For some months I have been toying with an idea: finding a picture of something or somewhere in each county of England that encapsulates the spirit of that county. Part of the reason for doing nothing about the idea is that although I have visited or driven through every county in England - at least, I think I have - I have certainly not taken photographs wherever I have been. However, I have decided to set myself a challenge. My goal is to beg, steal or borrow pictures where necessary and provide a scenic tour of England by featuring a different county each Saturday.
The first county on the list is Kent, situated at the most south-easterly corner of the country. It seems a pretty good place to start as this is the county of my birth. It is also the nearest to the continent (as Europe is known to us), so it is the first county that many Europeans see when they visit England. Kent calls itself the Garden of England on account of the many fruit orchards and hop fields there once were in the county. Sadly, many of them have now disappeared and the county is better known as the route of the high-speed rail link to France and beyond as the route of the M20 motorway linking London to Dover, the busiest port in the world, and ferries for Europe. But Kent is more than that. There are the extensive marshes in the north of the county along the Thames and Medway estuaries and, in the south-east, Dungeness, a wild and desolate promontory which is the site of a nuclear power station and a landfall for many migrating birds. And Kent is also the cradle of British Christianity and the "home" of the Church of England's senior Archbishop, Canterbury. In past centuries Kent was also the site of two of the counties main naval dockyards - Deptford and Chatham. In fact, Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory, was built at Chatham.
Talking of historic buildings, two of the county's castles are very well-known: Hever and Leeds.
My first thought for a picture was Canterbury cathedral but then I had second thoughts. Why not use a picture of something which is the first many people see of England? So here are the white cliffs of Dover.