30 Jun 2024

An Anniversary Weekend at The Pig



A statement I find hard to believe is true: it’s been five years since we got married. Ooof and what a five years. Honeymoon trip around America, buying a house, moving to a new area (those three all within the same five week period) pandemic, lockdowns, pregnancy, becoming parents to a sleepless child; I’m not sure there’s been much time for ‘wedded bliss’ or normality. But, hey, we have made it through still wanting to be married to each other and we were going to celebrate that. Just us two. AWAY FROM THE OFFSPRING. 

Forty-eight hours just us, temporarily living our absolute best lives at the luxurious Pig hotel, down in Kent. It was perfect. 

The Pig hotels have been on my bucket list for a long time now. If you’re unfamiliar, they are a small collection of hotels dotted about the country with an emphasis on local, homegrown food, comfort and indulgence. They are not cheap but damn, you get what you pay for. 

We headed to the Kent hotel, just outside of Canterbury, purely because it was the closest to us. I would have loved to have gone to the Dorset one which is basically on the beach, but this was the longest we had ever left Alfie so we a) wanted to make the most of the time and b) not be a four-hour drive away, just in case. (Ironically, we got stuck in hideous traffic on the way down and it took us four hours anyway but that obviously was not part of the plan.) 

An old school country manor house, beautifully decorated with woods and velvets and rich, moody colours, and full of lots of nooks and crannies. Absolutely nothing about it felt like a hotel. More like a collection of very cosy snugs where you could properly relax. Imagine a very rich person had invited you to come stay for the weekend and was a really extravagant host who would have been mortified if you were even momentarily peckish. The staff gave you the impression that you were joining them for the weekend; they seemed relaxed and chatty and yet never missed a detail. I’m always interested with how things work behind the scenes and found it fascinating to experience a team working so cohesively. Just little things like being wished happy anniversary casually by more than one person, as though they know you, and the realisation of the organisation that must go behind such small details to make you feel like you’re having a truly special experience. 

We stayed in one of their comfy luxe rooms with standalone bath, sage green panelled walls and beautiful countryside views. The team had also provided a card wishing us happy anniversary, freshly baked cookies and a beautiful wooden decoration with a ‘G & K’ carved into it. Such a lovely touch.

The Pig, Kent

The Pig, Kent

The Pig, Kent

The Pig, Kent

We’d arrived two hours later than planned, so had a very quick freshen up and then headed to the bar area which, at a guess, I’d have said was the drawing room once upon a time. There was an open fire, squashy sofas and mismatched chairs. I cannot emphasise enough how little it felt like you were in a bar or hotel, and more like you were in someone’s home. Gary had a local beer, I had a local wine and I kept squealing at how nice it all was. You know I did not play any of this cool. 


We had dinner reservations in the restaurant and, of course, the food was what I was most excited about. The restaurant was airier than the rest of the house, with large glass windows overlooking the gardens and grounds, and an open kitchen where you could see the chefs doing their thing in a way that felt homely. The connection to the kitchen garden seeped through in every aspect, from the shelves lined with huge jars of pickled goods, to the plant pots on the tables with real food growing in them (we had a brussels sprout plant). There was lots of greenery, wooden crates serving as furniture decor and a number of giant squashes in one corner. 

The Pig famously promises that at least 80% of the menu will be from within a 25 mile radius, meaning the menu can change daily. There’s even a map on the back of the menu, showing all their local suppliers and how far away they are. Even the small amount who were over 25 miles away were often only just; 27 miles for example. I also liked how the coasters and napkin rings were made out of old menus so even though new menus were being printed all the time, they were finding ways to re-use the paper. 

