We arrived in London this morning. We’re staying in a darling cottage in Rye. Once we arrived here our first order of business was to pick up our rental van. Then we drove to Costco to pick up essentials, we are staying out in the country so finding breakfast or off schedule meals is tough. So, we like to have all the basics for a solid breakfast, and sandwiches on the run. We love that the eggs are free range and not refrigerated, also instead of two gallons of milk you get two small liters at Costco, Zeb also enjoyed a cottage pie from the Costco food court (we don’t have that in the US). After we picked up food Zeb tested out his skills with driving a stick shift van on the left side of the road, all while he was running on zero sleep for over 24 hrs. It was sketch, but he prayed a lot and I constantly reminded him when he was over the line. I try not to tell him how to drive, but also didn’t want to die . It was a grand adventure leaving London and heading out to Rye. Once we arrived at the cottage, we took a quick nap. We found a local inn for dinner and enjoyed the most delicious meal. Finished the night by driving into town to get shampoo. Round-abouts, skinny dark and muddy country roads. And now back to the cottage by 8:35 so we can eat Sticky Toffey pudding from The Ferry Inn and plan our day tomorrow. I’m not sure how many Americans holiday in this part of England, everyone seems to be fascinated with us and they have no idea where Lehi, Utah is. We tell them 6 hours from Las Vegas. Oh, and did I mention how kind and polite everyone is? The English are a warm generous people and we’re so blessed to be here.Watch the English cottage tour here: https://fb.watch/c3gP6PHBBU
I woke up and made Zeb two eggs, bacon (oh my gosh it’s good here) and toast. We’re ready for treasure hunting and exploring. If we happen to pass by a hertz we may swap our van for an automatic SUV. Zeb’s out of practice with shifting and it’s weird to do it with his left hand. I love a fresh day with new opportunities. The Rays are out on Holiday. Also how gorgeous is this cottage kitchen?? Small but well appointed.
After breakfast we went to my first boot sale, but also found a few house clearance shops (the UK equivalent of estate sales but they put it in a store). This picture is maybe a third of what we purchased. We spent 200 pounds and really got a lot of great pieces. Zeb’s driving has improved, and my butt finally unclenched the seat a bit. Had an almost run in with a tractor on the corner of a country lane, but with expert precision Zeb yielded and pulled over. Turns out we’re boring when it comes to food, we ate at the same inn as yesterday. They have a good menu, so we seem to be working our way through it. It’s nice, they remembered us. We took a nap because #jetlag and then we went back out but nothing was open because apparently everything closes at 4 on Saturday except the pubs. But it’s okay the town looked spendy anyways and we enjoyed window shopping and scoping out beautiful displays. Today’s Sunday so we will go to church and scope out some castles. We’re totally enamored with all the architecture, windmills, weathervanes and the fields and fields of white fluffy sheep. We spoke with a few shop owners, and they are grateful for the business. With Covid 19 shutdowns they have been suffering and are trying to get going again after so many months. I’m not good at bargaining, but when I buy a whole pile of stuff, they all give me the bundle price deal, so it works out. Last night we had a fire, watched British game shows and cooked a simple dinner of grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches with chips (fries). I’m also a discovering I am a big fan of Victoria cakes with English cream.
