Coming up for air

Coming up for air in Kent

George Orwell wrote a book called  “Coming Up For Air”.  This was about change, loss and reconciliation.  He returned to his hometown to find that over the years he had been away it had changed.   Housing estates had been built. People had gone as has familiar buildings and shops.  There was a disappointment in these changes and to a degree mourning for what had been. There was also hope and reconciliation with the past.  I had the pleasure yesterday of a day out with Carolyn, my wife, to Kent and her childhood village, South Darenth. So what was her experience of “Coming up for Air?”  This a photographic record of the visit.

Dartford park and library


Visits to Dartford for a young girl from a small village was always fun. A visit to the library, games in the park and if lucky, an ice cream.  The library building had not changed but inside was bright, modern and warm.  Lovely shapes and colours inside contrasted against the war memorial and blue of the sky. A beautiful Kent spring day.

Lunch in the park

Fantastic coffee and sandwiches for lunch in the park! Louis our Jack Russell enjoyed the tuna sandwich.   A lovely building, bright and modern that stands out against the blue of the sky.

South Darenth, Kent


The river Darent flows through north Kent and feeds a number of lakes, ponds and industry. Much of the mills’ and factories that, until lately, were dependent on the water from the river have closed.  Despite this, many of the buildings have been repurposed or converted into flats and homes.  Carolyn sets the scene:

Paper mill conversion

The paper mill chimney dominated the village and despite the mill being closed, it still does. This site has been converted into a mix of light commerce and domestic usage. An interesting selection of buildings whose angles and shapes were accentuated by the strong winter afternoon light.  Carolyn’s mother worked  in this building.  The familiar is gone.  That said, this is a lovely development.

Jolly Millers

This was the local pub where her Father enjoyed a pint before the Sunday roast.  Music and memories.

New road

New road is a steep hill. Her home sits at the top of the road with views of open fields to the front, and the busy railway line into London at the back.

Walk up the hill

No garages, mock Tudor framed houses, a pub and lots of cars.  Difficult for families with young children.


Back to school

Primary is a formative period for any child and the games played made the best use of trees and surroundings.  Some things don’t change!


Her maiden name? The clue is in the street name, almost.

St Mary’s Horton Kirby, Kent

School services at Easter and Christmas brought the children together to celebrate and share. The church grounds are beautiful and peaceful, surrounded by Kent hops fields.

Reynolds Farm

We drove past the barn and buildings and I had to stop and take photographs top capture the angles, light, textures and colour.


Gravesend burn

The day ended with a visit to Emmanuel Baptist Church to support a 24-hour praise.


A day of variety, memories and fun

Our day was a fulfilling experience. I enjoyed a deeper understanding of Carolyn’s time in Kent. She was thrilled with visiting familiar places. Had much changed over 30+ years? Yes, of course, it had.  The use of buildings had changed. Shops and pubs have changed.  People have gone.  The beauty and character of this part of Kent remain.  A welcome tonic and well worth “coming up for air”.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.