A day trip to the Old Dungeness Lighthouse in Kent

Dungeness lighthouse the top view

With the summer holidays drawing to a close husband was adamant that he wanted to get us all away one last weekend in the caravan. We decided to go to Dymchurch and explore that area as it’s been a long time since we were last there.

Fortunately on Sunday we woke to clear blue skies and decided to make the most of our time left by driving out to the tip of Dungeness, I wanted to explore the area and see for myself the famous power engine and cottages dotted in the vast shingle wilderness.

It’s a short drive from St Mary’s Bay where we were pitched and some of the roads are very old and consequently bumpy but I was captivated by the clusters of homes alongside our route. They looked like old wooden huts that had since been converted, some into the most amazing stylish homes, others into art galleries. Each one unique and I would have loved to have looked inside them.

dungeness kent

At the end of the road we came to the famous Dungeness Power Station and the Old Dungeness Lighthouse. We discovered you could climb to the top and visit so dad took Baxter for a walk and the girls and I made the climb to the top.

dungeness lighthouse kent

The lighthouse is divided into floors so you can’t get the famous spiral shot from top to bottom or vice versa, on one floor it looked like a desk was there in ceremony style and I wondered if you could possibly get married there?

The final flight of stairs are incredibly steep and you have to come down them backwards, when you get to the top of them, there is a minuscule door to go through to reach the balcony outside. It is worth it.

dungeness lighthouse kent

Spectacular views await you that stretch for miles into nothingness.

dungeness lighthouse kent


There is a fantastic view of Dungeness Power Station too and I was surprised to see how many people were coming to take a look. You can book a tour of the B plant.

dungeness power station

As we travelled along the roads of Dungeness I spotted lots of old buses taking visitors back and forth.

dungeness lighthouse kent


Once we had finished our Dungeness Lighthouse tour we jumped back in the car and made our way to the far beach where driving in I had spotted lots of old containers and old boats scattered here and there, I wanted to investigate further.

Dungeness beach Kent


It’s really odd and difficult to understand if someone has dumped them there or if they are there on purpose but on spotting a couple of fishermen close by powering up engines my guess is they use the trash they find as containers for their nets and fishing equipment.

I loved this container which had been painted on.

container dungeness kent

And this cottage out in the wilderness of Dungeness.

dungeness cotttage

We decided to stop at the Dungeness Snack Shack for lunch and I’m so pleased we did, a quirky hut on the side of the road selling fresh fish to passers by, we ordered a crab rolls and Limonata and sat on the bench to enjoy the peaceful area.

dungeness fish snack shack

As we drove off the Dungeness stretch of land I spotted this cottage and intrigued, asked husband to stop so I could go back and take a look. Ignoring the raised eyebrows (not another photo) I walked back to the side of the cottage and took this photo. I posted it to my Instagram feed and was later informed that the place belongs to Derek Jarman, film director, stage designer, artist, and gardener.

The poem on the black timber wall of Derek Jarman’s cottage is from John Donne’s poem The Sun Rising and reads:

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run ?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices ;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
In that the world’s contracted thus ;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere

Derek Jarman's cottage Dungeness


A really lovely day and a perfect family visit, cost of entrance to the Dungeness Lighthouse is £4.00 fpr adults and £2.50 for children. Students and concessions £3.50 A family ticket for 2 adults and four children aged 5 – 15 costs £12.50. Under 5’s go free.

Dungeness Snack Shack, Crab rolls £5, Lobster rolls £9 also can be made on flat bread. Well worth a stop off. There’s a local fresh fish shop in the blue painted hut with a fabulous display of fish that you will want to buy and take home too.

Rochester Fairy and Elves trail

Rochester fairies and elves trail

Rochester is a beautiful city just up the road from me, it’s always been there and I have, for the best part of my life, taken it for granted. It sits on the River Medway

It has a 12th century castle whose keep or stone tower is one of the best preserved in England or France. There is also the most beautiful cathedral that in fact, is home to the second oldest diocese in England.

Rochester was one of Charles Dickens favourite places and many of his novels are based here.