We began with a few ‘bits’ – wild garlic & pea houmous and honey & mustard chipolatas. Served alongside fresh sourdough, sprinkled with herb oil and smoked salt. A part of me could have just kept eating that sourdough and smoked salt, not going to lie. Starters were chargrilled ‘0 mile’ mushrooms with watercress and pickled rhubarb for Gary and boltardy beetroot with goat’s cheese and pumpkin seeds for me. Gary had the Tamworth pork loin for main, and I had the Broxhall Farm beef rump with peppercorn sauce. Not one single bite disappointed. Everything was delicious. I had been eyeing up the rice pudding for dessert (I can’t not order rice pudding if it's on the menu) but they had sadly run out by the time we got round the ordering. Gary joked to the waiter how I’d been looking forward to it all meal and within three minutes one of the managers came over and promised to reserve one for me tomorrow. How bloody lovely this place was. So, dessert was the strawberry blancmange with strawberries and oat crumble, and Gary went for the lemon balm choc ice with rhubarb. And, hey, that blancmange was exquisite. 

Afterwards, we rolled to bed and lay down to digest for the night before coming back for more.
  

The Pig, Kent

The Pig, Kent


Guys. *Lies down dramatically*. The breakfast table. I have never had a hotel breakfast as nice as this. Two huge tables, full to the brim of delights. Freshly baked sourdough, fresh, sugary cinnamon cruffins from a local bakery, The Pig’s own harvested honey, poached apricots, chunky fruit and nut granola (my personal highlight, can’t stop thinking about it), freshly baked carrot & poppy seed muffins and fig & walnut energy bars, gooseberry compote, earl grey prunes, yoghurts – both diary & vegan, aallll the preserves, hams, cheeses, an egg boiling station… and that’s what I can remember. It was breakfast heaven. 

When my belly resembled that of Winnie the Pooh, I headed off to The Potting Shed for my spa treatment. Cosy wooden rooms (fully heated), out in the gardens where you can lie on a heated massage table and try not to fall asleep. I had the ‘Upper Body Unwind’, which involved a back exfoliation, back, arm and hand massage followed by a facial and scalp massage. Dreamy. When I returned with a shiny face and oily hair, I found Gary in a comfy corner, fresh coffee beside him, reading the paper and looking like a man who was actually relaxed. 

Heaven forbid we should actually get hungry, so after a quick hop in the waterfall shower to de-oil myself, we decided to have lunch in the garden restaurant where you can sit in the heart of the walled kitchen garden and munch on flatbreads made on the wood-fired oven. Something special to be sat eating a mozzarella and spring onion flatbread and be sat right next to the spot where the spring onions were still in the ground that morning. We had a gentle explore of the garden; it was so interesting to see all the food they were growing. Amazing how much more interested in gardening I become when it’s all about food. 

And then, quite frankly, we spent the rest of the afternoon on the sofa. Shoes were off, someone brought me a hot chocolate and I had a whole two uninterrupted hours to read my book. The only reason I got up was because it was time, of course, for complimentary cake hour. Remember when going on holiday used to involve happy hour at the bar? I can absolutely confirm that this is much better. Honestly, I bloody love being in my thirties. 

The Pig, Kent

The Pig, Kent

The Pig, Kent

The Pig, Kent


After languishing in the large bath in our room (me) and lying on the bed listening to a podcast (Gary), we leisurely had another drink in the bar before going for dinner round two. We were very full the night before so decided to just stick with the ‘bits’ for starters this time. Three courses instead of four, gotta think of the waistline you know…. 


The menu had changed since the night before with additions such as ‘Folkstone market lion of Monkfish’ and I loved the idea that someone had popped to the market that morning. We want back in for the wild garlic & pea houmous along with crispy chard stalks (seen growing in the garden that afternoon) and hock eggs. I think I could have quite happily had a whole meal of these little plates; they were all so good and it felt like a great way of trying as much of the produce as possible. For main, Gary went for the monkfish and I had the hand rolled ricotta ravioli with sage butter. I got my rice pudding for dessert (served with homemade jam), and Gary tried the chocolate mousse, piled high in a lovely-looking moussey heap on a china plate. 

After-dinner drinks was, not going to lie, a cup of tea in the bar and then it was back to bed with my book. 

