I’m back playing author of my imaginary “I-Spy in Kent” book. I’d say there are two positives with my version of this I-Spy book. It’s a slim volume, with only 10 points to check off, so a mighty quick activity. And secondly, you can sit down with a cup of tea, wherever you are and tick off the list, just by looking at the photos.
I’ve left out the sights that can be spotted in most areas of the UK, such as road signs and petrol stations. I’m focusing on more of the features that make Kent stand out. Like last time.
With no further ado, I present items 4 to 10:
Fourth item on I-Spy list
I’m going to jump straight in with the fourth item on my list, although this one was top of the children’s list when they were doing their research before we headed to Kent this summer.
I-Spy The Shell Grotto in Margate. tick.
This is an unusual one. No-one knows who built it, or why, or when. There is even questions about how. It was discovered in 1835 when the owners of the land above it, dug a slightly deeper duck pond than they intended. They discovered underground tunnels, lined with carefully arranged sea shells. There was no local knowledge of the tunnels or their creators.
Who doesn’t like a mystery? Especially one made of shells and with such wonderful patterns.
Fifth item on I-Spy list
I-Spy a different type of terrain. tick.
We live in a hilly area. A walk anywhere usually involves going up hill or down hill. The two closest cities – Bristol and Bath are built on hills. Surrounding area has hills. Even our Somerset Levels have hills dotted around them. It’s not all hills, but if you stand on flat ground, there is always a hill on the horizon. Great for the calf muscles.
Kent, in contrast is flat. Turn 360 degrees and not a hill in sight. The horizon is a long way away, all the time. We had a bit of cycling envy. Although strangely, we encountered far fewer cyclists than we do at home.
Sixth item on I-Spy list
I-Spy Whitstable. tick.
In all fairness Whitstable has two sub categories: sea defences and seafood, but it is such a pretty seaide town, that I think it deserved its own entry in my I-Spy book.
Seventh item on I-Spy list
I-Spy seafood. tick.
OK. This one is a slight indulgence on my part. I love seafood. A holiday would not be complete unless we went to the coast and had at least one seafood meal. Whitstable seafront is made up of places to sit outside, admire the seaview and eat oysters or other shellfish to your hearts content. My kind of heaven.
Of course, with shellfish comes the inevitable left over shells. Love how the seagulls were optimistically pecking through them, searching for easy pickings. I wonder how long it took to make a pile of shells this big. What do they do with them?
Eighth item on I-Spy list
I-Spy sea defences. tick.
I thought the groynes at Whitstable were impressive. Certainly stimulated some discussion about why they were there, as we strode over them, and what would we see if they weren’t in place. Would the beach be swept away?
We have groynes on the beaches in other areas of the UK too, so these were not special to Kent. At this point you may wonder why I was including them in my I-Spy book about Kent. Good question.
The groynes stimulated more discussion about sea defences. We had been talking about sea level and how it could rise. Areas that are low lying like Kent are at risk, in the next few decades, of being flooded. Maybe more of a “what can I not spy?” in the future.
Ninth item on I-Spy list
I-Spy cinque ports. tick.
In contrast, there are many signs of how the land has been reclaimed over the centuries. An interesting example was how previously thriving and busy cinque ports are now much further in land. We went to Sandwich and Fordwich. At Fordwich, we had lunch at the George and Dragon, which I can thoroughly recommend.
Fordwich is reputed to be the smallest town in Britain. Before the river silted up, it was the main port for Canturbury, which we would never have guessed looking at it. Being so far in land.
Makes for a beautiful river side walk. We watched a young grass snake swim across to the other shore. Hard to imagine this quiet stretch busy with boats.
Tenth item on I-Spy list
I-Spy a lighthouse. tick.
The view was not clear enough to see France. In fact, we were there the same day that further down the coast they evacuated beach goers after a chemical haze rolled in to Birling Gap, which caused eye and skin irritation.
We were lucky. We just couldn’t see France.
We took a picnic and walked to the South Foreland lighthouse. Absolutely beautiful. White cliffs. Blue sky and butterflies. Discussion about cliff errosion and how light chalk feels, but mainly a lovely family picnic.
Here ends my never-to-be published, slim volume of I-Spy in Kent. (Volume One is here, and in retrospect, is slighty thinner than this part.) It made a change from our usual mountain-themed holidays. Hopefully the children will appreciate another part of our wonderful country and see how different it is from home.
If you have made it this far, thank you. You probably deserve a medal. Or maybe an I-Spy badge. Erm, well. Sorry. Blew the (slim) budget on the seafood sampling in Whitstable. Pure research, I’m sure you understand.