The weatherman said that Sunday would be cold; 9 degrees, cloudy, with snow on high ground. As such, I was prepared for a day indoors in front of the fire; however, I woke in my room at my mum’s house to bright sunshine at 8am on Sunday morning. The birds were singing, the sky was blue and I couldn’t wait to get outside. My mum was of the same persuasion, so while everyone else was still pottering around in their pyjamas, we headed off to walk into town. Taking the direct route is normally a good 40 minutes’ brisk walk, and isn’t particularly exciting; there’s a shortcut through the woods, but then it’s pretty much walking alongside a busy road the whole way. So today, after coming out of the woods, we decided to take a road we had never been down before, thinking that eventually we’d come out somewhere vaguely near the High Street. After just five minutes of walking, what had been a posh 1930’s suburban street suddenly opened out into countryside. The houses became bigger, older, and further apart, and to our total surprise, we not only found an 18th century manor house, but a stunningly beautiful farm called ‘Little Brittain’. It just goes to show – you really never do know what you might find on your own doorstep!
After lots more walking than we had anticipated, we found ourselves at the bottom of Sevenoaks High Street, near Knole House. I took a photo of Jane Austen’s Uncle’s house (according to this very interesting website, which details the Austen family’s connections with Kent, Jane and Cassandra Austen visited the house in 1788), which, depressingly, is now a solicitor’s. Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth House in Richmond has sadly suffered the same fate. Such a shame. We then popped across the road to look at the lovely public garden that has a beautiful magnolia tree, and then to the ancient church to have a look at some of the fantastic gravestones. After all that walking, we were quite exhausted, so we went off for a spot of cake and tea before getting our shopping and walking back home. Talk about making the most of the morning!
But that was not all! After lunch we set off for Blackheath, in South East London, which is a very desirable patch of the capital due to its huge open Common, lovely traditional village centre (with a brilliant book shop), and drop dead gorgeous period homes. My brother and his girlfriend have just bought their first home together in a road off the Common (I am not jealous at all), so the whole family headed over to have a nosy. It’s a lovely place, on the first floor of what would once have been an incredibly grand Victorian house, but with three small bored children in tow, we couldn’t stay long. George and Freddie raced off to the common, with all of us in hot pursuit, and we were all soon lazing around by the pond in the sunshine. The boys ‘fished’ with sticks along the edge of the water, my sister and her husband reminisced about their childfree days when they too had lived in Blackheath, and I marvelled at how amazing it was to be lying on a huge patch of peaceful greenery and yet still be able to see Canary Wharf looming up right in front of me. London is a pretty amazing city in how diverse it is. Blackheath is a little like the Hampstead of South London; you never really feel like you’re in London when you’re there, but you’re constantly reminded by the skyline that you’re really just a stone’s throw away from all the action. It’s the perfect place to be in my book, and I look forward to spending more time there now I’ll have a room to stay in just around the corner!