It’s all happening in Kent this weekend despite the weather – well as we say you can experience a whole year of English seasons in a single day!
Henry VIII and his courtiers are gathering at Hever Castle for a pageant complete with jousting, have-a-go archery, Tudor dancing and minstrels; the Kent County Show is taking place at Detling and the world’s best golfers are battling it out against each other and the elements in the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George’s in Sandwich.
I was lucky to go to Royal St George’s on one of the quiet practice days earlier this week when although windy it was dry, and was rather over excited to be able to get up close to my personal legends Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Padraig Harrington and Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke, particularly since, being a practice day, cameras were allowed.
We also got there early enough to follow Rory McIlroy for the last few holes of his final practice round.
The BBC’s coverage of The Open has included some wonderful aerial filming to show how Royal St George’s is a quintessential links course located on land that was created when silting during the Middle Ages pushed the coast 2 miles away from the former seaport of Sandwich. Apart from these enlightening aerial shots of the course itself (how do they hit the ball so far?) the filming has also lingered on some of the other, more permanent, highlights of this most beautiful and historic area of the South East of England.
This morning’s BBC filler included stunning shots of Dover Castle (‘Lock and Key of the Kingdom’), the towering White Cliffs with stories of Ian Fleming and the Number 7 bus he would take into Canterbury, and a wonderful sequence over the extraordinary Roman Fort at Richborough – a real, but often overlooked, ‘must see’ in this part of the county.
One of the historic Cinque Ports, Sandwich is just along the coast from another – Deal, home to one of Henry VIII’s so-called Tudor Rose defensive forts – where many top international golfers have been spotted in restaurants this week. I understand that the cobbled streets of nearby Canterbury have also been filled with both golfers and their fans.
Next time you visit the South East of England, those of you who may only associate Sandwich with golf and bread must be sure to take a guided walk through the narrow streets of this history-rich town itself and take time to explore some of the area’s other treasures.