Anyway, I’m not here to fill you in on the history of Rochester, no! I want to tell you about a fantastic initiative they have throughout the pretty town, the Rochester Fairies and Elves Door Trail << Facebook link

Rochester Fairies and Elves trail

I know, isn’t it a genius idea? That’s a group photo of our Fairy hunters above.

I saw someone talk about it on Facebook and I knew it would be something the twins would love to do, so we asked some school friends if they’d like to join us, as we haven’t seen them all summer, picked a day and time and our Rochester Fairies and Elves Door Trail came to life.

Rochester Fairies and Elves trail

The fun starts at the Guildhall Museum which opens at 10am and you pick up your map, there are varying versions of the Fairies and Elves Trail map as more and more shopkeepers discover fairy doors of their own. Make sure you take a pencil with you as our Fairy hunters loved ticking off the pictures of the doors on the reverse of the map as we discovered them.

Rochester Fairies and Elves trail

Some of the shops with more fragile merchandise have started (for obvious reasons) to place their fairy doors in the shop window or very close to the front of the shop to avoid over excited children running in and boisterously running around hunting. The mums agreed this was a very wise decision.

Rochester Fairies and Elves trail

Baggins Book Bazaar, the biggest second hand book shop in England, even had a little poem offering clues.

As the children spend a really enjoyable time running up and down the high street in search of the tiny doors, you will be able to take in the beauty of the town and marvel at the fabulous shops there. I am definitely returning for a quiet coffee and stroll once the twins are back at school!

Rochester Fairies and Elves trail

Talking of food and water, there are plenty of options in Rochester that cover all sorts of diets and preferences. We stopped off at Tony Lorenzo’s for some fabulous milkshakes and smoothies and an enormous array of freshly made to order sandwiches and baguettes, you really must check out the counter,  I couldn’t make my mind up.

It took us just over an hour to complete the trail, there were a few more doors that require a bit of long distance walking which we missed out but we left the Eastgate library one till last and what a good idea as the fairy door is situated in the children’s section and there was a table and chairs with crayons and fairy print outs to colour in so that gave little legs a rest and kept the little minds busy too.

Once completed the Fairy door trail, head back to the Guildhall Museum where you will be handed a certificate for taking part.

Rochester Fairies and Elves trail

Of course if you did want to make a day of it I’d highly recommend a visit to the castle or the cathedral.

Ah and the news is they are organising a Fairy Halloween and a Fairy Winter Wonderland so watch the Facebook page for more updates.

Rochester Fairies and Elves trail

The cost of the Rochester Fairies and Elves door trail is free and there is plenty of parking at different spots in the town, I paid £2.40 for up to 4 hours.

Shorne Country Park Kent


shorne country park kent

It’s half term and we’re only way half way through the week. I have an earache, sore throat and a throbbing headache that even a powerful cocktail of pain killers isn’t able to nudge. Plus breakfast really is too early for a gin and tonic.

My half term days have been starting at 6.30am – no lie in for me since Baxter arrived; it’s easier and quicker for me to walk him whilst dad is getting washed and dressed for work. I arrive back just in time to say goodbye to him (7.10) and take over the childcare from him.

shorne country park woods light

Baxter is fine but turning his nose up at his breakfast with those sad, sad eyes, the girls are buzzing after a good night’s sleep giggling, talking in high voices and the calm I found on my dog walk is slowly, slowly dissolving.

Today we need to make a start on the homework; reading, spelling, Mathletics – the most annoying website in history that keeps crashing half way through a test – and we need to make bird feeders. TWO bird feeders as they need one each.

I am pretty close to swearing and it’s not 8am yet.

Shorne Country Park kent

My head is starting to throb, there’s a massive pile of ironing that needs to be done at some point this week, I need to run the vacuum around the house and keep the girls amused. Oh and then there’s work that needs fitting in too, welcome to Mari’s World everyone.

shorne country park

What to do?

I packed kids and dog in the car and carted them off to Shorne Country Park my brilliant idea being to exhaust them all and have an easy afternoon.

