We travelled to Kent for a sad occasion, so on arrival at Thurnham, where The Black Horse Inn is a pleasant and fascinating place, we were thrilled by its tranquil surroundings. The bedrooms are up-to-date, comfortable, and in individual buildings. The exteriors of rustic style, set in enchanting grounds, where flowers cascade from baskets and flowerbeds. Outside the room where we stayed there is even a fishpond within a small courtyard; such a delightful and unexpected feature.

The 18th century inn is dimly lit and cosy. Dried hops swathe ceilings, a call to the countryside’s beer-making past. So are the framed photographs hanging on roughly plastered walls, each telling a story of communities coming together for summer on a working holiday in days of old. The boys and men wearing flat caps and waistcoats, some holding long handle hop-picking tools. And the womenfolk and girls sporting straw boaters, frills and long pinafores.

I wondered if those families knew about the village’s historical route?

At the bottom of the North Downs, just outside the county town of Maidstone is Thurnham, with the Pilgrims Way going through it. I didn’t glean that information until I saw the inn’s signage, and then soon recalled as a teenager exploring a small part of the ancient track further along at Ashford. It had been enlightening listening to my father and uncle as we tramped along the same tree tunnelled earthen pathway as the Pilgrims. Plus, it was fun imagining what it must have been like in the Middle Ages when they journeyed from Winchester to Thomas Becket’s sacred shrine in Canterbury.

At the end of the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer was so inspired by the Pilgrims’ experiences that he wrote The Canterbury Tales, a collection of their stories told on their odyssey portraying insight into the life and times back then. Now that’s another book added to my ever-growing reading list. I guess it won’t be an easy read, but it’s one I can dip in and out of. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Until next time,
Sue. X