Tuesday, 3 May 2011

I Love Long Weekends in England

I don't know about you, but I could certainly get used to a four-day weekend. This allows us a couple of days to get some chores done round the house and most particularly at this time of year, the garden (ie. jungle), yet still leaves us a couple of days for fun without feeling guilty.

So on Saturday, my only brief to Mr HenHouse for our day trip was "somewhere I don't have to drive". Being the railway devotee he is, I was asking the right person!

He devised a route to take us right from our local station five minutes away, via East Croydon, to a little known station on the way to the coast, named Eridge.

We were lucky as it was such a beautiful day and arriving at our destination was like stepping back in time to a small country station.

We weren't staying in Eridge though. What had so appealed to Mr HH was that Eridge had recently linked up with a local preserved railway. It is now possible to get on a vintage train of the Spa Valley Railway at Eridge and ride through the lovely countryside to Tunbridge Wells.

Well indeed!

Everything got off to a good start with the jolly driver on a visiting Great Western Railway engine.

We savoured the views as the train took us through some pretty countryside, those traditional oast houses where the hops used to be dried, reminding us that we were in the garden of England: Kent.

Such a civilised way to travel. Mr HH even partook of tea, served in a proper china pot.

Upon arriving at the little station at Tunbridge Wells West, the boys perused the second hand book stalls whilst I was rather charmed by this dinky cinema showing old railway film.

Off into the town to explore then.

What a lovely place Tunbridge Wells is, no wonder it has Royal status. "The Pantiles" is a historic area filled with beautiful old shop fronts and as the weather was lovely, many folk were taking the opportunity to sit a while at little tables out on the pavements in the sunshine.

Mr HenHouse had a result when he spotted this sign!

A teeny tiny little vintage fair was taking place in the hotel. There was a table of pretty china...

..and interestingly for me, a lovely lady selling fabulous vintage dresses at very reasonable prices. I came away with two stunners, one from the 1940s and one from the 1950s. No more cakes for me!

Wandering on up the street after lunch, The Pantiles gives way to the High Street but this still has a lot of lovely individual shops. Tunbridge Wells is what one might call a select area and there were some fabulous jewellery shops with fabulous prices! Mr HH swiftly moved past those and we eventually found an old friend...

One day, I will get round to having a patchworked chair...

We had to dash back to the train, so I only had five minutes in Cath's shop but it's certainly a lovely one, with beautiful displays, as usual.

After a lovely day, the Gods were smiling on us, all our connections were caught and we were home in a flash. We will definitely be returning to Tunbridge Wells via this route as we did not have enough time to explore.

Now I know we were away for Easter, and I seem to recall I said something about no more cake, but you can't not have a Simnel cake once a year, can you?!

A fitting end to a great weekend.


  1. Oh what a lovely post sounds like you had a wonderful time. Lesley x

  2. What a great day out! I love Tunbridge Wells having spent a summer there working when I was 20. Lovely memories.

  3. A lovely day out. We must start to do some more day trips, haven't done any in such a long time, thank you for the reminder!

  4. No you can't not have a Simnel cake, I made one for Mothering Sunday and made cupcakes with the same mixture for Easter.
    Glad you all had a lovely time on the train - I'm envious, shouldn't be though, we have one at the bottom of the road, but ours doesn't stop at places with exciting shops!
    Julie xxxxxxx

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your day and photos with us. What a treasure Mr HH is!


  6. Oh, that looks lovely - the countryside and the cake! Lucky to come across some vintage stalls. The UK is great - when we get this kind of weather!

  7. it looks like a great weekend-lovely photos :)

  8. What a wonderful adventure :) looks like a fantastic way to spend the day. How lucky were you to stumble across a vintage fair? xx

  9. OMG! I am so excited for you to have had such a nice sunny trip, I look forward to seeing your country some day. HUGS MARY

  10. I really liked your photos. The country railway station view reminds me of Ravensbourne ( think that is how you spell it ) Beckenham Kent. Your husband may know if it is still there it was just like that quite a few years ago now ! Really enjoyed your post :)

  11. Such lovely photo's. I love traveling by train and the stations there is something so romantic to me about them i love to just sit and soak them up when waiting for changes etc. I would love to see the 2 dresses you brought what a lovely little fair. And the cake looks lovely hope you enjoyed it, dee x

  12. What a delightful trip! There are so many lovely little gems out there and reading blogs full of pretty photos like yours is a great way to discover them! I'm wondering if your dresses were still on the rail when you took the photo - which did you choose I wonder?

