I’m in England, visiting my mum who lives in Birchington in Kent. This part of the country is known as the Garden of England. The grass is green and flowers are blooming here in February. This area receives a minor dusting of snow on occasion, but the temperatures rarely dip below freezing. My mum lives in a ground floor unit of the building above.Birchington is on the English Channel, near the mouth of the Thames. It is not surprising to see gulls in abundance. Except these gulls have names: Molly and Golly. They have nested on this roof for years, producing one or two babies each season. My mum feeds them scraps and bits of cat food. Every morning this is the view out the kitchen window. Molly and Golly begging for breakfast. If the food isn’t produced quickly enough, these pushy birds will fly down and tap on the cat flap in my mum’s door to get her attention. I hope the birds don’t figure out how to use the flap, or they will be in the kitchen at feeding time.My mum’s housing development is an easy ten minute walk from the main street of Birchington, called Station Road (it leads to the railway station.) Many of the buildings are quite old. Here is found a nice range of shopping. It’s good to see most of the shops occupied and busy. Once there were five banks in town, but they have all closed. There are five charity shops providing selections of donated items. Once in a while I score a real find, some piece of English pottery, jewelry or flatware to fill any empty spots in my suitcases.This is The Square in Birchington. The most notable features on The Square are the round-about, All Saints, the Norman church (originally built in the 12th century and restored over the years,) and the Powell Arms pub. The pub has been there since at least the early 1800s, likely earlier, and was probably built on the site of an old hostelry. It is named for the Powells, a wealthy family who lived on a nice estate called Quex, just outside the village.
At the other end of the street from the Powell Arms is the Sea View, a pub, restaurant and inn built in 1865 and enlarged at the turn of the century. Across the street is a small green where the crocuses are blooming.
One of my favorite spots in Birchington is the Smuggler’s Restaurant and pub on the Canterbury Road. The building dates to the 1600s and has a snug and welcoming atmosphere and delicious roast of lamb.
When I visit the village to see my mum, it always seems like a little homecoming to step off the coach (also known as the National Express bus) on The Square in Birchington.