Friday, July 31, 2009


Last year, on my trip to Kent, I told you about discovering the lavender fields somewhere near Sevenoaks (or Threeoaks as Son calls it after the great storm in 1987.)

This year, I was really excited about driving over to Castle Farm again during my month in the UK. I wanted to stand at the edge of the field, to gaze at the purple stripes of lavender, undulating away. The first time they had made me gasp out loud when our train flew past them.

So when we landed a month ago, I looked out for them as our train sped away from London into Kent. And there they were. The tiniest hint only of the purple to come, just lines of small, round, mostly green shrubs.

Each time I caught the train to or from London, I obsessed about my seat; desperate to be on the correct side to catch the startling view of the lavender over the Downs.

Over the four weeks with each train trip it changed, ripening. I planned, tried to identify when I could get over to the Farm to stand and inhale the perfume, the view. I knew that I would take scores of pictures, all of which would look exactly the same as last year’s photos but I still wanted to get over there.

Time was running out, not just for me, but for the lavender too. I knew from last year that they would harvest at the end of July.

And then three days before I flew back to Bangkok I was on the train for the final time. I crossed my fingers and hoped that they hadn’t harvested yet; perhaps and I could get over to the farm during the weekend. I gazed out of the window, waiting for the purple fields to appear in front of me but all I saw were shrubs, rich green, in neat rows disappearing over the hill. I’d missed it.

I was a bit sad but hey, I saw them from the train. I watched them ripen over June and July.

On my last day, I went off to a car boot sale in Sissinghurst with my sister and a couple of her friends. On the way back I spotted another Kent vision. This is a disappearing-from-the-landscape vision: a field of hops.


Carol said...

Awww, sorry you missed getting to see them in all their glory!! Next year :-)

C x

HelenMWalters said...

I lived in Kent for a while and loved it. There really are some amazing sights.

Flowerpot said...

I only went to Kent once, a long time ago, but remember a load of cherry trees. (Was that kent?) We ate loads and felt sick afterwards!

Sara said...

While I'm so sorry you didn't get to see the lavender, I was excited to know you are from England.

My daughter, who grew up in the States, now lives in London. She's about to come for a visit to Florida and then I'll be heading across the pond for her wedding in September. I'll have to check Kent out while I'm there:~)

Jenny Beattie said...

Carol, thanks m'dear. At least I saw it all from the train... several times.

Helen, Kent is beautiful, but I think North Dorset pips it to the post for me!

Flowerpot - yes! Definitely Kent. Daughter and I went off to buy some cherries while we were in England. We bought two huge punnets to take home, but... uhm, we ate a whole one before we got home. Whoops.

Sara, welcome. I grew up in Kent and it's where I stay when I go back from Bangkok because Mum and Dad are still there. It is lovely and so wonderfully close to London.

Liane Spicer said...

Thank you for my first view of hops. The only version I know is hops bread! Don't think they're related, somehow...