Friday 29th June
Andrew had booked another Landmark Trust holiday for my birthday weekend, this one is Prospect Tower. It’s a lovely Gothic tower which is a folly in the grounds of Belmont House near Faversham in Kent. We set off at 9.45am and reached Canterbury in time for lunch at Café de Amigos, our favourite Mexican restaurant, where we ate delectable lamb fajitas. We went for a stroll around Canterbury afterwards, stopping at the Steamer cook shop in the hopes of buying some slate place mats. No such luck, but bought new kitchen scales, a knife sharpener and four bullet shot glasses like the two we already have.
In Fenwick’s we found a lovely retro halter neck dress in purple, pink and orange silk, that Andrew bought me for my birthday. We shopped for food then set off back to the car, unfortunately too late to avoid a torrential downpour. It has been persisting down for about five weeks now, I’ve never known such consistently awful weather through June.
We drove out to the tower, which is an ace of clubs shape with wonderful Gothic stained glass windows. It is the smallest Landmark we have stayed in. There are two steps up as you enter the tower, you have to shut the door while standing on the top step, then three steps down straight into the bedroom. The top of the club shape is the weeny shower room cum loo. Up twenty nine steps to the sitting room area which has the tiniest kitchen directly above the bathroom. Only one of us can stand in it, so will be taking turns to cook and make drinks. Up a further thirty one steps brought us out on the roof, which had been decked, and had magnificent views over the tree tops and all the way out to sea. When it is clear you can see the wind turbines at Whitstable.
I unpacked and we sat up on the roof for a while, then went for a walk, in the garden beside the tower was a little dog cemetery, dating from 1911 back.
Nearby there is a cricket field and pavilion, this has been recently restored, they had the first match on 27th May this year. The 4th Lord Harris of Belmont House had the original Belmont cricket field made, he played cricket for Kent and was apparently known as the father of English cricket. In 1878 he captained the England team and took them to Australia for a test match that instigated the Ashes test series. £6000 towards the restoration fund was raised by buying a 25 year old tractor in Douglas, Scotland and driving it the 550 miles down to Kent.
We went back to the tower and Andrew cooked dinner while I relaxed with some wine and music, then we went back up to the roof to watch the sun setting over the downs.
Saturday 30th June
I was up early that morning made coffee, and sat watching the rabbits playing in the field, they are so cute. Andrew cooked us smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast, then we went out to visit World of Butterflies just outside Folkestone. Spent a lot of time watching gorgeous Swallowtails etc. Stunning creatures, some of which had wings resembling Mother of Pearl, I could have stayed all day. The owner showed us the recently hatched ones, their wings had not dried yet, so they couldn’t fly, a couple of them attempted to, I held two for a minute before they went back in their hut, if they land on the ground they can’t take off again.
We went on down to Sandgate where we found a really good tapas restaurant called Tinto’s, had excellent food there including gorgeous Moroccan lamb with apricot crème fraiche. Walked along the sea front afterwards, not for long as another torrential downpour had us scurrying back to the car.
Back at the tower we read for a while, had a nap, then dressed for dinner. Andrew had booked a table at Ardennes an excellent restaurant in Faversham, smoked salmon cheesecake, crab and leek terrine, venison, fillet steak in smoked oyster sauce, orange and treacle tart and delectable home made lemon meringue ice cream. A bottle of Sacred Head Shiraz accompanied the meal, everything was delicious, we’ll eat here again when we are in Kent, I am sure.
We drove back to the tower to relax with more wine and some classical music, I love the peacefulness of these Landmarks set miles away from towns.
Sunday 1st July
I was up early again, the sun was shining so I got Andrew up and we drove over to Harty Ferry on the Swale to have a walk on the marshes. We walked all round Oare Creek Nature Reserve, it is a lovely place. We watched the birds and saw the sailing barges with the ochre sails, spent a couple of hours walking and reached the car again just before the rain began.
Then we drove into Faversham for lunch at the Sun Inn, also a great place to eat, we sat in their lovely little patio at the back.
Went back to Belmont to have a look round the gardens and have a tour of the house. We get free access to the tour and grounds because we are staying in the folly.
The 5th Lord Harris spent years collecting over 350 clocks, it is said to be one of the largest privately owned collections in the country. The tour, including all the clocks was very good, Belmont is a Georgian mansion designed by Samuel Wyatt. The gardens are lovely and date back to the 1790’s, there is a Pinetum with a Victorian shell grotto within it, which contains fossilised Ammonites, a pretty kitchen garden and Victorian greenhouses.
All well worth a visit, but the gardens were even nicer to walk around in the evening when we had the place to ourselves.
After dinner at the tower we wandered around the grounds again and found a lovely herb garden that we’d missed earlier, several different types of lavender are in it and it smells wonderful. Relaxed with some wine up on the roof and watched a lovely sunset, turning round I found an intensely bright rainbow in a perfect arc opposite the setting sun.
Monday 2nd July
We were breakfasted, packed and ready to leave our lovely little Prospect Tower by 11am. As always I was sad to be leaving this exceptionally lovely building, and would say that this one is definitely in my top five Landmarks we’ve stayed at. No bunnies were out to watch this morning. We drove down to Herne Bay, as of course the sun was shining because we were going home, so we decided to have a walk by the sea. Herne Bay has had an injection of cash from the lottery heritage fund and is looking all the better for it. The gardens on the front are lovely and the old bandstand has a new lease of life. The sea break wall has been heightened a few feet since I last saw it too, I bought some Herne Bay rock for the boys for old times sake.
Drove up through Tankerton with it’s cliff walks and into Whitstable for a wander and lunch before we set off home. Ambled around the lovely old town and had lunch at a pub. We walked along the sea front and up around the harbour before setting off home through the usual roadwork’s and traffic of the motorways. Arrived home two hours later than we’d hoped to have a cuddle with the cats and a meal at Café Balti. Thank you Andrew for another wonderful and memorable birthday holiday.