Penshurst Place

Penshurst Place is one the finest manor houses in England; it sits in the heart of the Weald at the confluence of the Rivers Medway and Eden, surrounded by wooded hills and ridges. On a fine autumn day, the house and the grounds look like something out of an 18th or 19th century painting.

Autumn at Chalk Cottage

The sun is out at lunchtime lighting up the hedgerows; the autumn insects are feeding on the abundant ivy and there is a surprising diversity of wasps, flies and hoverflies. In the evening, the lanes are in deep shadow but the sun hangs bright low over the downs until a huge grey cloud inches across…

A little bit of Broadstairs

17th and 18th October A grey Saturday is followed by a bright morning. The last swallows and sand martins are chasing up and down the cliffsides; rock pipits are on the beach and sea walls. A flock of linnets feed on the weedy flora above us. A huge dog chases a small flock of turnstones…

The Thames Estuary at Cliffe

The now familiar walk across the flat grazing marshes from Higham Church passes a herd of ewes with a busy ram that pursues his next conquest with single-minded determination. A flock of goldfinches sit in the boundary hawthorns and small charms fly into the acres of seeded thistles in the adjacent field. In the distance,…

Blackwater tides

On a bright day the high tide has flooded the saltmarshes, the wind is quiet and the waterbirds wait for the water to drop; a black-headed gull finds the tip of a rock and claims it, waits and then finally drops on to the exposed causeway to Northey Island. Turnstones arrive and work the seaweed-covered…

By Tom Loft’s Wood

The walk from Great Buckland runs across a wide valley called the Bowling Alley up through vineyards and chalk grasslands with a view of the ancient woodlands that make up part of Rochester Forest, past a mob of rooks and jackdaws that sit in the top of Tom Loft’s Wood and descend to forage in…

The middle ground

The last evening and the water meadows of the River Tude are lit by bright shafts of sunlight against the backdrop of a gathering storm. The poplars lean to the east in the freshening wind; too slender to be bowed. The great storm clouds drift slowly closer but instead of enveloping us, steer to the…

The last hurrah

The song from the woods is gone; nuthatches and woodpeckers still occasionally sound off but the small woodland birds now rove in chattering flocks. Migrating and local turtle doves are feeding in the sunflower fields but scatter on approach, unsurprising as they are a favourite quarry hereabouts. A young buzzard mews persistently and will remain…

Abri d’art

The art of the gardens at Boisjarzeau in August are the dying borders of Allium, Rudbeckia, Gaura and Agapanthus and a host of others with forgotten names; tall sunflowers in orange and yellow, exuberant vegetable beds, laden fruit trees and raspberry canes, three blue beehives and four fat chickens in a run. The autumn golds…