Last Week my father and I stayed in a pleasant cottage near Headcorn in the Weald of Kent. We visited a number of places that were familiar to my father from the time when he lived in Gillingham and, with my mother, cycled all over the county. We visited many of his old haunts – some of which he had not seen for years.
We visited three of my cousins, two of whom live in the centuries old houses of the type that are scattered all over Kent. I also visited my great-grandfather’s house about which my father often speaks and the ‘Tuck-In’ where my mother worked as a waitress eighty years ago – it has changed little from the time I remember it over fifty years ago. The weather was delightful and nowhere can be more lovely than Kent in the spring.
We also visited Sissinghurst the home of Vita Sackville-West – the towers where she had her study and the garden evoked a culture of leisure and delight in literature. The gardens were a mixture of French formality and romantic English natural landscape. I felt the presence of the muses hovering arond the two towers.
My father enjoyed meeting the owners of the cottage where we stayed because their interest in local history meant they were intrigued by his memory of a fighter plane that landed in the field near the church during the war. They had discovered that the pilot was Polish and had survived fighting the Germans in the Polish Airforce, the French Airforce and the British Airforce before finally being shot down and killed over France only six months after his crash landing in Grafty Green. My mother and father had been stealing strawberries as the plane came down over their heads.
The crash landing occurred not a hundred yards from a Yew Tree planted by Elizabeth I