Sadly, parenting duties called in the morning so after indulging in the breakfast table again, sneakily taking a photo of the granola recipe in The Pig’s book (family members note – Christmas present idea for Kate), one last look around the kitchen garden and buying a jar of The Pig’s own honey, we were heading back home to our baby. Within a couple of hours, we were back changing nappies, playing with tractors and dealing with tantrums. I had missed him, but it was nice to escape reality, just for a little bit. Now, someone help me persuade Gary that we absolutely can afford to make this an annual trip… 

The Pig, Kent

The Pig, Kent

23 Jun 2024

One Minute Book Reviews: Spring Reads

Spring books

It's that time again. Spring passed in a rain-filled haze but hey, there were some good books. Let's delve in. 

Slug by Hollie McNish 

Not sure why it’s taken me so long to read this as I love Hollie McNish but it was definitely worth the wait. A gorgeous mix of poetry, essays and short stories all loosely based on the things we have been told to hate. I think everything Hollie says is just spot on, and so funny. I loved this. 5/5

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

An expansive novel that weaves together the lives of a 1950s vanished female aviator and a modern-day Hollywood starlet. This novel is a journey. We follow Marian’s entire life, and that of her twin brother Jamie, in incredible amounts of detail (several chapters are devoted to the story of her parents, before she’s even born). From her wild child days growing up in prohibition America to the glamour of wartime London, Marian is consumed by flight. Having become one of the most fearless flyers of her time, she sets out to be the first person to circumnavigate the globe from pole to pole. Half a century later, troubled actress Hadley Baxter is offered to play Marian in a film about her life which will lead her down a path of unexpected discovery. I can’t possibly unpick everything about this book in such a short review, but I found it extraordinary. I can see why it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. I’ll be honest, there were times where I flagged. It is long and extremely detailed. But by the end, I was so in awe of it, it couldn’t be anything other than five stars. 5/5

Lobster by Hollie McNish 

The companion piece to Slug, another brilliant collection of poems and essays around the theme of things we have been taught to hate and need to learn to love again. I gotta say, if you don’t consider yourself a poetry person, do check out Hollie McNish. I’m not big on poetry but her stuff is very readable and very funny/heartwarming. 4/5 

You Are Here by David Nicholls

A lovely, gentle story, beautifully written with such spot-on details. Marnie is stuck working alone in her London flat, often feeling like life is passing her by. Michael is reeling from his wife’s departure, taking himself on long walks across the moors and becoming increasingly reclusive. When a mutual friend and the English weather conspire to bring them together, they suddenly find themselves alone on an epic walk across the country. It could have been very formulaic, but this is David Nicholls so it’s brilliant. The witty, sharp dialogue is a particular highlight, as is the setting of the wild and bleak British countryside. 5/5

Funny Story by Emily Henry 

When Daphne’s fiancé leaves her for his childhood best friend just weeks before their wedding, she accidentally ends up rooming with the only person who could understand her situation: her ex-fiancé’s new fiancé’s ex-boyfriend. They are total opposites but united in their shared grief and after one tequila-fuelled evening, they form a plan which may or may not involve posting deliberately misleading photos of their adventures together. But their new ‘relationship’ is just an act of course…

This was my second Emily Henry novel and I’m learning that they are a lot of fun. Loveable characters, excellent banter, gorgeous summer rom-com settings. Basically, the perfect fun read. 4/5

The Lifeline by Libby Page

This novel can be read as a standalone story, but is technically a follow-up to the The Lido, Libby Page’s first novel which I really enjoyed. We re-join Kate five years later, now living in Somerset with a new baby and struggling with new motherhood. Living in the same town is Pheobe, a community mental health nurse, recently dumped and struggling with the demanding pressures of her job. They both discover their local wild swimming group and it kickstarts a journey to recovery for both of them. Libby Page’s novels are described as ‘hot buttered tea-and-toast’ fiction and I pick them up when that’s what I’m in the mood for. Even so, there was something about this one that felt a little too ‘twee’ for me, but it was gently enjoyable nonetheless. In particular, I thought the descriptions of early motherhood were written with the honesty only someone who has been through it could have and I think it could be very reassuring for a lot of people. 3/5 

