roadside attractions

Maidstone, Kent: Teapot Island

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Sometimes I worry that Britain is lacking in the sort of cheesy roadside tourist traps that America does so well.  And then I find a place like Teapot Island.  Boasting over 7000 novelty teapots, Teapot Island seemed like a must-visit attraction on the way to Leeds Castle (which is not actually in Leeds, but in Kent).  I gleefully pictured an island shaped like a teapot with teapots hanging from trees and piled on every available surface, though I strongly doubted this was actually the case.  Indeed, like all true tourist traps, the reality is more prosaic.  Teapot Island isn’t even technically an island, it’s just next to a weir.  And the teapots, except for the oversized one shown above, are kept inside the rather dreary looking building on the right.

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There were some older people sitting around tables outside when we walked up, but no one inside the shop, so we awkwardly stood around for a while until one of the men outside who apparently worked there finally came in and took our money.  £2.50 each, which would have bought us one of the sale teapots in the gift shop, but in the grand scheme of things I can’t do too much bitching about the price.  And it is a shitload of teapots.  As you can see, rows of teapots behind glass lined the walls of the building, which was like some kind of teapot TARDIS (bigger than it looks on the inside).

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I’m not sure that there’s much to be said about the teapots.  They were certainly, erm, novel, and most interests were catered to just by the sheer volume of them on show, but there’s literally nothing else inside this place but teapots.  Teapot Island definitely knows how to specialise, if nothing else.  So, here are some of the highlights.  Excuse the glare in many of the pictures; it’s quite difficult to photograph through glass when there’s light coming in through the back of the cases.

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It took us maybe half an hour to survey the array of teapots on offer.  Naturally, there is a tearoom on the premises, but the atmosphere felt a bit grim and I wasn’t inclined to linger, so I couldn’t tell you how it was.  Going by the clientele, who were on average a good forty years older than us, and the fact that their specialty was bread pudding, which I consider one of the vilest substances known to man, I doubt I would have enjoyed it very much, but I’m maybe being a little harsh here; their bathrooms were very clean, so maybe I would have been pleasantly surprised by the tea as well.  The weir is reasonably pretty, but there’s really no reason to come to Yalding unless you want to see more teapots than you’ve ever seen in your life.  To be honest, this is about what I was expecting, so I wasn’t necessarily disappointed; it was just kind of meh.  2/5.

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