The planned long weekend in France at the start of the month was put on hold for fear of quarantine on return, which would have wrecked the family’s visit to see the new house. (Quarantine wasn’t actually imposed for another two weeks.) Instead, my friends snatched a weekend in Kent, which started with champagne on the beach as the moon rose, and graduated to sea swimming as the temperature climbed the next day. I hadn’t swum in the UK sea for around twenty-five to thirty years so I was very proud of myself!
When the family arrived a few days later, we swam most days. (I’d bought child-sized swim shoes in preparation for the shingle beach.) I thought my grandson would find it way too cold but once he got over the shock he loved it. Peanut butter sandwiches were the perfect antidote to any salty water he may have swallowed!
I’d booked a visit to Walmer Castle gardens and it worked very well for a family outing. Plenty of shade as the temperature rose, lots to see in the woodland walk and the gardens, hungry fishes ready to ‘snack’ on small fingers in the formal pond and thoughtful deckchairs set in the shade for when we needed to have a rest and a drink.
Visiting Wingham Wildlife Park on a day when the temperature reached over 30 degrees was more of a challenge – a lot of the animals were sensibly lurking inside – but Ellis loved the ring-tailed lemurs, the penguins and, of course, the go-karts. He was less sure about the moving dinosaurs. We were all ready for a swim after nearly four hours spent there.
Ellis loved playing with his Dad’s old toys – found in the loft when I moved – and he was pretty keen on all the ice cream to be had locally.
It was very quiet once everyone went home – but they left me with some enormous lilies, which filled the house with their perfume for days.
With a few days before the next visitors arrived, I had shelves built and spent a weekend painting them, filling one set with books, and assembling a flat-pack sideboard. Might have overdone it – the back has been playing up ever since!
When the family were here, we ate breakfast and lunch in the garden and dinner, too – it was such amazing weather. We tried a lot of the local take-aways (below left). The next visitors resulted in dining-out experiences for the first time since March! The food at The Rose (below right) was excellent, and the atmosphere at Eva’s was perfect for a suddenly damp and cool Saturday evening (we only tried the bruschetta, but they were delicious).
A fierce storm the day before – thunder and lightning for nearly an hour, flooding in town, a lightning strike on a house and subsequent fire – had upset the weather just in time for the Bank Holiday weekend. We did the traditional British stiff-upper-lip thing and picnicked on fish and chips on the beach (there may also have been champagne), sheltering behind a boat from the blustery wind, grey skies and flurries of rain. It was fun – and, of course, the sun came out just as everyone headed home.