The Mars House by Natasha Pulley

Within the first three pages of this book, the entire city of London floods and I thought, buckle up lads, this is gonna be a good’un. January Stirling is a climate refugee, shipped to Tharsis, the terraformed colony on Mars, after his city finally gives way to rising water levels. He goes from being a principle of the Royal Ballet to a second-class factory worker, unable to gain citizenship. As an ‘Earthstronger’, a person whose body is not adjusted to the lower gravity, he poses a physical threat to those born on, or naturalised to, Mars. When Aubrey Gale, a controversial politician who believes all Earthstrongers should be forced to naturalise – a process that is disabling and sometimes deadly – chooses January for an on-the-spot press interview at a factory visit, it lands January in prison and Aubrey in the middle of a media storm ahead of the election. A made-for-the-press arranged marriage is proposed as a solution to January’s citizenship and Gale’s political success, kickstarting a story about politics, refugees, old mysteries and love across class divisions. Something I thought was done particularly well was that the character of Aubrey, and all those born on Mars, are gender neutral and it’s totally irrelevant to how well you can visualise (and fall in love with) the characters. It was a lesson in challenging your own subconscious bias and I liked it. I also loved how the (slightly terrifying) environment, politics and technology of the future felt very plausible. The plot was a little loose so perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved the world building and the gentle love story and would have happily meandered along in that world for another 400 pages. 4.5/5

Happy reading folks x 

 

13 Jun 2024

May Journal | Surviving or Thriving

May journal

 I had this moment in May, where I thought that I might actually be ‘thriving’ (as the Instagram kids say) instead of just ‘surviving’ for the first time in, ooo, about four years. 

A lot of the time, parenting a small child can feel like simply surviving. I never feel on top of anything; my standards for what is generally acceptable are a lot lower these days. Is my child alive? Excellent, we’re not doing too bad here lads; is the approach I am going for. 

(Except I’m not, not really. That’s what I tell myself but I really would like my child to also be in beautifully clean matching outfits from independent brands, playing with wooden toys, eating kale etc. But he’s actually wearing a second-hand Next t-shirt with marks on it, playing with his plastic tractor, shovelling pasta in his mouth and physically recoiling from me should I happen to put a vegetable in his vicinity. Hence why I’m going for the low standards approach.) 

But in that moment, the sun was shining, I felt positive about work for the first time in ages – the dramas finally over – Alfie was being very cute, I was actually being a half decent, super patient mother and I thought, hey look at us! 

Naturally, that afternoon, Alfie came down with the chicken pox. It was like the universe was saying, nah ah hun, don’t go getting too big for your boots. My thriving moment was gone and we were juggling childcare, spot counting and waterboarding the poor kid with Piriton for the best part of a week. 

But then, miraculously, he was better in time for our five-year wedding anniversary and we were able to go away childfree for 48 hours and live our best life in a luxury hotel. 

Feels like I’m getting whiplash as we ricochet between the highs and lows over here.* 


Moments 

The glorious sunny weather at the beginning of the month, blue skies and the smell of suncream. Was that the extent of summer or…? 

Sat down by the trainline watching the ‘choo choos’, tractors and ‘hows’ (Alfie’s word for cows). 

Alfie insisting on watering the garden every day. 

The roses in our garden bursting into bloom. 

Fresh asparagus on the table, growing in my garden half an hour previously.

Baking with Alfie. 

A London wedding, complete with London bus, doughnut tower, quizzes and really nice people. 

Out early on a Saturday morning, eating pastries on a bench by the cathedral. 

It’s peony season people! 

My sister’s birthday meal. 

Wedding cake baking practicing. 

