! Still, I like my new dress very much.
I had hoped to have a walk on the seafront before dinner but when I got up to get off the bus, found that I had been sitting on some chewing gum. This was very distressing as it was the first time I had worn the lovely Photograph dress, and I was also very angry because it is just so disgusting. It is a really skanky tramp that takes chewing gum out of their mouth and disposes of it on a bus seat. There's also some malice in there as well, the hope that someone will sit on it and ruin their clothes. Luckily I was able to get the nasty stuff out, with the help of some vinegar and warm water, but it did rather spoil the afternoon.
We passed the rest of the weekend very quietly because the weather turned very cold and dismal – Nic had planned to take me back to the Grand Hotel for tea on Sunday, but after having our umbrella completely obliterated by the wind in Folkestone town centre we decided not to brave the cliffs – it'll be much nicer to do it when we go down again later in the year. Folkestone is a bit of an odd town but I like it a lot, and I love the village that Nic's parents live in, so spending the weekend in Kent was a real treat. Sadly I didn't get to dip my feet in the sea, as it was just too cold, but I certainly plan to later in the summer. The sun came out just long enough on Monday for Nic and I to spend some time in the garden before catching the train back up to London.
Once in London, I left Nic with a pint and a book in a pub near Marylebone while I did a little bit of shopping on Marylebone high street. After seeing someone on the train with this bag from Cath Kidston I decided I'd like one so off I trotted to their shop. The staff are so lovely and friendly, I will definitely be back for some fabric when I've got my sewing machine up and running. As it was, I bought the bag and also a sewing box to keep all my bits and pieces in (and a holder for my railcard because I was in a bit of a naughty spendy mood) I'm going to order a sewing machine tomorrow and am very excited about getting started with it. Nic and I were quite laden down when it came time to catch the train, but as we were catching the Wrexham and Shropshire service back up to Leamington it didn't matter.
I have to admit here to being a bit of a train nerd. I'm not a trainspotter, as such – I don't know anything about the different types of train, much less their numbers or names, but I do think trains are fascinating all the same. I've been curious about this service over the past few months, but have always been a bit shy of catching one of the trains in case my ticket wasn't valid. Anyway, it is, so we did. The train is like a train from a film, if you know what I mean, and very luxurious inside – Nic said he felt like he was in North by Northwest. It was an excellent journey, and I was glad to get home to Leamington and to our little flat. We had a very quiet evening watching a film and having dinner, while I attempted to sort out our holiday. This initially proved stressful for some very boring reasons but it's all sorted now – I'm finally getting back to Northern Ireland in a few weeks' time, and then Nic and I are spending a week in Paris at the beginning of June. I am inordinately excited about both of these things. It feels like forever since I've been home (it has been – last time was Christmas) and although I can't go for just as long as I'd like, it's still very exciting. I'll have a lot to pack in, but I'm hoping I'll finally be able to take Nic to the Ulster Museum in Belfast. It’s been closed for refurbishment on all of our previous visits to Belfast but it reopened recently and I can't wait to see it.
I could write another blog post as long as this and longer about how excited I am about going to Paris. We didn't think we'd be able to go, but we're going to be spending a week in an apartment in Montmartre and already have lots of exciting things planned. We'll be self-catering, which suits two vegetarians very well, and hopefully it will mean that we'll save some money on food so that it can be better spent on champagne and adventures.
On that thought, I'm off to daydream a little bit more about our Parisian adventure….