PUBLISHED: 11:09 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:41 20 February 2013
Now that the winter weather is well and truly gone (we hope), it's time to get out and about in your county, and what better way to do that than by visiting one of the wonderful National Trust properties dotted across the region?
NSPCC plant sale
Saltwood Castle, nr Hythe
For the third year running, the NSPCC is staging a plant sale in the grounds of Saltwood Castle. Not only will there be 18 nurseries attending offering plenty of unusual and interesting plants, but you also get the chance to have a wander around the grounds of this beautiful property. Refreshments include home-made cakes and a barbecue.
Garden & Plant Fair
Tickets: 30 (entrance, lunch and speaker), 5 on the gate
Buston Manor, Maidstone
The Gardening for Disabled Trust, a nationwide charity that helps disabled people to continue gardening, despite illness, age or disability, is running a garden and plant fair in the grounds of Buston Manor. As well as stalls selling plants, pots, baskets and gardening gear, plantsman Tom Hart-Dyke of Lullingstones World Garden fame will make an appearance as a speaker. You can buy a ticket that includes a sit-down lunch, entry to the fair and the opportunity to hear Tom speak about a subject he is passionate about. There will also be a raffle.
Meet the Curator
3 May, 11.30am to 12.30pm
Tickets: 5 to 20
Quex Park Museum, Birchington
Want to know what goes on behind the scenes in the Quex Musuem? Heres your chance to find out. The curator, Malcolm Harman has plenty of stories to tell, and a few weapons to show you as well.
A Murder in the Mast House
14 to 15 May
Tel: 01634 823814
The Mast House and Mould Loft, Historic Docks, Chatham
Have a spooky, spine-tingling experience as you take part in this ghost investigation. Hear the tale of the Murder in the Mast House, rumoured to be one of the most haunted buildings on the dock site, and keep an eye out for any ghostly going-ons.
Demelza May Ball
Tel: 01795 845204
Eastwell Manor, near Ashford
The annual Demelza Ball is being held in the wonderful surroundings of Eastwell Manor, with special guest Christopher Biggins. He will be the silent auctioneer where lots include signed sports shirts, a flatscreen TV, artwork and a dolls house. There will also be a raffle on the night. All proceeds raised will go towards the work of Demelza. Not only is the evening for a good cause, but also promises a whole heap of glitz, glamour and showbiz.
Sissinghurst at night
24, 25 and 28 May
Tickets: Normal admission applies
Sissinghurst Castle, near Cranbook
Tel: 01580 710700.
A rare treat for all lovers of the National Trusts jewel, Sissinghurst - this year it has decided to open its doors to the public on three May evenings until 9.30pm. These special openings give you a wonderful opportunity to visit the world-famous garden and admire the stunning White and Rose Gardens in a completely different light. Why not make it a special occasion and have supper in the Granary Restaurant and enjoy a menu created with food grown on Sissinghursts own farm?
Henry VIII and his courtiers
29 to 31 May
Tickets: Contact venue
Tel: 01732 865224
Hever Castle, nr Edenbridge
King Henry and his courtiers descend on Hever Castle this month for a Tudor Masque with a Robin Hood theme. Visitors can get to grips with Tudor life among a crowd of authentically dressed characters, as well as enjoy music and dancing as the court readies itself for the festivities. There will be a variety of craftsmen on hand to tempt you with their Tudor wares, while you can also learn about the ancient art of fletching (arrow-making), as well as how to fire a bow and arrow.