Re-watching our wedding speeches for the first time in five years. 

A double rainbow.


*A caveat that this is obviously all tongue in cheek and I know we are so very lucky. I found this to be a useful article about charities having an impact on the ground in Gaza if you’re looking to donate somewhere meaningful.


23 May 2024

Three Low-Key London Hen Do Ideas

London hen do

Basically, for the last few months, a job interview and a hen do have been taking up most of my headspace. I don’t have much else to talk about. And I assume you’re not that bothered about hearing about my interview prep? 

My sister is getting married in the near future, and when she asked me to organise her hen do, the brief was essentially – one afternoon/evening, central London, low key, not too expensive. My final plan was: three activities in the afternoon and then dinner & drinks in the evening. 

We had a mix of people, and I am loathe to force people out of their comfort zones or push too much organised ‘fun’ because I have been there, done that and did not enjoy the t-shirt. (Just to give you an idea of how low my tolerance is, my blood runs cold when someone suggests we play a board game, much to the exasperation of some of my friends.) So, making sure my sister had the best time and appealing to everyone else as much as possible were my main priorities. Here’s what we got up to:

Afternoon Tea @ Brigit’s Bakery, Covent Garden 

I gotta say, I had medium expectations for Brigit’s Bakery and found myself happily surprised. My main reason for settling on this spot for afternoon tea was it was the only place I found that ticked all my criteria: central location, decent vegan options and a private space that did not cost a fortune (it actually didn’t cost anything extra in fact, we just had to pay a 50% deposit up front). I was a little worried it was going to be too touristy – one of their main attractions is that they do afternoon tea tours on London buses – but their main bakery only really hints at this. Our private space was tucked away downstairs, simple but cosy, and allowed us to have our own area so I could decorate the table with funny photos of my sister (she did not thank me for this) and play a couple of bridal-themed quizzes (I was not expecting the levels of competitiveness that emerged!) without disturbing anyone else. 

Also, I was pretty impressed with the food itself. I have had a lot of overpriced and disappointing afternoon teas in recent years; the amount of places that serve you two dry sandwiches, two boring cakes and then, weirdly, about five scones and then charge you half your monthly wage for the privilege…  but anyway, that’s a rant for another day. The point is, this wasn’t like that at all. It was tasty and interesting and actually had some variety. I liked that there was more savoury options than the usual cucumber sandwich, including a salmon pretzel roll, mini quiche and a feta & red pepper muffin. Sweets included a Biscoff choux, chocolate & pistachio tart and lemon sable. Also, the scone came out as a separate course and was the perfect little size after eating all the above. It was just all really good. 


London hen do

London hen do

London hen do

London hen do

London hen do


Candle Making Workshop @ Yougi, Shoreditch 

This was just too cute, and I would highly recommend as an easy crafty group activity that can appeal to anyone, even if they are not a crafty person. Obviously, my main motivation behind this was because my sister really likes candles, but I also felt it would be a relatively easy win because I predicted most people in the group would probably be more than happy to go home with a new candle. The space was very zen; it smelt amazing, the host was friendly and informative and we were all served little cups of peppermint tea on arrival. 

It turns out making candles is surprisingly easy? It was fun smelling all the aromatherapy oils and seeing the difference in everyone’s sense of smell. We each got to mix the wax with our chosen oils and pour our own candles, and then take them home with us. It was a cute and relaxing activity and worked for everyone – even if it wasn’t someone’s natural first choice, everyone could take part easily. 


Electric Shuffleboard @ London Bridge 

So I had never done electric shuffleboard before and, quite frankly, couldn’t really tell you what it involved even as I booked it but my sister had mentioned really enjoying it in the past and it looked like a game that everyone could enjoy without it being high pressured. I was right; even I can get on board with electric shuffleboard. It’s low-key, you can play it whilst still holding a glass of prosecco and discussing Baby Reindeer, and it easily gets people bonding and having a laugh. I would definitely go back. 


