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Victoria Hislop's Kent favourites
By Jo Pattison
BBC Kent

Victoria Hislop
Victoria believes the best view in Kent is from Sissinghurst Castle tower

Victoria Hislop was born in Kent and grew up in Tonbridge. After living in London for 20 years she returned to the county.

She now lives with her husband Ian of 'Have I Got News For You' fame and her two teenage children in Sissinghurst.

Following a decade of travel and feature writing, she wrote her debut novel The Island, which was the second highest selling novel in 2006.

This year's follow-up, The Return, has already featured on best-seller lists.

What's your favourite part of the county?

My favourite part of Kent is between Sissinghurst and Tenterden. There are some beautiful villages and lovely woodland, and lots of contrasting landscapes.

What's your favourite building?

It's probably quite controversial, but I love the Assembly Rooms in Tunbridge Wells. It's a fantastic space and I have had memorable and happy times there for my whole life - from pantomime when I was five and Status Quo when I was 15, to "Joseph" and Jools Holland in more recent times. It has a great programme of events and I know I am going to have a good time when I go there.

What's the best view in Kent?

The best view in Kent is the one from the top of the tower at Sissinghurst Castle. It gives a snapshot of all that's beautiful about this country - with oast houses, the glimpse of a small church, rolling fields and woodlands.

What's the most interesting shop?

There is a wonderful shop in Cranbrook called Siete that sells irresistible shoes and bags that are better than anything you could buy in Sloane Street. They have recently opened a branch in Tunbridge Wells too.

Jools Holland
Victoria enjoyed seeing Jools Holland at the Assembly Halls

What's your favourite music venue, theatre or cinema?

The Kino a small privately owned cinema, opened a few years ago in Hawkhurst. It has huge comfortable seats and you can sip your cappuccino or chilled wine while you watch your movie. It's a really inspired place and only 10 minutes from where I live.

How would you like to spend your ideal day off in Kent?

My ideal day off would probably be spent going for a walk by the sea and having a picnic, then driving home via Leeds Castle and, as the sun sets, lying on a rug at one of their concerts and watching fireworks going up into the sky. It would have to be a sultry day in August of course!

What annoys you most about Kent?

The only annoying thing about Kent is that whenever weather conditions aren't perfect the trains get disrupted. If we could have a perfect train line to London, free of leaves on the line or trees across it, it would be faultless.

If you could travel to any time period in Kent, past or future, where would you go?

I wouldn't mind a glimpse of Tunbridge Wells in the early days of The Pantiles. I would love to have seen the expression on Queen Victoria's face when she sipped those medicinal waters! I wouldn't really want to see it in the future in case Kent has become too concreted over with housing and roads - that would be heartbreaking.

What one thing would make Kent better?

I would love to see better bus services between small villages - it would allow teenage children to be more independent and would probably be welcomed by people of all ages.


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