ARTS AND CRAFTS
Decorative Living Fair
Tickets: 5 in advance/7.50 on the door
Tel: 07929 826052
Eridge Park, Tunbridge Wells
With more than 40 exhibitors, there is an emphasis on decorative antiques and vintage items at this fair. In addition, there will be two new plant specialists Phoenix Perennial Plants and Herbal Haven, plus new exhibitor, Asters, who is bringing vintage quilts and eiderdowns
Weald of Kent Craft Show
1 to 3 May
Tickets: 3 to 6
Tel: 01425 277988
Penshurst Place, nr Tonbridge
More than 250 craftsmen will exhibit and demonstrate their work, including textiles, stoneware, jewellery, fashion, leathercraft, ceramics, wooden collectibles and glassware. There will also be entertainment laid on, including the band Miccoli, playing in aid of the British Heart Foundation. You can also try your hand at some of the crafts, with regular workshops over the three-day show.
Tickets: 4 to 7
Tel: 01892 870 347
Chiddingstone Castle, Edenbridge
Step back in time to one of Englands most turbulent periods in history, the Civil War. Learn all about the fighting methods at the time, and the weapons used and why not try your hand at mini jousting and pike drills? Open to all ages.
Step back into the 1940s
15 May and 16 May
Tickets: 7.80 to 34.00
Tel: 01580 765155
Kent & East Sussex Railway, Tenterden
Step back to the 1940s with the Kent & East Sussex Railway at its railway stations in Tenterden and Sussex. Visitors can relive the lifestyle with period vehicles, music and dancing. The highlight, though, has to be special performances by soprano Fiona Harrison, the UKs finest professional 40s singer. The show features all your favourite tunes from the era, including Well Meet Again. And thats not all the Cinque Port Lindy Hoppers will get you into the swing of things.
Classic Car Show
Fremlin Walk, Maidstone
Childrens TV favourite Roary the Racing Car will be guest of honour at Fremlin Walk as the shopping centre takes part in Maidstones annual Classic Car Show.
Look out too for rare cars from the 1920s, 1950s and 1960s on show, plus a variety of kit cars and some vintage motorcycles.
4 to 9 May
Tickets: 7.50 (matinees), 12.50, 17.50 for two on opening night
Tel: 01892 678678
Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells
Set just before the First World War, 13-year-old naval cadet Ronnie Winslow is expelled for stealing a five-schilling postal order but, convinced of his innocence, the boys father hires the best advocate in the land to clear his lads name. The case reaches both Parliament and the High Court, but there is a very high price to be paid by the family as events unfold.
OUT AND ABOUT
Have-a-Go at archery
Tickets: 1.50 to 2.00
Quex Park, Birchington
Think you could do better than Robin Hood? More of a sureshot than William Tell? Well, drop in to Quex Park and test your skills with a bow and arrow. With the aid of Thanet Archery Club, which will be on hand to offer pointers and advice, this promises to be a fun-filled family event.
The Green Man
Tickets: Contact venue
Tel: 01580 879842
Bedgebury Pinetum, Goudhurst
Walk through the pinetum and witness some of the wonderful, unusual and awe-inspiring trees in the bark, if you will. As you progress through the forest, you can collect foliage to decorate your own Green Man mask. Follow in an age-old tradition and come dressed in green to welcome the summer: the best-dressed boy and girl will win a prize.
Operation Dynamo: Dunkirk Anniversary Weekend
29 May to 31 May
Tickets: 8 to 39.80
Tel: 0870 3331183
Dover Castle, Dover
To mark the 70th anniversary of the evacuation for troops, Dover Castle hosts a weekend packed full of activities to mark the miracle escape of many of the allied armed forces from the beaches of France. Tour the tunnels, take part in wartime activities, experience history coming to life and get a real understanding of where Operation Dynamo was masterminded. See also page 56.
Marle Place Gardens
Until 3 Oct
Tickets: 1.50 to 5.00
Tel: 01892 2722304
Marle Place, Tonbridge
Smell the flowers, explore the kitchen garden and study the mosaic terrace and Edwardian rockery at beautiful Marle Place. Wander through the wild-flower carpeted woodland areas and then pay a visit to the gallery, where there will be a series of special exhibitions throughout the season.
