I cheated. Well, not really - the watch arrived as I was heading off to my home-town for the weekend. Just as well really - it's a lot prettier than Watford...
So here we are in Tenterden Kent. It's one broad street, basically, with lanes running off either side.
From the doorstep -
Looking back at the house. I was born behind one of the upper windows in this row. These are mid-nineteenth century, making them fairly modern for the High Street -
Up the street -
Typical Wealden houses from the 17th century. Oak frames hung with tiles. The left cottage appears to have a brick ground floor, but it doesn't. More of that later. My father, a carpenter and builder, did a lot of work on the right-hand cottage. They wanted him to put in a new straight door, but he refused. He wouldn't approve of them painting it either -
Probably the oldest house in the street, from the 16th century -
These are from the early 16th century. The neighbours favour different styles of gardening. I wonder who sweeps the communal path? I bet it's 'The Greens' -
The width of the High Street is explained by it once having hosted livestock auctions. I can remember sheep being herded up the street for the May fair, but that belongs to the past now -
Down one of the lanes -
Cross the road to the church. The white building is the Town Hall -
The Woolpack is a 15th century coaching inn. The name recalls the source of the town's early wealth - the sheep of Romney Marsh to the south -
The church. 12th century in parts, but the tower is from the mid 15th century -
Lord Nelson's daughter is buried in one of these graves. She married the vicar -
The tower is enormous considering the few hundred people who lived here when it was built. An ostentatious show of wealth, really -
Next to the church, my first school (from 5-7 years). I was never as close to the church again...
What I think of as 'The Eight Bells'. For 500 years it was a pub, and now it's a bloody Cafe Rouge. I spent many happy hours (or was it decades?) in there -
We have a railway station. Well actually it was closed in the early 1960s, but the line was bought by steam train enthusiasts, and now runs to the rather picturesque Bodiam Castle over the border in Sussex. After the line closed me and my friends found one of those hand-cranked trolleys, and went skimming across the countryside for several weeks - until we were apprehended closing some level-crossing gates -
Now that's what I call a good advert - tells you all you need to know without any fuss -
Carriages, but no locomotive today -
Now the town museum, this was the workshop where my father did his carpentry stuff -
Back down the other side of the street. Most of the houses are wooden-framed -
Even some that look like brick -
On the corners you can see that they are tiles -
The William Caxton. Caxton was the father of British printing and was said to be born in Tenterden. Just over the road are the broken remains of a once-splendid stone archway to one of the manor houses that fringe the town. It fell down in a gale. The millionaire rock-star owner of the estate (Kevin Godley of 10cc) said he couldn't afford to rebuild it...
And now down the road to Ellen Terry's cottage. People of my father's generation remember as boys holding her horse for a penny when she came up into town. Dame Ellen Terry was the greatest Shakespearian actress of her day, and was in many ways the first British superstar. The house was the harbour-masters cottage in the 15th century. The sea is 20 miles away now, but before the silting of the marsh and the river, Tenterden was a port. Henry V's 1,000 ton warship 'Jesus' was built here.
Not much remains of the mighty river. Hey, someone left a watch here!
I love the marsh. Big skies -
A Kentish Oast-House. They were for drying hops. Most, like this one, have now been turned into houses. Our family went hop-picking, but it's all mechanised now -
Time to drive back to my usual home -
Where this is my more usual daily habitat -