Our evening was dinner, drinks at a rooftop bar, a game of bride or groom (including masks of their faces which sufficiently freaked my sister out) and then I left where they went onto next up to the more youthful members of the party because I was happily tucked up in my Premier Inn hotel room by 11pm obvs. Oh how times have changed (hangovers with a toddler are just not worth it and every parent knows it). 


15 May 2024

April Journal | Hen Dos & Interviews

April journal


Hen dos and interviews is a pretty accurate summary of the last month. The last four months, really. It’s a long story that I’m not going to bore you with - I’ve known that there was an interview looming on the horizon since January, the outcome of which would decide whether I either received a promotion or lost my job. Extreme ends of the scale no? I also had my sister’s hen do – which I was organising – on the horizon. Obviously, a hen do is very much the opposite of an interview but there’s no denying that organising one has its stresses. So, of course, of course, interview & hen ended up being the same week. I actually found out the outcome of the interview the day before the hen, so let’s be grateful it was a positive one because I’m not sure bride’s-sister-lost-her-job-yesterday would have been the best of hen do themes. 

I expected to be on some kind of high at the end of that weekend – promotion at work, successfully-organised hen do, no longer having to lie awake at night wondering how we would pay the mortgage should I lose my job etc. But, in truth, I just felt very, very tired (probably not helped by the 4am wake-up’s Alfie had been treating us to). For the last couple of weeks, I have still woken up with a heavy feeling of stress sitting in my belly and have repeatedly had to catch myself and remember that there is no need for it anymore. I can only assume that after four months of worrying, it was going to take longer than one day for my body to catch up with my brain. 

(Either that or it was purely a result of watching Baby Reindeer which was far more stressful an experience than preparing for an interview and planning a hen do combined, quite frankly. Have you watched it? Can we discuss?

Anyway, I’m getting there now. Perhaps not on a high, but the ball of stress that has been residing in my belly is dissipating. The sun has finally appeared, we have booked a summer holiday and everything is feeling just that little bit brighter. Here’s hoping it continues. 


Moments 

A night out in Cambridge for Gary’s birthday. 

Blossom on the trees, giving the illusion Spring had arrived, even if the temperature suggested otherwise. 

Alfie coming home from nursery with his fringe in a ponytail because he was absolutely not missing out on playing hairdressers. 

Alfie ‘counting’: his fingers, his cars, before he throws himself backwards on the bed. He only knows about three numbers but that ain’t stopping him. 

Alfie calling vehicles by their ‘sounds’ – trains are ‘choo choos’, cars are ‘ne-naws’ and planes are ‘neeeeaows’. The exception being lorry’s – ‘loddys’ and buses – ‘ba’. Toddler languages are so bloody cute, I will be devastated when choo choos one day just become ‘trains’. 

The annual family party, 20+ of us including several little ones, an excitable dog and a hell of a lot of easter chocolate. 

Going into London to meet my friend’s new baby (me broody? Dunno what you mean…) and having a good catch-up at a very tasty newly-opened waffle place – would recommend

Bright pink jumpsuits (‘you look like a children’s TV presenter’ – my mum). 

Asking my sister’s fiancé if he had any funny photos of her and the sheer number of priceless gems he sent through. 

The Shard lit up on a foggy night.  

The view when walking across London Bridge. 

Not losing my job! 

A pay rise!
 

Hen do!


Further reading


Come with us to a glass house on Camber Sands.  



1 May 2024

Come With Us To A Glass House On Camber Sands

 Sea Gem, Camber Sands

I am about to reveal my age here, but have you ever watched Extraordinary Escapes with Sandi Toskvig? If not, and you also have a penchant for property programmes, I would highly recommend. It’s basically women (often older women which is really refreshing to see) going on mini breaks in really incredible houses. It’s wholesome and heartwarming, and the houses are always drool-worthy. 

All of this to say: we went and stayed in one of the houses and I think it has ruined all future holidays for me because I doubt I will ever have the budget required for such good accommodation. 

