Free range

A friend of mine is the proud keeper of five chickens, and today he invited me over to watch them have a dust bath. They each have their own little personalities and watching them roam free was a great way to end the week – a good antidote to a week in an office, especially on a day which felt almost springlike.

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Kenilworth Castle

Last weekend I had the most beautiful day at Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire. It’s a stunning ruin with centuries of history and my kind of photographer’s paradise. Here are some of my favourite Kenilworth Castle facts:

  • The castle’s origins date back to 1120
  • It was once surrounded by a huge man-made lake
  • It was a medieval fortress which was later turned into a pleasure palace
  • Parts of it were deliberately destroyed in 1650 after the English Civil War

One of my favourite things about it today is that staircases have been installed in some of the taller buildings so you can get all the way to the top, and see the castle really up close, and experience views that stretch for miles.

Knole

I ventured over the Thames from Essex to Kent this weekend to visit Knole in Sevenoaks, on the first springlike day of 2015 (although leaving my coat in the car turned out to be overambitious).

Knole has passed through generations of the Sackville family and is now looked after by the National Trust, and is surrounded by an enormous deer park. The drive up to the house was the most exciting arrival at a place I’ve experienced in a while, as the winding driveway takes you past groups of actual gambolling deer. I couldn’t wait to get out of the car and start taking some pictures.

There is some major interpretation and conservation work going on at the moment (I think I inhaled and choked on a dust fragment from Charles II’s bed), so you don’t quite get the full effect of everything being on show, but that really makes it a more interesting time to visit as seeing how these places are looked after is, for me anyway, a major part of the fun.

After a look around the house we went for a walk, which was a little confusing as the surrounding park is also a golf course, so you have to make sure you stick to the paths where necessary. Totally worth it for the deer though, I couldn’t believe how many of them there were.

Will definitely be back in the future to see the deer again and to see how the interpretation and conservation project pans out.

Autumn at Hylands Park

Hylands Park is one of my favourite green spaces around here, and I thought I’d pay it a visit in this beautiful autumn weather. I took my camera with Lensbaby attached just for a bit of a change. I can never quite make up my mind whether I like the effect or if it’s making my eyes go funny! What do you think?

Ightham Mote

Bit of a mega upload today, of photographs from Ightham Mote in Kent. This is one of those places with so many layers of history (the oldest parts of the buildings date back to the 1320s) and it was fascinating and beautiful to explore. I didn’t get a chance to look around the gardens this time so I’ll be paying another visit one day.

I went in the middle/late afternoon on an autumn day, so the sun wasn’t best placed to get shots of the exterior of the building, and there was some scaffolding up on one side, so I concentrated on looking for interesting patterns and textures and colours to photograph.

Ightham Mote was given to the National Trust in 1985, and I think they are doing a great job looking after such a complex site. All the staff and volunteers I spoke to were really friendly and happy to share their knowledge of the history of the house and the people who have lived there, and there’s a lovely cafe too which is always a bonus. Altogether a wonderful place to escape to for a day – and there’s a holiday cottage in the old stables for those who want to stay a little longer.

Kelvedon Hall

This is just up the road from me. It’s still privately owned and open one day a year in the summer. I haven’t been since I was a toddler so it was good to go back as a grown-up (sort of) with a camera.

As well as the rather beautiful house, the gardens hide away the former parish church, now fallen into ruins and romantically overgrown, and a gorgeous aqua blue 1940s (I think) swimming pool (I don’t usually get carried away with swimming pools but this was lovely).

The history of the estate stretches back for centuries. It was owned for 400 years by the Wright family (13 John Wrights in a row). A Tudor house stood on the site, and this was rebuilt in the 1740s. You can find a history of the house here.