We have come to stop a couple nights with two of the English “family” at their house in the Kent countryside at Ickham.
It is a small village five miles east of Canterbury, with a few roads, two pubs, a church, and many old and well preserved houses. It is surrounded by farmland. At the time of our visit, some farmers were hay baling. Their modern machinery enabled one driver to go up and down the paddock cutting the low growing crop, and baling it in to rectangular blocks at the same time. It is a long time since it has been a labour intensive exercise.
Around the district, it is still possible to see the chimneys of oast houses. This is a building designed for kilning (drying) hops as part of the brewing process.
Wikipedia describes their construction and use as “consisting of two or three storeys on which the hops were spread out to be dried by hot air from a wood or charcoal fired kiln at the bottom. The drying floors were thin and perforated to permit the heat to pass through it and escape through a cowl in the roof which turned with the wind. The freshly picked hops from the fields were raked in to dry and then raked out to cool before being bagged up and sent to the brewery”.
The Kent county was a former hop-growing area, although I am not sure whether much is grown now. Many redundant oasts have been converted into houses. They are distinguishable by the conical cap sticking up from their roofline.
It is very pleasant to live in an English village, if you have your own transport. We strolled the country lanes (getting a little dusty from the hay baling in the process), and past the lovely houses, greeting the occasional person in their garden, until we ended up at one of the pubs. Here we sat outside, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine and looking across the village green as we chatted to the locals, before we strolled on home for dinner.
Thank you to ‘A’ and ‘P’ for a lovely couple of days ………..
Wednesday 13th August 2013, Garrulous Gwendolie, Ickham, Kent