The people you meet…

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When I left Weybridge at 11 yesterday to trek all the way to Biddenden in Kent to give a talk to the Tenterten district W.I. It was already 26 degrees.  Four miles short of Biddenden I detoured to Sissinghurst Castle Gardens because a) they were advertising a Farmers’ Market and b) it was the sort of glorious summer day when sane people avoid cars/long journeys and spend their days in gardens.

And what a garden!  After a glorious hour I realised that that time was passing and so I got back into the roasting car, felt myself basting in the heat and turned on the sat nav. And hit the wrong key. And locked it.  And realised I’d left the map book at home, 90 miles away. And I was due in Biddenden in 40 minutes.

You should NEVER rely on technology when you could bring a map book!

Fortunately, where I needed to be was five minutes away in a straight line and I pulled up outside the Hall in plenty of time.  So off I went for a wander and came across the sort of little shop you don’t expect to find in a quiet Kent village on a sunny Monday afternoon.  Have a look at   It’s the website of Janet and Brian from Claris’s Tea Room and Gift Shop on the last corner as you head east out of Biddenden.  From the outside it’s quaint and you wonder if you’re going to be supervised if you even breathe on the merchandise.  But you aren’t.

It’s gorgeous – absolutely gorgeous.   There’s a shelved wall of pottery that you really want to take home  and can, at a price.  There are trays of jewelery ranging from temptingly cheap to fairly pricey – definitely fairly – and another wall with cards for every occasion and on examination you realize that there’s a theme. Someone has a eye for the unusual and a sense of humour. The owners chat as you browse and there’s no pressure .  I ended up going back after the talk (lovely audience – made the long journey worth while) and wished I could have stayed longer.

Next time I’ll bring my shopping list.  Claris’s is well worth a visit.

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