Here are some of the places we visited during our trip to England this September:
Appledene Alpacas, Marden, Kent: This farm raises alpacas for their wool. This is a relatively new branch of farming in England. It was interesting to see these non-native animals in the very English Kent countryside. They seem to have adapted well, and the future of such farms will depend on the demand for alpaca wool.
Teapot Island, Yalding, Kent: A collection of teapots (very typically English!), with a cafe by the riverside. The setting was attractive, and we walked along the river and crossed a medieval bridge.
Chiddingstone Castle, Edenbridge, Kent: This attractive castle contains the antiquities collections of its former owner, Denys Eyre Bower. These include Egyptian, Japanese and Chinese artifacts. There was also a room dedicated to Bower's life. The castle grounds were also worth exploring.
We visited a relative Ramsgate, Kent, a seaside town on the East coast, and then visited nearby Margate, Kent, which used to be a holiday resort and is now rather run-down and sad. There are still some amusement arcades with slot machines, which seem outdated compared with modern computer games. The beach was full of seaweed, and there were lots of seagulls.
Another trip took us to Lewes, Sussex, then down to Brighton, Sussex. We ate lunch there, but didn't stay long due to the high cost of parking. This seems to be a town worth visiting by train. We saw, in passing, the Royal Pavilion, the promenade and the Brighton Pier.
Some of the best places to eat in England at the moment are the country pubs, which sometimes offer cuisine to rival urban restaurants. They often use local ingredients, supporting the area's farmers. One of the best examples we visited was The Dirty Habit, Hollingbourne, Kent, which took its double-entendre name partly from the habits of monks, as it had been a pilgrim's inn since the 13th century.