We started the day early and skipped breakfast to head up to the Ashford Boot Sale. Didn’t buy as many items but purchased some beautiful things. I have yet to find linens or marmalade crocks. I have decided we may have to go mudlarking if I want crocks. I have been doing research on Victorian dump sites to mudlark in, but I’m not sure that really is how I want to spend my English holiday. We ate a traditional breakfast in Canterbury and saw the gorgeous cathedral and medieval walls. Nothing much open today, because Sunday most things are closed down. Something I dearly love and respect. Worth noting if you need groceries the big stores aren’t open or close at 4, because it’s family day. We were organized enough to book a table at The Ferry Inn where we had Sunday Roast. We have eaten one meal a day here and it has yet to disappoint. Pro tip when they bring you mustard with your roast it is not American mustard, do not attempt to dip your roast deep into it and consume it. It will consume you. I learned this the hard way. As not to make an American scene in this tiny Inn, I quickly grabbed Zeb’s water and put out the fire. Later I admitted to the owner what I had done, and she laughed out loud. Maybe now they will tell people from the states to be careful. We spent the evening at home napping, eating dinner and dabbling in watercolor. We’re making a list of things to see and places to go for the rest of the week. This door was just beautiful, and I snapped a picture for no reason. I haven’t taken enough photos, so I plan to do so this week. Hopefully Zeb doesn’t mind when I tell stop the van, I need a picture.Another angle of my junking finds. Am I the only one who loves to stack it and just look at it all piled up? I need to photograph the stuff I purchased on Day 3 next. The question is, which items will I keep as souvenirs? When we travel, I don’t look for t-shirts or hats, I look for items that represent the people who live in the area. I really love utilitarian items, working items that showcase the lifestyle lived. I will start packing boxes tomorrow. The sooner I start the easier it will be as we end our trip.**I have no cheap way to ship home. It will all be packaged in my suitcases and whatever doesn’t fit I will air ship with my ups account. Haven’t figured out how I am going to print labels. I have to shop really smart to make it worth it. And these items will cost way more when I sell them.
Salvage yard and charity shop day! We started at a salvage yard and got all muddy trudging through the junk. Then in a search for another salvage yard we found Cranbrook which is an ancient market town. We stumbled upon a beautiful church and some great charity shopping. Next up Tenterden, lots of charity shops here. I purchased an item specifically for myself and not the shop, a giant copper pot and lid. Today has been our biggest shopping day by far we spent over 300 pounds! But the goodies were too good to pass up. We finished the day in Rye where we climbed to the top of the bell tower in a 12th century Cathedral. The views from the top were magnificent. Rye is just the most beautiful city. Nothing funny happened today, it was just a good day. Oh, and today we saw our first castle, it was an artillery castle in Rye. It paled in comparison to the cathedral, so I took zero pictures, although I’m sure Zeb has 20. Lunch was at the Ferry House for the fourth day in a row (Zeb had more sticky toffee pudding) and dinner will be at home. It is nice to just come home and cook a quiet meal. Tomorrow we will get closer to London.
12th Century Cathedral
12th Century Cathedral Views
12th Century Cathedral Views
We slept in today. Not the best idea because everything closes early, you think we would know that by now. Luckily for me when we arrived at the antique market at the downs there was one booth with all the things I have been dreaming of. It was not with the high-end vendors with all their bits and bobbles under the glass. It was a vendor who was outside. He is an archeologist and what does he happen to dig up? Victorian dump sites. Turns out I don’t have to get into the mud after all, he did it for us. I have never seen so much advertising crockery I’m one place in all my life! The marmalade crocks are mostly pieced together because Victorians didn’t bubble wrap them before they dumped them. But I don’t even care. I also purchased a whole lot of beautiful blue antique ink wells. And this is where I officially go over my 1000-pound budget…. Luckily, he took a card so we still have pounds for tomorrows boot faire. After his booth I picked up a few pieces of enamel, but they pale in comparison to my earlier finds. Oh, and before we even arrived at the market we stopped at an antique shop, picture Zeb driving the van through a tiny village and me yelling STOP THE CAR! just like the evil queen on Shrek when her diet is ruined (if you know you know). And I’m so glad we did stop, I found the most gorgeous and simple enamel three tiered