KATE PHIPPS IS A WRITER CREATING BESPOKE POETRY COMMISSIONS AND ART PRINTS OF HER OWN PERSONAL WORK. HERE, SHE TELLS US WHY SHE LOVES WHERE SHE LIVES…
Where do you live?
Withyham, a tiny hamlet outside of Tunbridge Wells.
How long have you lived there and what made you decide to move there?
We have lived here for eight years. It was the romance of our cottage that caught my eye initially. The house had been empty for almost a year and was nestled amongst an overgrown but beautiful garden, as soon as I saw it I just knew we would end up there, it felt like it had a story to tell.
What’s your favourite shop locally?
I love Fuller’s Farm Shop at Eridge, they sell delicious fresh meat and vegetables and really champion local brands.
Where’s the best place to go for a Sunday stroll?
I love the Forest Way, which is the old railway line near our house. You can walk, cycle or run in either direction towards Forest Row or Groombridge or step off the path into the ﬁelds and ﬁnd yourself amongst beautiful countryside. I have walked there in every season (and every weather!) with my children and it holds such special memories for me.
The best place to get a cup of coffee?
When I am working on a poetry commission I often meet clients or seek inspiration by people watching (whilst eating cake!) at Juliet’s in Tunbridge Wells. It is an old favourite and its simple charm and warm atmosphere never fail to make me smile.
Where do you take people when they come to visit?
We often head up onto the Ashdown Forest for a walk. The forest looks amazing all year and lots of our friends come down from London so it’s lovely to give them a real taste of country life. Then we might head to The Hatch Inn (at Colemans Hatch) for a pint or a glass of wine.
What’s the night life like where you live?
We are really lucky to have a brilliant pub a walk away from us called The Dorset Arms. A few years ago it was bought back from the brewery by the Buckhurst Estate (and the De La Warr family) who have transformed it into a really lovely local pub with amazing food and drink. Withyham has a really strong and supportive village community so we often walk down to meet neighbours.
Where’s your favourite place to eat locally?
I love The Hop Yard in Forest Row, they regularly have live music and open mic nights on and they serve yummy cocktails and artisan pizzas. It has a really relaxed vibe and reminds me of the old days in London when my husband and I ﬁrst met.
Are there any nice views nearby?
Burrswood is a health and wellbeing centre near us in Groombridge with wonderful grounds. There are some lovely woodland walks with big country views and it is particularly great on a frosty morning or spring afternoon.
If you’re looking to relax and unwind, where’s your favourite place to go?
I am a keen runner and often use this to unwind if I have been wrangling with words all day. Broadwater Warren nature reserve has some great routes so I head there at the weekend or evenings.
Where’s the best place to meet friends and socialise?
One of my favourite places to go is The Beacon. The food is absolutely delicious and I just really like the décor and the ambience, I think it has a really tasty menu and great service.
What do you do when you spend a weekend or day off in the local area?
My kids are still quite young so often need to let off steam at the weekends. We have membership to Hever Castle, which always has really interesting and engaging things going on for the kids. They have just refurbished the children’s play area to include a huge wooden climbing castle so we often head there at the weekends and the café sells delicious hot chocolate.
Why do you love where you live?
The landscape around me inspires my writing so much and I love the tranquillity that it gives me. My children are growing up in a really natural and safe environment and I am so grateful for the memories that the countryside is creating for them.