The UK is experiencing a glorious heatwave that has so far lasted for two weeks and looks set to continue. When the temperature rises to over 30°C, it is time to head to the coast. This is what we did last Sunday.
We started out in Sandwich, at the Salutation gardens. We visited here two years ago when the dahlias were in full swing, and it blew me away. It is absolutely the best garden I have ever visited for dahlias. I was curious to know how it looked before the dahlias have hit their stride.
You enter the garden here, and are instantly transported into a tropical paradise.
There are explosions of yellow Verbascum and Marguerite daisies.
Around the corner you get the first view of the hotel, with the added excitement of jungly planting.
The gardens were originally laid out by Edward Lutyens in 1912. They gradually declined over the next seventy years, and were restored by Head Gardener Steve Edney. You might have seen him on the BBC’s coverage of RHS Hampton Court this week (still available on iPlayer). The gardens were then devastated by floods in 2013 and the garden team had to start all over again. This garden is a lesson in resilience.
The two borders here are filled with repeated climbing roses, herbaceous perennials and annuals. Like all the planting, it is rich and lush. It lulls you here into a cottagey feel, but then there will be a burst of tropical surprise with a canna or dahlia, or a spiky Eryngium.
There is formality too. Here is a lavender walk, with clipped cylinders of box.
The Salutation nestles perfectly into its setting. You are aware that you are in a medieval town, with little glimpses of the world outside.
You can stay at the hotel. I would love to sip a G&T on this terrace.
Or lunch in the restaurant.
But today we settled for a sandwich in the Sandwich Shop.
And then headed to Broadstairs for some sea and sand. This is at the quieter end, in Stone Bay.
I love the pink Valerian against the blue sea.
Yes we did go for a swim. Once you got over the initial gasp it was lovely. In fact we bobbed around for quite some time.
Then I thought I might try out some arty settings on my camera. This is ‘Vintage’:
And this is ‘Pop Art’:
It was quite hard to find a run of closed beach-huts. Most of them were open and bustling with suncream splattered families. I will try to come back much earlier in the day and have another play.
We did a bit of gazing out to sea. Can you just see the windmills on the horizon, below? We watched the progress of this fishing boat, trailed by seagulls.
We felt it might be time for an ice-cream.
Round the rocks and into the bustle of Broadstairs.
Do you want to see how busy the beach here was?
But it was ok, because ice-cream was in sight now, at the legendary Morelli’s. We counted fifteen staff serving ice-cream, and they were doing a sterling job.
Of course there had to be ‘Broadstairs Specials’.
The ones below are ‘Wild Berry Sorbet’ and ‘Venezualan Coffee’.
I’ll just let you enjoy that for a moment.
Then, sandy and salty, and full of ice-cream, we trudged back to the car. We walked through a cloud of damask perfume from this rose. It was heavenly.
Do you have a favourite seaside retreat? What are your favourite seaside treats?