Tickets: 3 to 20
Tel: 01622 790195
Harrietsham Village Hall, Harrietsham
Started more than 24 years ago by Bill Butler, this years walk sets off from Harrietsham Village Hall and wends its way through the privately owned Bluebell Woods that have been specially opened by the Torry Hill Estate. Bill sadly passed away last year, but his memory lives on through the walk, which has as many as 1,000 participants. The event is a sponsored one, and monies raised go to help The Hospice in its work.
Tales of Bohemia
14 to 16 May
Tickets: Contact box office
Tel: 01303 842184
St Mary and St Eanswythes Church, Folkestone
The Sacconi Quartet, in association with The Creative Foundation, presents the third annual Chamber Music Festival. One of Britains most energetic and outstanding string quartets, the group present works from Czech composers Janacek, Semtana, Suk and Dvorak, among others. The quartet will also be taking part in an outreach programme designed to bring classical music to those who it might not traditionally reach.
The Baroque Singers
Tickets: 5 to 10
St Peters Church, Southborough
In memory of Richard Gosling, Tunbridge Wells premier chamber choir is staging a concert in Southborough, The Baroque Singers will perform Gabriel Faures Requiem, joined by their associate orchestra, The Baroque Players.
The Counterfeit Stones
Tel: 01322 220000
The Orchard, Dartford
Jumpin Jack Flash! Its the Counterfeit Stones coming to Kent, thanks to their Get Off My Chord Tour. Expect all the classic Stones hits and the moves from singer Nick Dagger, Keef Rickard, Bill Hymen, the Unholy Trinity of Bryon Jones/MickTailor-Made/Ronnie B Good and Charlie Mott. A night of pure rocknroll majesty from a group that even Sir Mick of Jagger has referred to as the most famous Stones (tribute) band.
7th Tunbridge Wells International Music Festival
Until 29 May
There is plenty to see and do while the festival is on, including musical masterclasses, concerts, lunches, listening to guest speakers and classical recitals, among so many other delights. Below are a few of the highlights:
Hotel du Vin, Tunbridge Wells
Sandy Gall speaking about his life as an author, ITN broadcaster and charity founder.
Master clarinettist Michael Collins (pictured) imparts some of his skills, talent and advice to budding musicians and fans of music in general.
Tel: 01892 678678
Top clarinettist Michael Collins conducts the City of London Sinfonia, who will play Mozarts Symphony 29, Copland and Finzi Clarinet Concertos and Barber Adagio for Strings.
Florence Nightingale Museum
Tickets: 4.80 to 16.00
Tel: 020 7620 0374
Florence Nightingale Museum
Following an extensive refit, the Florence Nightingale Museum reopens its doors in May. Located in the grounds of St Thomas Hospital, on the site of Nightingales first training school, the museum offers a journey through the remarkable ladys life, including her Victorian childhood, her role in the Crimean War, and her later life as a fervent campaigner for health reform. The museum also celebrates the history, development and evolution of the nursing profession.
Chelsea Flower Show
25 to 29 May
Tickets: 16 to 45
Tel: 0844 209 0357
Royal Hospital Gardens
Famous around the world, the Chelsea Flower Show returns to the 11-acre site in the grounds of the Royal Hospital. Marvel at the unique gardens on display and study the blooms on show in the side stalls and tents. And, if the floral promise fails to meet your expectations, you can always do a bit of celeb spotting. After all, everyone from the Queen downwards holds Chelsea in the utmost of esteem.
The Real Thing
Until 5 June
Tickets: 10 to 47
Tel: 0844 871 7628
The Old Vic
Former James Bond baddie Toby Stephens takes on the role of Henry, aged 40, who has left his wife for another woman and is not quite sure if its the right thing to do or, is, in fact, the real thing. Cue soul-searching and much thought behind the themes of infidelity and love. Often thought to be autobiographical, this production, by Tom Stoppard is believed to mirror the events in his own life when he left his wife, Miriam for Felicity Kendal, who appeared in the first production of the play.
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