Category Archives: England


They call the place Sissinghurst Castle Garden, but it is really not a castle.

The garden is very famous though.

We approach.

Last winter they opened the winter garden to visitors for the first time and I was there.

On a lovely bright February day.

Vita Sackville-West was the lady of the house and the chief gardener. She and her husband bought the place, I think there was some sad story of her growing up at a mansion not too far away and being unable to inherit it.

She fell in love with the tower on this property. This is the view from up there.

You can see the hop kilns

The view form the other side of the arched entrance,

the neighbours,

over the pond to the main buildings

and the tower as seen from the garden.

In February you can see the snowdrops, the crocus flowers and the bare rose stems.

They say if you bend the roses they flower profusely. You can do this with all roses except the hybrid teas. Think I should come back in summer!

Do you think we can pick saffron?

The garden is famous for Vita’s new style of planting, but don’t overlook the structural design.

They say she was never in the garden without at least a string of pearls.

The main living quaters as seen from the courtyard.

And the tower in all its glory. It does seem like an ideal place to write, which is what she wanted it for.

Think I remember they lived here for years in a ruin so they could renovate. All for the tower and the garden.

Well if she had her way and stayed in her childhood home, she would never have created this beautiful place and garden.

Our guide wasn’t sure of the name of this plant but assured us it had been flowering for weeks. Protected there in the corner.

If I’m right it is the camelia japonica, or the Japanese camelia, cousin to the tea plant – camelia sinensis, from China.

Salmon and Spelt

Not really a recipe I presume.

The spelt pancake is filled with soft cheese and served with avo, smoked salmon and some young crest leaves.

I just baked the spelt pancake with the normal pancake recipe, substituting spelt flour for wheat flour. Perhaps the relation of flour to fluids is different, I didn’t measure.

You can bake them with buttermilk as well if you like.

Winkworth Arboretum

The arboretum, in Surrey, is the vision of one Doctor Wilfred Fox. He envisaged and developed the arboretum, which he left to the National Trust.

They have been the care takers for 60 years. Currently they have over 1000 different trees and shrubs.

Every season will have it’s charm, but here are a few automn photos.

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Arundel Castle

We are in the South Downs in West Sussex, – South of England.

Arundel Castle
Arundel Castle
View of Cathedral from the Castle Gardens

Arundel is a small town and it seems the most interesting detail about the history is a rather silly argument about the origen of the name.

Probably from old English where it would mean the valley of the Eagle.

The river nearby is named the Arun and the earl is the earl of Arundel and the bishop is the bishop of Arundel (and Brighton thankfully.

So a town with a deep and interesting history.

The guy with the black jersey seems to take a very personal interest in keeping everybody clear of any possible entrance.

Security at the earl's entrance
Security at the earl’s entrance

They do have beautiful gardens and a chapel at the castle. One of those old English churches with huge windows and quite a wide nave. It gives a wonderful aspect and good light.

Gardens in late summer

Gardens in late summer
The Chapel
The Chapel

They grow sub tropical fruit in a glass house for the kitchen.

The town is down hill from the castle up to the river, where there is quite a bit of traffic as the sea is not far away.

Arundel town
Arundel town
Arundel town

The British are off course famous for their health and safety regulations. If they had to do the same in the Netherlands you wouldn’t be able to walk with all the warning signs!

Be very careful DEEP WATER

Himalyan Rock Crystal Salt and English Bay

If possible, I shower, but with my roving life I have to adapt to the circumstances of my location.

Currently I bath – in the turret of a castle overlooking the South Downs; which does make up a bit for having no shower I must admit.

As autumn is an the advent we have beautiful balmy days but the garden is losing its summer brightness. Some roses are still blooming and the Michaelmas daisies are flowering. After Michaelmas you must not pick brambles. The old wives tale is that the devil spit on their leaves. The modern version of this tale is that there may be micotoxins on the fruit due to a fungus that grows on the plants later in the season. Same story, different words.

Just yesterday I saw butterflies on the Michaelmas daisies. The gardener thought they were Red Emporors, but then was uncertain because they had orange and no red. But then the type seems like the Emperor, and there is another variety, but that is called the Peacock Emperor, which has green in it, he is sure. Must be Red Emperor then. Odd, his face says.

Also there is Lavender and Sage and lots of Melissa (which was handy for my cold, it has good anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, apparently effective against fever blisters).

Timeless and without much regard for the seasons a magnificent Cedar stands against the light. This morning I am touch typing so that I would not have to take my eyes off the beautiful expanse in front of me.

Did you know that Cedars have biorhythms, like us? Apparently when it is overcast, they sleep in! What sensible trees.

But back to business, the bathwater is already running. A pinch from a gift of Himalayan Rock Crystal Salt is already dissolving in the warm water. The towel rail is moved conveniently close to the bath. The gown is handy. All is ready

But I forgot something. A wanted Bay for my bath. Well there is nothing for it; I have to run down into the garden to collect a twig. Down the stairs and through the lounge out the kitchen door, over the bridge that leads past the fountain, squeeze past the roses to go down to the hedge of Bay.

I wonder if the Lady of the Castle knows of the old belief that Bay protects against witchcraft.

Does she know that Bay put under the running water of your bath will relieve sore muscles?

Just the one twig and crush it to let the essence out.

Whenever I feel bad for another living thing, as I do when crushing plants to get their essence out, I think of the Bushmen (San) of Africa. One of the few peoples on earth who didn’t destroy their habitat.

Realising that they have to eat and that this implies eating another living thing, they overcome this problem, not by refraining from nourishing themselves, but by giving thanks to the animal who gave its life so that they can eat. And when they leave a camp site, they give thanks for the place that gave them a home for a time.

Perhaps that is what it is to walk in grace.

So I lay back in the bath and think of the Himalayan Mountains where these crystals were formed who knows how long ago. Out of the rocks of a mountain formed when the earth collided.

The subtle scent of the Bay just enough to revive and connect to ages past.

Tomorrow I think I will put some Rose petals in the bath…