Gone to the Swan

December 2, 2010

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I spent almost all of my time in London, but there was one side trip. Dan thought it would be fun to combine an outing to the country with tracking down one of the honorees on a top pubs list by the Guardian. That was Swan on the Green in West Peckham, Kent.

 

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We took the train from London to Wateringbury. The Wateringbury station house was a charming old building with lots of interesting shapes and angles. 

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From there we had an about four mile walk to West Peckham and the Swan.

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The town of Wateringbury seemed pretty typical. I noticed a few of these World War II plaques on walls along the road. Other than Ground Zero in New York City, we don’t really have physical battlefields on the continental United States from recent times, so I thought they were pretty interesting. Most of my knowledge of the war comes from television programs like “Foyle’s War.” It was a little eerie in a way seeing these markers of people’s pride in their war effort, and definitely humbling to see firsthand evidence of something I only know through Hollywood representations.

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We walked on. This was pretty typical of my view—Dan and Casper way ahead. I thought I was a fast walker, but Dan walks really fast. I didn’t always bother to holler that I was stopping to look at something and take pictures, like when, being the Midwestern girl that I am, I got a kick out of hey, they grow corn here, too!

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Along the way, we thought we’d stop at Mereworth Castle and have a look around. As we approached the “castle,” which was really just a large manor, a woman came running out and inquired, rather suspiciously and in a thick Slavic accent, what we were doing there. We learned that it was a private residence not open to the public and beat a hasty retreat back to the main road. Instead, I settled for taking what turned out to be my favorite photo that I’ve taken so far on my iPhone 4 of roses in the yard of the church in the town of Mereworth. I love the colors and the blown-out exposure of the background.

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Mereworth is also where we crossed a street named, appropriately enough, The Street. That tickled my funnybone.

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We continued to walk without incident, except for Casper’s alarming tendency to occasionally drift out into the road, until we reached West Peckham. We triumphantly strode up to the Swan on the Green, ready for a tasty beverage to refresh us after our walk, only to find that they were closed until suppertime. Anticlimax. 

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Casper set up watch and we endeavored to kill over an hour, which included playing backgammon and exploring the neighboring church yard.

Casper talked us into a few ball sessions on the eponymous green across from the pub until, at last, it was once again open for business.

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We were excited because we knew they made their own beer. I always enjoy sampling new and local brews when I go places. By that time we were also famished and enjoyed a nice meal.

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It was soon time to go, though Dan determined that we were a little too late to catch the last train back to London from Wateringbury, so when we got back as far as Mereworth (approximately), we went to The Queen’s Head Pub (StreetView), whose sign we had seen on the main road, and called a cab to take us somewhere else—to Tonbridge, I think (correct me if I’m wrong)—to catch the train from there. We had just enough time for one more thirst quencher while we waited for our ride.

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It was almost a disaster—the cab driver informed us that dogs were not allowed, but we didn’t have to work too hard to convince him otherwise. It seemed like the car ride to Tonbridge took as long as the whole train ride down had earlier in the day, but at last we were speeding toward home. We were all quite pleased when we arrived back at the house.

One Response to “Gone to the Swan”

  1. dan Says:

    oh, yeah. sorry about my ludicrously fast walking. one of these days i will actually get the art of slowing down. : /was quite a fun day though.


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