I always feel a little embarrassed when people from outside the UK talk about this place or that place which they loved when they were in Britain and look at me expectantly. I usually have to admit I’ve never been there. I was too busy exploring other countries. Now that I don’t live in the UK, I find myself looking into places in the UK that I would really like to visit. Maybe the fact that I’m unlikely to be able to visit any time soon makes it more enticing.
One place I heard about a while ago was the Shell Grotto in Margate, Kent. My husband was reading a magazine and asked me if I’d ever been there. Although I grew up in Kent and visited Margate many times (day trips with my mum and sister), I had no idea that Margate was home to a rather bizarre shell grotto: http://shellgrotto.co.uk/gallery/. According to the website for the grotto, its history is unclear, but it is a shell-lined grotto hiding underground. Another time, my husband asked me if I knew of a village called Pluckley, again in Kent. Apparently it’s the ‘most haunted’ village in England,and a mere 28 miles from where I spent the first 18 years of my life. Again, I’d never heard of it. It looks rather lovely in this view from the air: (source: images2.wikia.nocookie.net)
Now Visit England is releasing a list of 101 Things to do in England before you go abroad. The complete list won’t be out until St. George’s Day (April 23rd), but of the things listed on the preview, I’ve done very few. According to the Daily Mail (in Balti in Birmingham, a night out in Newcastle), the list tells us to do things like swing through the trees in Sherwood Forest (nope, haven’t done that), watch cheese rolling in Cooper’s Hill, Gloucestershire (haven’t done that either), enjoy the windswept strangeness of Dungeness, Kent (I’m afraid I think of nuclear mutant crabs when I think of Dungeness – my image of that town is of the nuclear power station, so when I see restaurants offering Dungeness crab on the menu, that is where my mind goes – sorry!), and meet the ponies in the Dartmoor National Park (one I can check off – memories of an aggressive pony trying to get into our car near a tor when I was about 10). The list has a lot of interesting places, and I’ll be interested to see the full list on Tuesday. I know that the next time I do manage to get back to the UK, I’ll have to force myself to go further than London, which is my usual habit.