I had a few hours to spare so went for a drive in the Kent countryside with nowhere particular in mind. I was on a busy dual carriageway and waiting for something to lure me away. A sign for Hucking Estate showed a place for walks and picnics, so I flicked my indicator and headed off into the narrow lanes and tree tunnels. A nightmare I usually avoid, dreading coming face to face with a vehicle that will be obstinate and refuse to back away. I hate reversing especially if someone is edging towards me impatiently. But thankfully that was in my mind, it didn’t actually happen. I stopped by the roadside to take photos which on their own do not do justice in conveying the splendorous views that surrounded me amidst peace on that cool sunny autumn day.
I noticed a sign at a vague crossroads to an Art Studio. Intrigued, as I love discovering unexpected places, I followed the sign until I came to a dilemma. A choice of a no through road or turn off to the right. Well, I thought, it is perhaps most likely along the no through road and at least I will come to an end, whereas the other road could take me who knows how far. Mere seconds along the no through road and I was regretting my choice. There were no passing points, nowhere to go if another vehicle appeared, especially if it was a tractor, and no way I could reverse unless I could manage a straight (or curving) line. Recalling a theme within a book I am reading*, I tried to convince myself that it was less boring to follow this road and that I must let my fear ride alongside and ignore it. I eventually arrived at a farm where there were lots of tractors and the people living there came out to see me. It was good to meet a friendly face and I was reassured that there were no tractors due to arrive and if another vehicle did appear, it was possible to somehow squeeze past. I was kindly given directions to the Art Studio which was but a few minutes away.
And so I came to arrive at This Art of Mine Arts & Craft Studio. I was welcomed by a friendly dog from the neighbouring house and discovered that the Studio was in fact closed but there was someone there. I was welcomed in and had a guided tour, discovering a wonderful place that offered workshops (which included decorating pottery and jewellery making) and also an area dedicated to open access to just turn up and pay as you paint pottery. It was really spacious and light, with plenty of examples of work that had already been done.
When I left, I decided to carry on and head back to the main road. In doing so, I ended up arriving at one of my favourite restaurants, The Black Horse Inn at Thurnham that I had not visited in a long while.
I wasn’t hungry when I arrived so had a lemonade and sat outside on the terrace in the sunshine. Enticed by the daily special menu, I lengthened my stay and enjoyed a tasty three course lunch ending with a luscious Creme Brûlée.
I was full and sat relaxing, reading my book in the cosy historic atmosphere of the Inn.
The Black Horse Inn is licensed for Marriages and Civil Ceremonies. It is a beautiful place with a special landscaped area for ceremonies. There is also accommodation that can be booked. Ideal for wedding guests or if you are having a special celebration and want to be able to have a drink and not worry about driving home, or if you are visiting the area and want somewhere different to stay.
I am including the following photo as it shows more of the immense outdoor areas available. The sun was so bright that the angle I took it has affected it but in black and white it does provide you with a picture of what it is like – perhaps it adds a hint of romance.
The Black Horse Inn is a very friendly and welcoming public house and restaurant (with accommodation) and I thoroughly recommend a visit if you find yourself in the area of Maidstone in Kent, England. Their website can be found here.
I never ended up on the Hucking Estate but information on this Woodland Trust area, and other areas within the Kent Downs – AnArea of Outstanding Natural Beauty – can be found here www.kentdowns.org.uk.
This Art of Mine Art & Craft Studio – information can be found here.
The book I am reading is Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear, written by Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat Pray Love. Here is a link to The The Guardian Q & A with the author.