Kentish Kindness by the Dingley Dell

Ever since Hayley’s first visit to the Emerald Isle, she had been most insistent that I make a return visit – and I didn’t need much persuading. So last Monday saw me arriving at Gatwick and as I  headed towards the exit I could see, in the distance, a small blond person, bouncing up and down and waving manically. Soon we were locked in the customary hug and talking 19 to the dozen. It had been 5 months since our last meeting – it felt like 5 minutes.

Off we set to collect the car and from there off to Wisley, “it’s only up the road from here” she says. I had never visited Wisley before and what a treat it turned out to be, despite being early in the year, there were beautiful plants, flowers, trees and views everywhere we looked. The sun shone on us the whole afternoon as we wandered around, chatted and laughed – copious amounts of the latter two.

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Magnolia everywhere.

Magnolia everywhere.

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Loved the Sculptures at Wisley

Loved the Sculptures at Wisley



Leaving Wisley we headed for Hayley’s beautiful home and garden where we were warmly greeted by Philip and Tom, two delightful young men, though thankfully Tom has learned a little more decorum than Philip. A delicious lamb stew appeared from the aga, carefully organised the night before. Later on that evening H’s OH made it home, what a lovely man, as you could guess. Here in NI we have no idea of the difficulty of commuting in and out of London, poor J leaves for work in the early hours of the morning and doesn’t get home till late. I hope to see a little more of him the next time I visit.

The next morning “Walkies” with Philip, through fields dotted with jewelled wild flowers, before setting off to pick up Hayley’s sister, Bev and then visit Iris, H’s Mum. Well, what can I say. I have been trying to find the right word for the way Hayley and her lovely family can make you feel. There isn’t one, the nearest I can get to it is “being lovelied”, think of being called “My lovely” and then multiply the feeling that gives you by 100. When Hayley and her sister are together you get it in stereo, and they both get the ability from their Mum. What a wonderful wee lady she is, she may not have the memory she once had, but when she smiles the world is a much brighter place and if you are really lucky she will sing to you. It was a magical visit, with a very special lady.

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After our visit with Iris we had lunch in a delightful pub and then said goodbye to Bev before squeezing in a quick visit to Sissinghurst gardens. Created in the 1930 by  Vita Sackville-West, they are now owned and maintained by the National Trust. What a brilliant place, and even though the weather wasn’t the kindest I thoroughly enjoyed it.  However, just before we left we went to the top of the tower to look out and the sun came out, bathing everything in a beautiful warm evening glow.

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We were both fascinated by this way of training roses.

The lime walk.

The lime walk.

Glorious late sunshine

Glorious late sunshine

Home again and Tom set about making us dinner, not just a lovely young man but he cooks. And boy can he cook! Chicken fajitas with all the trimmings, yummy. H and I helped him by sampling the wine.

Wednesday morning and Hayley’s son is back in the kitchen, Irish breakfasts are famous, however the breakfasts that Tom set down in front of us that morning were superb. Did we clear those plates? Course we did. Thank you Tom, you are a star.

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A bit of gardening followed, first in the “dell”, a magical area of Hayley’s garden, where a pond leads on to a long slope of trees and woodland plants dappled with light. Such a special place. Then we got her early spuds planted – YEA!

The Dingley Dell

The Dingley Dell

Complete with fairy house.

Complete with fairy house.

Off we went again in the afternoon passing wonderful open vistas of Kent countryside, with windmills and oast houses dotted about. Our destination was Rye, another first for me. Such a picturesque little town, full of cobbled streets, historic buildings and at least one very impressive wisteria. A good place to pick up some fresh fish for dinner was Hayley’s additional comment!


Picturesque Rye

Picturesque Rye



There is something very magical about spending days out with a good friend and coming home to good food, good company, a glass of wine (or three) and then solving the problems of the universe in animated discussion. That is what H, Tom and I did on Wednesday evening, a great night’s “craic”.

My last day dawned, and a visit to a wood was on the cards for “walkies” with Philip. Woodland areas are among my favourite places and this one was gorgeous. Hayley had not visited it for some time and it was heartbreaking to see some of the damage that the mini tornado had done earlier in the year. However, I am glad to say most of it was untouched, as you can see.