Sea Gem in Camber is literally on the beach. And what a beach. The house is mostly made of glass with the most spectacular views from nearly every room. I believe the architect designed it to feel a bit like you’re on a ship and when the tide was in, I really felt this. Stood back from the windows, the view would be pure sea and it was easy to convince yourself you were floating out in the water. 

Sea Gem, Camber Sands

Sea Gem, Camber Sands


When the tide was out, the beach stretched out for miles and miles. It was wild and expansive and gave you the sensation of being a long way from civilisation; I found it very soothing. It helped me switch off which is something I have struggled to do on holiday since becoming a parent. It was a reminder that nature and landscape can make a real difference in feeling whether you have ‘got away’ or not. Of course, being away with a toddler is still hard work; you still gotta change nappies and battle through nap times and have limited periods to sit down but, this was the first time I felt like Alfie was having a holiday as well and that was really lovely. He loved the beach and could have quite happily spent all day kicking a football around or throwing stones into the water. By the end of the week, he tottered off in his wellies onto the beach by himself if you didn’t keep an eye on him. And he loved having all the space the house had to offer – in particularly, the giant sofa which made a great running ground for his tractor selection. On our last day, we literally had to drag him away from the house kicking and screaming because he did not understand why we could no longer go in. I think in his little toddler brain, he just thought that’s where we lived now. 

Sadly, that wasn’t the case, but for one week I was very content to sit in bed with sea views, to have an enormous, nearly-empty beach as our garden/playground, to roast marshmallows in the firepit, to watch glorious sunsets, to lie in bed at night and listen to the wind whipping around the house, and imagine the tide creeping up to the window (not far off to be honest!). I even went for a run along that huge, empty beach, despite a problematic ankle, because it was too tempting not to. I’m pretty sure if that was on my doorstep, I’d run all the time. It was also just really nice to spend an extended period of time with my family, people we normally can only see for short weekends. To watch them spend day-to-day quality time with Alfie. (Although I think everyone would have happily spared the sight of him continually dipping garlic bread into his water whilst trying to eat.)  

I’ll be honest, Camber itself did not come across as a particularly inviting or friendly place (shout out to the pub that had a very passive aggressive sign on its door saying that children under five were not welcome, ‘no not even in the garden’) but we were there for the house and the beach, and if we did want to head out, Rye was only five miles down the road with its cobbled streets, old buildings and cute independent businesses (all of which were much more welcoming to Alfie). 

Sea Gem, Camber Sands

Sea Gem, Camber Sands

Sea Gem, Camber Sands


Here’s what I like to do when exploring a new place (admittedly a certain kind of place): find a bakery, find a bookshop, find a chocolate shop and find a decent brunch spot. Rye ticked all of those boxes and it ticked them well. I think the bookshop is technically owned by Waterstones but it very much gave off independent vibes, and the chocolate shop had a very impressive range of flavours (I came away with one bar of roasted hazelnut and one of grey sea salt)

We had brunch at The Whitehouse three times (would recommend their pancakes or their fancy bacon roll) and inevitably fell into their bakery on the way out (the enormous banana muffins were so good). Would also highly recommend The Fig, although the menu was less child-friendly (unless your child eats vegetables, in which case, please tell me your secrets). Their veggie tacos were worth the visit though. Rye also turned out to be the location of the first ever Knoop, so it felt rude not to grab one of their delicious hot chocolates. There was likely a lot more history to the place, but I’ve accepted that trying to do anything cultured with a two-year-old is the definition of madness. Accept you can’t go in the castle and take him to eat pancakes. Everyone will be happier. 

It was March so the weather was changable but it really didn’t matter. Contrary to popular opinion, I think a beach is actually better when the weather is a bit mixed and there is no way the views in that house could be anything short of spectacular, regardless of whether it rained or shined. 

All in all, a lovely holiday. If someone could lend me the money to stay in places like this all the time, that'd be great.