steamer. It won’t be for sale, it’s a private collection keeper. After the market we tried to go to a castle and arrived thirteen minutes to late for the last tour, then we tried to go to an antique store that closed at 4. Finally, we arrived at a pub called The Milk House. The food was amazing as we hadn’t eaten all day, and the owner was the best designer. It was the prettiest pub I think I will ever see. I even photographed their toilet paper holder. Also, we learned that lemonade in England is sprite, and I enjoyed French mustard on my burger. After the last fiasco, I learned when in England I only want to eat French mustard. After driving all day literally, it was so great to go home. The Luckhurst Estate we are staying on is so cozy and quiet. I’m so glad we’re staying here, it’s a refuge from the wild English driving. Yes, I said wild, even Zeb admits it makes his butt clench the seat. Thank you for all our prayers for safety, they are well received on these windy one lane 50 mph country roads that have tall hedges on each side
We went to a boot sale, it was kind of a bust. Luckily it was super early, so we had a whole day to explore. We jotted down to Dover and visited the Dover Castle and the Dover Cliffs. It was so interesting to visit the underground tunnels, medieval castle, and Roman light house. The views were amazing. But even more beautiful to me was seeing the Dover Cliffs and the wild ponies. Zeb and I hiked all over the cliffs and castle grounds. I’m sufficiently worn out today, so my grammar might not be great. Although let’s be honest my grammar never is . We ate lunch at a small cafe called Charlie Chaplin’s and the food tasted just like American comfort food. The owners were from the Czech Republic, and we loved them! So genuine and sweet. About four we drove home and took a nap. Then started packing our finds. We have one box packed, five more to go. I started bread last night and I baked it tonight, it has a slow rise. It was sooooo good and crusty. Also made pasta with a bunch of random ingredients we have. Tomorrow we’re going to spend the day visiting some coastal towns and finishing packing things up. We’re trying hard not to wait to the last minute. Packing a little each day so we can drop them off Friday. Oh, and we finally met the owner of the cottage we’re staying at. She’s darling, stylish, and exactly as I suspected.
Originally, we were going to head to London. But the pace of this trip has been slow and neither Zeb nor I felt the need to have a crazy day traveling into London. When we travel a schedule really doesn’t exist. We do what we want and never miss an opportunity to let the area show us where we should go. So, we switched gears and decided to drive up the coast to visit the charity and home decor shops. The ocean was beautiful, and all the beaches were rocks. We loved Hythe, it was quiet and charming. We’re off season, so most shops are open minimal hours. Thank you to every shop that let me pee, toilets aren’t a guarantee here. On our way home I saw a sign leading to a castle, Lympne. We decided to check it out. Turns out that castle isn’t open to the public. But next to it there was a gorgeous Medieval church with views all the way to the ocean. We were the only souls in the gardens, and it was just amazing (I even got to go inside as a patron happened to stop by to look for something). A little slice of heaven that we would have missed. Spring is here in England and each day we are enjoying more green and new blossoms. I’m sure there are amazing things in London, but I’m thankful for making the decision to just travel the coast. Some of the pictures have glows and rainbows I didn’t add. See if you can find them \
Today we shipped six boxes back to the states!! It was definitely more complicated than I am used to and took half a day to get them to the drop off with labels and customs attached. Nowhere is set up to do international shipping in our area here. But everyone was patient with me while I figured it out. To celebrate a victorious triumph over shipping junk, we ate at the Globe Inn Marsh. It was soo good! Zeb’s pizza was on point and my burger was amazing. Tasted just like home. We finished the day at Leeds castle. The grounds were beautiful, and we loved exploring. They have a dog collar museum, and it was surprisingly intriguing. Dinner was at home. Zeb ate a grilled cheese, and I had a butter and jam sandwich. We thought about going out to eat, but nowhere had reservations and I didn’t want to put my bra back on to risk not getting a table anyway. If you do a trip like this where you are in the countryside, I suggest keeping food on hand. It’s not to save money, sometimes it’s just more convenience than anything. There is no door dash or drive thru. Tomorrow, we plan on trying out the UK McDonalds, it’s right next to the boot faire. Before you give me crap, it’s something we like to do. One meal when we travel, we like to see how different the McDonald’s is. It’s just kinda fun.