  13. For a moment I thought you were travelling with Monty Don! Looks like a great day out, lovely pics Hen, and as for the chair if anyone was going to be able to make one it is you!!
    T x

  14. Sure did enjoying "visiting" Tunbridge Wells with you! Photos lovely. What is a Simnel cake? I'm originally from Nottingham but don't remember that!

  15. What a fab little day trip Hen. Love the dresses - I am very envious! Hope we're going to see pics of them soon!

    Such a lovely line at Eridge. What a view with the oast houses, gorgeous. I'm getting rather giddy about the pans for the Churnet Valley line down the road. They're planning to repoen the line through to Leek and Stoke and next year some of the steamies will be running special trips through the area where I went to school. I remember looking wistfully at the derelict line that ran through the village and can't believe it going to reopen. Our boys might even be going to high school on the train which around here is unheard of.

    Anyway, must shoot off. Glad you liked the 40s weekend pics, it was great. Now crack on with the patchwork chair for me to ogle at!
    Keep enjoying the sunshine.

    P.S. Love your cake tin, I picked up the smaller "Sweets" version for £1 last summer, such a pretty thing.

  16. Such a lovely trip and your Simnel cake looks delicious!
    Rachel x

  17. I live about 25 miles from Royal Tunbridge Wells so you have inspired me to drive over there (or use the train!) on my next long weekend at the end of May. And being near my birthday I plan to buy something in the Cath Kidston shop :)

  18. I love Tunbridge Wells, particularly the bottom end of the town, where you were. You certainly need to come again to explore it further. Your photo of the rolling fields and oast house epitomises this part of Kent beautifully!

  19. What a gorgeous dayout! The Kent countryside is like something out of a period film. The driver of the train! Wonderful. I'm loving your cake tin in that last pic Hen, and the pretty tea pot, very impressive cake too. I'm with you on the four day weekend! Love Vanessa xxx

  20. Hen, your lovely trip down to Tunbridge Wells reminded me of my own only visit there, many years ago.

    I remember a beautiful Saturday, and an easy train ride down to TW. And then, on the return trip to London, I still remember meeting a handsome man on the train, who showed interest in me. Alas, I already had plans to meet some London friends, and so did not give him the response that I now wish I had done.

    Screenplay? Perhaps, but somehow that missed opportunity sort of keeps my Tunbridge Wells memories a bit warmer than they might otherwise have been.

  21. Oh, Hen, what a lovely trip! Your photos are gorgeous and that one photo of the fields in Kent made my heart go pitty-pat! I have longed to visit England for years and now my husband and I are talking about coming next spring or summer.I just sent him this post with the comment of "We must do this when we go to England!!!!" :)

  22. Thank you for taking us along on this wonderful weekend outing.......I had a great time!!! Loved the photos!!
    Chris :o)

  23. Hello Helen,
    I've popped this garland in my Etsy shop as I needed a new design in there, but I'm working on one for my little craft room too! So much to make, so little time!
    Have a lovely day!
    Rachel x

  24. What a perfect weekend!

    Victoria xx

  25. Gorgeous photo's of your day, it looks like a place I would definitely like to visit one day, Those dresses look lovely!! Which ones did you buy?! and as for the patchwork chair...brings tears to my eyes...... of happiness!! xx

  26. You certainly can't beat travelling by steam train, and Kent is so beautiful, it really looks like you have stepped back in time. My hubby lived near Tunbridge Wells and it really is a lovely place...I have grand designs on an Oast house one day!! Have a great week.
    Jo xx

  27. wow, what an interesting place, I love staem trains, my step dad used to drive them in Minehead and as a child would get to shovel the coal in the very hot cab. That cake looks so good!

  28. That's my idea of a wonderful day out too. Steam trains, tea, lovely landscapes and vintage shopping - what more could an old fashioned girl want?!

  29. My what a great time you had and lucky to find the vintage fair and get a few bargains too.

  30. Ohh I just love Tunbridge Wells, its my local shopping centre, I visit at least once a month. It was so good to see the photos of it on your blog, particularly the Pantiles, oh and Cath Kidston which I frequent ALOT!! LOL! Mandy x

  31. I will never get over how beautiful and interesting England is! And you always take the most interesting trips! Do we get to see your dresses? :) You should definitely have a patchwork chair! It suits you so well.

  32. Looks a great day out - i love Tunbridge Wells, is our closest main town, and cannot believe that I missed that little vintage fair!
    The CK store there is great!


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