Shorne Country Park is a few minutes drive from our house, it’s 300 acres spread out across ancient woodlands, fields and open spaces. There are a lot of different trails to follow, short ones, Trim ones, Horse riding ones and ones which allow your dog off the lead too, about 18 km in all and they interestingly include the Heritage Trail which passes a ruined medieval manor house and RAF air raid shelters from the WWII.

woodpile shorne country park

There’s the Explorer Trail, a route taking in wild flowers, fungi and wetland areas of the park. The 10 km circular Darnley Trail through Shorne Wood Country Park and out into the local area through Cobham Park and Ashenbank, skirting the edges of Ranscombe Farm and Jeskyns.

shorne country park fairie ring

But what my girls like most is the path leading to the Fairie ring.

The paths are muddy right now, Baxter was a bit of a wuss to be honest and I almost had to pick him up at one point as he refused to go through the mud. *raises eyes*

The foliage is brown, the sky is grey, the air is cold but cheeks are flushed red in comparison.

shorne country park cardiac hill

Cardiac Hill stands in front of us so we go up

shorne country park cardiac hill

and up

shorne country park cardiac hill

Hold on a sec, Alice wants to take a photo.

shorne country park kent action cam

Back on upwards until we reach the top with views extending over north Kent and fallen trees to climb.

shorne country park kent

It’s not my best decision to date but I decide to let Baxter off his lead a bit … to practise his recall …

shorne country park

this ended up being an exercise of me shouting after him, trying to resemble a responsible dog owner to the busy park and in the end resulted in me running after him, the girls calling and running after me alarmed at what was happening and me pouncing on him whilst he happily sniffed lots of doggy bottoms, clipping on his lead with a ‘Never again’ being muttered through gritted teeth.

Syndol has devised a new formulation for headache and migraine. Taking Syndol means you don’t lose a day when headache or migraine strikes and you can get on with your life.

Oh Syndol if only I’d known this morning before I set off.

shorne country park Kent

As I returned home with a small dog properly covered in mud but wagging his tail furiously at all the fun he’d had. My two small people also returned muddy. Muddy trousers, muddy boots, muddy coats BUT happy, healthy little faces and lots of photos on their Action Cams.

shorne country park kent

I now have to add, washing the floors, washing clothes and grooming the dog to my To Do list so was it such a good idea?

YES. Always yes.

Shorne Country Park

Park open daily from 9am to dusk or 9pm (whichever is earliest).

Visitors Centre open daily from 10.00am to 5 pm
Cafe open daily from 10 – 5 in summer and 11 – 4 in winter
Free Entry

Car Park fee £2 all day, Monday to Friday and £2.50 weekends and bank holidays.
• Cafe
• Visitors Centre
• Toilet Facilities
• Trim Trail
• Childrens Play Area

Brewers Road, Shorne, Kent, DA12 3HX

Signposted from the A2 at the Shorne/Cobham junction, just south of Gravesend

Jeskyns Park Kent – Blowing away the cobwebs

jeskyns park pond

I really enjoy the period that goes between Christmas and Back to School it’s kind of a lull that pretty much you can ‘do as you please’. Yesterday I sat on the sofa pretty much most of the day and watched films, dvds and ate – still leftovers!

Today, dad has gone into work for the day and there is glorious sunshine out there even if it is a bit blowy.

jeskyns park

The morning was spent cleaning, I changed beds, vacuumed, dusted and polished. I watered the Poinsettia before she loses all her red leaves, in fact I watered all the plants in the house much to their delight and the last task for today is the dreaded ironing which has been accumulating recently as I concentrated on ignoring it.

jeskyns park sculpture

But with two little people bursting with energy the only way I could tackle the ironing pile without a million interruptions was to exhaust them, right? So I took them to Jeskyns Park Kent with their scooters.

Jeskyn’s Park opened up about 10 years ago and from flat fields, woodland is now starting to grow thanks to the Forestry Commission. There are many trails for dog walkers, cyclists, walkers and orienteering too all can be found on the Jeskyn’s page, today we wanted to let off steam.

jeskyns treehouse

I love that walking through Jeskyns Park you can find many works of art in the midst of nature. there is also a tree house to play in, a pine cone pit and a sandpit with a fabulous wooden play area.

jeskyns park

The landscape at this time of year is barren but beauty can still be found everywhere. What excited us most today was the Gruffalo trail which we haven’t yet completed. Guess what we’re doing on Sunday? We’ve talked a lot about the Gruffalo on Mari’s World, we even went to see some Gruffalos being carved out of wood.

jeskyns gruffalo trail

There is an activity pack in the cafe that costs £2 and includes a foraging bag, activity leaflet and sheets, pencil and sticker.