Let’s talk about something controversial. Painting wood. To all the people saying it’s a fad I’m going to call you on it. This first picture is Leeds Castle and I’m loving the Gustavian style paneling. The finish in real life was just beautiful. All through Europe including back in medieval times wood furniture was painted. So there ya have it. Now that we got that out let’s talk about our day. It was the only perfectly timed day. We started at the boot sale in Ashford, moved on to the jumble sale in Goudhurst and then arrived at Hever right when they opened. Hever has beautiful gardens including an authentic Italian one with Roman relics. We finished in enough time to go back over to Leeds so we could go inside the castle. Then we napped and finished the Day with Indian food. It wasn’t my favorite food, but I don’t really like Indian Food in general, so I’m sure it was lovely. I always like to try new things, so we did. I did however accidentally chomp down on a pepper and that made me basically done eating for sure. Oh, and we did try the McDonalds for breakfast. The bacon is more like ham, the soda is tiny, and they put ketchup on a breakfast sandwich. Otherwise, it was basically the same. And I thought it tasted delish! Worth noting both castles we visited were in ruins at the turn of the 19th century and wealthy Americans bought them and saved them. And both castles were visited by Henry the VIII and Anne Boleyn.
Today was really the perfect last day. It checked all the boxes. We started at the boot faire and filled a suitcase with treasures. All total we have shipped six large boxes and filled 4 bags and 2 carryon bags and 2 personal bags. We passed our covid tests even though I didn’t have a lick of ID on me. I’m shocked they didn’t make me go back home. Zeb was shocked to learn that I had traveled all over the Kent countryside with zero ID or wallet. Just my phone. Then we headed up to Canterbury. It was 50% off at the first charity shop so that’s always fun. Then we had French pastries and milk. Followed by a walk in the park and a visit to the museum. We visited the Canterbury Cathedral which was the most beautiful and impressive building we toured. It was more than I expected and sent chills down my spine. It has a sorted and chilling past, history for over 1000 years. Right next to the cathedral was a fudge shop. Afterwards we had the best pizza I have even eaten, and I got an email from a shop owner that he would meet me at his shop (it was closed). And what did he have in his shop? More marmalade crocks and advertising pots. Shop is actually a loose term, it was more like a closet. I stepped one foot in and he showed me things through the glass. I wish Zeb had filmed that, it was so interesting. He was also very talkative, and it was difficult to get a word in edgewise. Something I love very much as it doesn’t happen often to me. After that we took a quick nap and woke up to the most glorious sunset, I shared a pic in stories. We finished by getting the last two portions of Sunday roast at the Inn. While we finished our sticky toffee pudding the owner sat down to talk with us, he also was a talker. The Day ended with Zeb and I packing the last of our treasures and making sure all our bags were at the max weight. I can tell you we literally could not have purchased one marshmallow. We were full. It’s a gift really to be able to maximize space and weight. Also, this trip was a gift, to spend it with Zeb and have it has been so amazing. I know many prayers were offered for our health and safety and we felt them all. England has a place in my heart.
Yesterday we traveled and we were up 22 hours. It was an ordeal to check all our bags twice (when you have a layover you go through customs and then recheck them), we almost didn’t make our second flight. I was so tired that I accidentally put on two bras and wore them all day before I noticed what I had done. Traveling is exhausting. But what a special thing it was to come home to our kids, my parents and two dogs so happy to see us. We got home just in time to hug and have family prayer. Words of thanks were given that we were all back together again. What a wonderful experience it was to travel, and an even better experience to come home and feel the warmth and love we share here. Our house looks like England threw up on it. But I’m enjoying every moment of unwrapping, photographing, and listing our finds. We have started a new collection on the website called English Holiday. Over the next few weeks, we’ll get it all listed. So much has already sold. For that we are so grateful, it gives me hope that we will be able to travel more. What a dream it is.