Sometimes the city can get all too much.

I love London, but I also appreciate the countryside. So many of us when we are young hate those country walks and forest strolls but as we grow older we really do realise just why our parents dragged us around fields and villages – because its just so pretty.

It was only really when I moved to London that I started to appreciate the countryside a little better.

The countryside holds a special place at the heart of English life and culture, and I always feel that if you visit England but only see London, you haven’t really seen England at all.

The countryside remains for most of us in Britain as an idyllic place, where we can relax and us Brits love to go to the country. For me, the countryside isn’t just areas full of history, nature and protected areas, but also all the little things: that pretty little village or old country pub that does a good, cheap pint.

So however damp and dismal the weather may be over Winter, don’t let it colour your own impressions of the countryside.

My hometown is in Kent, also known as the Garden of England. And it truly is. We’ve visited various areas throughout my childhood in Kent (and outside of it, too) and there are few places that remain favourites.

Teston isn’t far from my old hometown and it’s a small, quiet, yet beautiful place for a walk. The other weekend we got out our wellies and coats and marched off for the countryside.

Views are spectacular, it’s always a bit better when you know there’s a warm pub at the end, too…

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Staying in my hometown, Kent, has been the nicest way to spend the holidays and this Christmas. Although it has now come to an end and I am ready to head back into city lifestyle in London, I thought I’d post an appreciation post on the countryside near where I live.

Last week, we awoke to a chilly morning and decided to head into the countryside near Sevenoaks. After a short drive we found ourselves driving through green forestry, and we had arrived at Ightham Mote.

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A charming, medieval manor house and garden, it was like walking through an English fairytale. This is exactly what I love about the English countryside.

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Originally dating to around 1320, it is the most complete small medieval manor house in the country. We paid only £6 for entry to the building and the grounds, although it is free for all you National Trust members.

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So, if you’re in the South East of England (or near London) and thinking that there’s really nothing to do here – think again. Look up other places that are part of the National Trust – some places are truly amazing.

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It’s Christmas Eve and I’m finally relaxed and in a festive mood.

The other night I decided our house wasn’t Christmasy enough (well, I needed an excuse) and thought up a way to make it even more glittery and beautiful for only two pounds. I do love a bit of house DIY, and when it’s Christmas themed what could go wrong?!

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Salt Dough Ornaments are made simply by mixing one cup of plain flour with one cup of salt and water. By mixing these three you create a dough, and with this you can create any ornaments you want. Place in the oven on 100 degrees Celsius for three hours and voila!

I bought some glittery gold spray paint (for only a pound) to cover the ornaments when they were done and I was left with some pretty cute decorations. I didn’t pierce any holes in mine to hang on the tree, as I didn’t feel they were good enough to hang everywhere! However they would look lovely in a bowl or as a centrepiece or even to place on wrapping paper. (Some of my decs were a little wobbly, as I am no artist, but I like to call it “shabby chic”…..)

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Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! <3

 

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I couldn’t wait to move to London. But once I was there, and I started to have little visits home to family in Kent I also began to really, truly appreciate the countryside.

As a child, the countryside was dull and I craved city life (I still do!). But now, as I am older and able to explore a bit more, I can see how amazing it really is!

My top tips for discovering and really taking full advantage of all things country and British are:

Do something different. Something that may even be fairly ordinary in the countryside, but something that you rarely choose to do. The other week we decided we would go and rent a rowing boat and ride around the river all day. It was so nice and although the day wasn’t rammed full of lots of activities, it was enough to keep us entertained yet chilled out. We rented from Bodiam Boating Station   in Sussex and it was a great price – about £40 for 4 full hours.

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TIP 2: Get out into the sunshine. Make the most of the English sun whilst it is here! It is rare that we can spend time in the countryside here and actually feel the sun on our skin, so when it is out do not waste all day sat inside. There’s plenty to do, even on a budget. We decided on the first full sunny day here to go on a picnic. I bought a cute gingham picnic basket from T-K-Maxx and a checked blanked (essentials!) and filled it with yummy treats and drinks. Find a nice location – for us it was Leeds Castle in Kent – and you’re good to go and become oh so English.

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TIP 3: Be a tourist in your own hometown. This can apply to those living in the countryside OR the city. If someone from another culture were to visit you, where would you take them? Even the smallest of villages have impressive places. Be it beautiful buildings or breathtaking scenic routes; make sure you try them out for yourselves. Many of us leave the touristy things to the tourists themselves thinking we have “all of the time in the world” to see the nice things. But there is no time like the present! I recently revisited a favourite tourist spot in my old home county of Kent – the White Cliffs of Dover.

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TIP 4: Reacquaint yourself with family and friends. This may only apply to those who are returning to their hometowns after being away (like me!). But I feel it can be relevant to many of us so why not include it! Leaving a year ago made me realise who were my true friends, and unfortunately who were not. That is something that comes with growing up, however ever since I left I always made the effort to stay in contact. I still have friends at home that I meet up with for catch-ups and it feels as though nothing has changed, and I always make as much time as possible for my family. Not everyone will like that you have left but those who are true to you will be happy for you, and be the people whom you should make time for.

TIP 5: Find activities in your area. More often than not, even small towns have activities and attractions that you wouldn’t usually think of. For example, near my hometown is “Go Ape“. I went last summer and really enjoyed myself (apart from feeling like I had vertigo at the beginning!). Climbing through the woods and jumping from trees on harnesses – could you get any closer to nature?!

We also took a hike around the beautiful Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest.

 

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I hope that at least one of those tips above are useful for at least one of you. I know I rambled on, but it was far better than me spamming with a post on each and every place on this page!

Bethany x

p.s. apologies for that last photo (from Go Ape)… awkward action shot from behind…

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