( Dog & Bear Hotel )
It’s some years since I have been able to enjoy the English countryside but a few days in Lenham, Kent reminded me of just how special it is to enjoy the hedgerows, quaint villages and lovely people...and at this time of year, strawberries, raspberries and cherries. I was there to attend a family wedding on a huge estate, complete with its own stunning little chapel and beautiful manor house. Truly a dream setting.
Many of the wedding guests were booked into the historic Dog and Bear hotel. After a couple of hectic days in London, and with the jetlag banished, the Aussie contingent settled into the hotel’s courtyard and commenced an impressive reduction of the bar’s champagne stocks.
The couple of days before the wedding were spent exploring the region by foot, car and train. The weather was Aussie hot and we were all surprised by the lack of rain. The morning of the wedding broke with a brilliant, blue sky and knowing that it was going to be a long day I took a quiet, meandering walk, soaking up the local flavour of the old cemetery and fields behind the church.
The wedding was traditionally English and at the same time very relaxed, I’m sure due to exhaustive planning. Following the ceremony the traditional “breakfast” was held in a beautifully decorated marquee. A cold buffet complemented the very hot weather perfectly, and the dancing didn’t start until the temperature was at a reasonable level. I was seated at a table with the godparents of the bride and other close family friends. It was fascinating to soak up the cultural mores of the “locals”, their traditional manners, and conversations about all things rural. All in all a fabulous celebration for a wonderful couple.
The following day, the village square hosted the monthly market. I was absolutely in heaven. Not only did I manage to find a lovely, local watercolour painting but I feasted on local pheasant pate and bread with organic apple juice from a nearby farm, all of which assisted enormously in reducing the after effects of the previous night’s enjoyment.
And then it was back to the bride’s family home for a long, languid and rather liquid lunch before departing for Heathrow to begin my journey to Europe.