Without following the trail we discovered letters in trees, found habitats of various characters and silhouettes too.

jeskyns adventure playground

We stopped to play at the adventure playground and the girls loved it. There is climbing, balancing, jumping, stepping stones and a sand pit too.

jeskyns park playground

Jeskyn’s Park is a very popular place to walk dogs, there are designated areas to let your dog off the lead for a good run around and other areas where they must be kept on a lead. As we came away from the park Bessie asked,

So will we be getting our dog on the last day of January Mummy?

Looks like the moment of our dog ownership is getting closer.

I’m linking up with Fiona’s Country Kids today over at Coombe Mill Blog.

jeskyns park poles

All photos taken on my iPhone 4 as I forgot my camera!

Leeds Castle The Gingerbread Trail

leeds castle

Leeds Castle in Kent has 1000 years of history, quite a lot to cover and I’m sure you’ll appreciate that it will take quite some time to discover everything so on our first visit, which happens to be just before Christmas we had an overall tour. A taste of everything to come, as Leeds Castle sells annual tickets which allow you to return again and again and discover this beautiful castle in all seasons and at all events throughout the year.

leeds castle bedroom

Christmas is a truly wonderful time at Leeds Castle, the rooms are dressed with beautiful trees and this year each tree was decked with lots of gingerbread decorations in celebration of the Biscuiteers who have created the most wonderful display of gingerbread figures including Leeds Castle in miniature, seen here

lees castle gingerbread castle

There are two trails, one in the grounds with 8 clues to work out the perfect gingerbread recipe and one in the castle where children must discover the hidden gingerbread men in four of the rooms.

I loved the fact that the Gingerbread men to look for were called Jolly Henrys in honour of King Henry VIII who spent so much time here with his first wife Catherine of Aragon.

Leeds Castle gingerbread men

Walking through the castle you get a fabulous idea of how it was to live in it. The fabrics are sumptuous, the ornaments are luxurious and I felt it was a real privilege to be able to take a peek inside. The Gingerbread trail made the twins want to rush ahead a bit to discover the next room and I could frequently hear ‘Come on mummy. You’re so slow!’

Leeds castle maze and grotto

Finished the castle we continued on our Gingerbread Quest in the grounds and this took us up to the maze – great fun especially the exit via the grotto all decorated in shells, and on to the play area where the girls had a good run around. Although the music was a bit dramatic and frightened the girls :)

leeds castle grotto collage

There are a few eating places to choose from and many had bought snacks or picnics with them so you could make a great day of it.

Leeds Castle Christmas Market

leeds castle christmas market

Our journey back to the car park took us past the Christmas market and the fun fair. We bought 12 tokens for £10 and each ride was 2 tokens. The rides were long and the girls throughly enjoyed themselves. The market has lots of stalls selling all sorts of produce including wine, gin, cheese, slippers and jewellery. There are also food stalls and drink stalls with mulled wine and mulled cider.

Annual Tickets

All annual tickets grant repeat visits for a whole year from the date of issue, with the exception of special ticketed events, you can use your ticket to visit as many times as you like. Small additional charges may apply to activities at all events. Prices are valid until 31st March 2015.

Adults £24.00
Senior Citizens/Students & Visitors with Disabilities £21.00
Children (4-15yrs) £16.00
Infants (under 4yrs) FREE

Day Tickets

Day Tickets are only available to purchase until 4th January 2015.
Day Tickets can be upgraded to Annual Tickets at the full price of an annual ticket on the day of your visit at the Ticket Office. We do not provide a postal service for ticket upgrades & tickets cannot be upgraded online.

Adults £19.00
Senior Citizens/Students & Visitors with Disabilities £16.00
Children (4-15yrs) £11.00
Infants (under 4yrs) FREE


If you missed out on the Gingerbread trail which finishes on the 23rd December, don’t worry you can follow the Winter Trail until 4th January. Keep an eye on the website for future fun family events.

Disclosure: We were given Annual passes for the purpose of this post and many more to follow throughout the year. For the extra few pounds I would advise investing in an annual ticket and returning throughout the year. I will be.