Essex has some lovely countryside but it is remembered not for this but for the influence of the capital on its southern borders. Essex in the national pysche is lets be honest a bit of a dump.
Across the Thames we come to Kent. And in the national psyche it is the Garden of England, rolling hills, oast houses, beautiful castles (Leeds, Hever) houses (Knole) and two Cathedrals (Canterbury & Rochester).
No one mentions that the North Coast of Kent is hardly picturesque. Gravesend? Dartford ? Margate ? Hardly wonderful. Ashford? Maidstone? nope sorry. Lets take Rochester, nope lets not.
Essex is a tip and Kent is the Garden of England pah!
Now don't get me wrong Kent has some lovely buildings, some wonderful gardens, some beautiful countryside but there is a certain amount of smoke and mirrors here.
Sussex, East and West is generally much nicer. Here was Engand made when William the B@st@rd sorry Conqueror landed at Pevensey. Here there are few large towns but plenty of pleasant market towns and villages, it has the downs. To me Sussex is everything Kent thinks it is without the bad parts. Alright Brighton is overrated but if I was forced to move elsewhere in the South East I'd end up here.
Hampshire is an odd county, the New Forest is of course magnificent but it feels like another world, it has some very nice villages but it has Portsmouth and I mean ye gods its bleak. I do like Hampshire though, Portsmouth not withstanding. Winchester, Romsey and the New Forest are worth the admission fee.
Ah we come to Surrey. I don't go there often, not you understand that there is anything WRONG with Surrey its just that well why? Lets take Guildford. My one visit found it to be full of boutiques and the sort of shops I'd cross the street to avoid. Surrey is stockbroker England and I can't warm to it.
Moving on we come to Berkshire (Reading, Slough) and we'll move on to .... ok its not that bad but once you've been you've been. Buckinghamshire is different it has some lovely old buildings, some picture post card villages, some decent market towns. Neighbours they may be but Buckinghamshire is the one to visit. Southern Oxfordshire is also rather nice and to be fair to Berkshire this was nicked from Berkshire!
We've arrived at Hertfordshire my neighbouring county and I can't think of anything to say. It is quintisential South East England rather like Berkshire I find it non-descript.
And then there is London, the Elephant in the corner so to speak. Large chunks of it are ghastly and why would you go there? BUT parts of it are well worth a visit. In the west are the parks, Bushey, Hyde, Richmond, St James, Kensington, Regents. They are magnificent. You have Wrens churches, you have St Paul's, Westinster Abbey and you have the Museums and Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace and Kew and the Tower of London. You have to visit London it contains so very very much, but you don't have to like it!
I haven't mentioned the people, sigh, i'm afraid we live up to our stereotype. Its not that we are unfriendly just that we are "reserved".