Saturday morning dawned cloudy but the forecast said it was going to improve, so with that in mind we ventured out to see the sights with a bag for the beach in the car just in case. What to do in the morning was first on the agenda so we decided to visit Doddington Place Gardens which is part of a 850 acres Edwardian estate, located on the edge of Doddington village, near Faversham. We like visiting gardens so it was a great disappointment when we got there and it was closed. Looking through the leaflets we decided to try Mount Ephraim Gardens which is near the village of Dunkirk just the other side of Faversham. Luckily this was open so we parked the car and went inside.
Mount Ephraim Gardens is an Edwardian terraced garden, located at Hernhill, the gardens are laid out around a Grade II listed house and 800 acres estate. It was originally built in 1695, then rebuilt in 1878 and then extended 1913 all for the Dawes family.The gardens were laid out in the early 1900s, but after wartime neglect (when most adult men were enlisted in wartime services) were substantially restored by Mary and Bill Dawes from the early 1950s. Mary Dawes was involved in the day-to-day running of the gardens until died in 2009, at the age of 93. Mount Ephraim has never been a ‘professionally’ maintained garden, but Mary had always lovingly tended it.
It has a large collection of spring bulbs, trees and shrubs including Rhododendrons, many types of Camellias and Magnolias. It has various areas, including the Millennium Rose Garden. It also has a large Sweet Chestnut, planted to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. The rock garden together with the water garden is based on a series of pools ornamented with a Japanese stone bridge and stone lanterns. The topiary of the garden has been cut into a various birds and animals, and also First World War memorabilia in clipped yew. The long herbaceous border has a brick wall giving wind shelter and it provides colour throughout the flowering season.
Luck was on our side and as we viewed the gardens the clouds began to move away and out came the sun. As we’d started out early it was only 12.30 so after we’d had a cuppa we headed off to the naturist beach at Shellness.This ‘official’ naturist beach is located near Leysdown-on-Sea at the far eastern end of the Isle of Sheppey on the north Kent coast.
The beach is half a mile beyond (south-east) of the main beach at Leysdown near to the place identified on maps as ‘Shell Ness’ and the beach is also known as Shellness. We arrived with not a cloud in the sky grabbed our new beach tent and headed on to the beach. Once undressed we took to putting up the tent which went up in a couple of minutes then for the next three hours we lazed around in the glorious sunshine.