Some of the damage caused by the mini tornado.

Some of the damage caused by the mini tornado.


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All too soon it was time for us to get back though that was nearly a problem, but I promised Hayley I wouldn’t mention her getting us lost in the woods – so I won’t.

Sadly my time in Kent was at an end, though at least it would only be a short time until Cardiff when I would see my wee clicker pal again – along with loads of other clickers. I came away with a heart full of happy memories, of Kent, of a very special lady and of her wonderful family. Thank you H.

36 Responses

  1. cilla says:

    I feel a bit choked reading that Karen. What a lovely time you had with Hayley and her chefing son……how good is that? :good: Kent does look a beautiful county and lucky you going to Wisley and Sissinghurst, great photos. That looks my kind of wood, just love woods. So pleased you girls had a great time and sooo looking forward to meeting you both and all the other online friends. Not long now. :yahoo:

  2. gertie says:

    Lovely, just lovely Karen, and Hayley and Family too…..a super read of a super vacation :heart: :rose:

  3. Bill says:

    Lovely to see and read about “my part of the world”, visited Sissinghurst every day for nearly 30 years as we used to have our lunch there, three minutes from my office. Nice to see Hayley set up such a great programme for you. :good:

  4. Yewbarrow says:

    Glad you had a great visit Karen, Kent is a lovely county, especially at this time of the year, Wisley is great, grew up not a million miles from there – what a joy to meet with friends who share the love of gardening so much

  5. Hayley says:

    It was our complete pleasure to welcome you here Karen and thank you for your kind words. You are such an easy person to be with, going with the flow and just fitting in everywhere, equally at ease whilst ‘lost’ in the woods too ;-) I have a few more things lined up already for your return :rose: :heart: but in the meantime, Cardiff here we come! :yahoo:

  6. shedsue says:

    Just a magical time then K :good: ..Well it had to be..Hayley, (and Tom) are lovely people to be around :heart: …A great blog, and thanks for sharing your time in Kent :yes:

  7. Beanstew says:

    I’m really impressed by how much you both managed to fit into a few days, especially as I thought one of you was convalescent! I had imagined some days of cossetting, beef tea, gentle walks and lemon drizzle cake – not a whirlwind of activity – but worth it for all these pics. I wonder what kind of grass Hayley was standing under – it would certainly make next door’s cortaderia look puny. Glad you photographed the euphorbia wulfenii at Wisley too – I have a clump of it which is glorious, and all self-seeded. And really glad you have described so well, just how charming and welcoming Hayley and her family are – “being lovelied” covers it just perfectly.

    • VegVamp says:

      Managed the Lemon drizzle too Sheila :yes: :rose: She was standing under bamboo at Wisley, is that the one? Think anyone that has met H and her family will instantly recognise “being lovelied” :yes:

  8. Allan says:

    What more can I say,? Glad you both had such a great time,

  9. A lovely time had by all I think :yes:
    A great blog&pics Karen, loved the dingley dell&woodland pics, can almost smell the primroses :good: :-)

  10. karenp says:

    what a lovely blog and i could feel the lovelied coming right out from it too, love that little fairy house in the tree :yes: and impressed with that bamboo WOW what a whopper !!!! :-)

  11. dixon says:

    Lovely blog Karen, looks like a great time for all in the garden of England. :good:

  12. bizzylizzy says:

    sound’s like you two have had a whale of a time :yes: , great shots as well :good:

  13. blueclematis says:

    I really enjoyed reading of your holiday and so glad you al had a lovely time :yahoo:

  14. A lovely blog, Karen – fab that you could get to H’s place and have such a lovely time :-) :-)

  15. wjarnock says:

    Absolutely loveley blog :good:

    Blogvley xx

  16. Veggiepatch says:

    Just read y0ur beautiful bl0g, thank y0u f0r sharing it with us. The w00ds and the little br00k and the little bridge remind me very much 0f the childh00d w00ds I expl0red when I was a kid with my br0ther, parents and the family d0g.

    I really felt I was with y0u sharing y0ur l0vely h0liday, and really didn’t want y0ur bl0g t0 end just as y0u didn’t want y0ur h0liday t0 end.

    Thank y0u f0r taking the time t0 share it and sh0wing us the l0vely ph0t0s.


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