a holiday postcard

Weathervane at the top of Sissinghurst Castle tower

We are halfway through our lovely holiday in East Sussex. The weather has been sublime, very hot and sunny, which apart from the sunburn is a real treat for us pale-skinned northerners. My bones feel warm for the first time in ages, especially since the last two summers were such a chilly wash-out.

Vita's sculpture of the vestal virgin underneath the weeping pear in the famous White Garden

Garden visiting has been high on our agenda. On a hot summer's day, what better activity is there than a leisurely stroll through beautiful borders, down little brick paths and across wild meadows, followed up by a visit to the tearoom for a lovely pot of tea and some scones with cream and jam?



Much inspired by the recent BBC programme and Adam Nicolson's excellent book, we made Sissinghurst Castle our first port of call. The ruins of the Elizabethan mansion surrounded by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson's gorgeous gardens are certainly very romantic and there is a wonderfully erudite atmosphere, but we were surprised to find the place seemed a little run-down and the toilets rather smelly. However, it did provide some lovely photos for this post, which is a good job as the next two days I forgot either the memory card or the battery or was too lazy to take any pictures...

As you begin the climb up the tower at Sissinghurst you come across these tiles on a windowsill. Vita's writing room was - and still is - halfway up. You can peep in and see her desk, books, pictures and rugs.

The very lovely White Garden

The second day we visited Great Dixter which we found a far superior experience and even though I had not expected to like Christopher Lloyd's exuberant planting, I found all the bright colours quite uplifting. The old house is beautiful and it is a far nicer place to visit, probably because it's independently run (ie not National Trust).


East Sussex is a very ancient and beautiful landscape. It is very wooded and has a very interesting history of farming, smuggling, ironworking and pannage (driving pigs into the woods to scoff acorns). Today we went on a delightful walk around our local area, down ancient holloways and sunken green lanes, across heath and streams and through coppiced woods to see a ruined priory and the earthworks of a medieval iron furnace. Plenty of cold pizza and kitkats were consumed and a large pot of tea was required on our return. Sadly no photos though, due to the aforementioned forgetfulness issues.

This is the candleabra at the bottom of Sissinghurst Tower instead...

The other lovely thing we have done is pay a visit to the very sweet, charming and creative Gigibird who made us delicious sandwiches and cake and took me for a walk to the beach to see the beautiful beach huts. We had a lovely afternoon chatting and looking at ribbons and fabric while Rory was packed off to see old aeroplanes. She and her friend Stella make the most gorgeous corsages and other desirable things which you can see on their Florence Hope blog.

There are still so many places to visit and if I remember my camera I will share them with you soon. Meanwhile, here's a photo of beautiful Mrs Duck who hatched her eleven ducklings on the pond the day after we arrived. They are unbelievably cute!

17 comments:

PG said...

Oh, I am glad you are having a good time! And visiting Gigibird too! I was born in Sussex but left when I was a baby, I always mean to visit, as it sounds like a lovely county.

Hens Teeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hens Teeth said...

Hi S,
Just commented and I really should proof read before publishing!

These gardens are high on my list of 'must visits', so I really enjoyed your take on these iconic places.
How lovely to meet our Lynn too.

cocoa and blankets said...

Oh it all looks wonderful we must take a trip sometime, the white garden inspired the white garen at yorkgate which I visited on your recomendation and it did cheer me up...I love your photographs...I am so glad you are having a lovely time ..you deserve it....Love H

blackbird said...

As wonderful as having a camera along with you on a vacation- it is quite freeing to just experience the moment and remember that.

Thank you for the photos that you did take- I love the Vita tiles and want to run my fingers across them. Enjoy the rest of your holiday and I'm off to visit Gigibird.

Frances said...

Every picture and every word just shows the power of a holiday. Going where you'd like to, seeing what and whom you'd like to. Relaxing, soaking up pleasant hours.

You've sent a fabulous postcard to us all! xo

Diane said...

Absolutely beautiful - I wish I was there. Ive put these places on my list of places to visit (without the kids list!)

Lyn said...

We did exactly the same last year on our holiday. One day Sissinghurst then the next Great Dixter and yes I was also impressed by Christopher Lloyds planting. The ducks are cute and I actually popped over to tell you I have awarded your blog an award. Pop over to pick it up and pass it on.
Love
Lyn
xxx

Tracy x said...

i feel homesick.....
i lived minutes away from Sissinghurst and we would walk talulla and bean around the woodland surrounding the gardens each Summer evening once the tourist had gone home......
lovely to see peeks of the wonderful place but i am saddened that the place seemed a little run down - it seems odd when the property generates a healthy sum each year!
Dixter is wonderful and holds a fantastic fair there each year which is well worth a visit x
keep enjoying my old haunts :)
t x

Sue said...

Thank you everybody and thanks Lyn for the award! :-)

Frances said...

Hello again Sue,

I have tagged you to join in yet another meme. Hoping that you will find it fun to catch the toss.

xo

Tina ♥ said...

Sounds like a wonderful holiday...the ducky photo is adorable...I love ducks! :)

theMuddledMarketPlace said...

lovely, lovely ducklings shot....

Gilly said...

You mean you have no photos of Great Dixter???!!!

Hadn't realised you could post here whilst away, so only just seen it all. Love the trough on brick legs!

g said...

What a wonderful visit.

Around My Kitchen Table said...

Those are truly lovely photographs. They made me want to jump in the car and go straight there!

Sue said...

Thanks so much everyone :-)