Sunday, June 11, 2017

The rest of half term.

So what else did we get up to over the rest of the week that Martin had off? Well we actually managed to pack quite a bit in.

After his usual round of sunday morning golf, Martin and I were going to have a chillaxing afternoon, but the kids phoned to say they were coming up for a cup of tea. Next thing we know we were scrabbling around in the freezer to find food for the bbq! We ate so late that the boys ended up staying for a sleepover. 

We wanted to start tackling our list of jobs but we found we couldnt even start them before clearing out the shed as we couldn't find any of the tools we needed amongst the tangle. The boys had a great time as we tried to keep them amused with footballs and tents at the same time as sorting rubbish from good.

Once the boys had gone home and we had put everything back tidily, Martin had several trips to the tip to get rid of all the unwanted shed stuff and accumulated junk from the attic. 

The main job we wanted to tackle was to finally properly lay the patio outside the back of the lounge. When we moved in the man selling the house had bought lots of block paving bricks to redo the hard standing for the cars. We had used most of them instead to create a patio on the left hand side of the garden, but we still had quite a number left over.  In removing the decaying decking we had discovered quite a bit of concrete under it, and although we had removed most of it and grassed over, there was still a substantial bit on the right hand side of the garden. We had taken out the built in cupboard in the conservatory to allow access into the garden (who makes a built in cupboard across a conservatory door?) and had temporally put the blocks on top of the concrete but this all needed properly laying. We were also short several bricks to cover the whole area, so it was a trip to travis-perkins to order some more.  
We took the opportunity to also stock up on our weekly groceries before taking ourselves off to the cinema to watch Johnny Depp's next Pirates of the Caribbean adventure which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Martin set to laying the bricks we did have while I spent the day in my craft room sewing up a storm and researching where we were going to go for our Finley and Beckett adventure the next day.

Finley had asked for another garden/picnic adventure and I had toyed with the idea of Hole Place until I discovered they had no picnic areas or facilities. At the last moment I opted for Riverhill Himalayan Gardens. It was a great choice. Lots for the boys to do and plenty of walking and exercise for the grown ups. Little in the way of formal gardens but a wonderful day out all the same.

First stop the maze.

Then some tree trunk climbing. You could go into the woods and make your own dens if you wanted too. The boys next choice was the play park though.

Laura did have to use her teacher voice at some particularly obnoxious boys who kept bloking the tunnel slide by climbing up from the bottom instead of using the ladder.

Of course the whole point of the exercise is the picnic. Finley decided he wanted to go 'up' for this, and although it was rather a steep bit of a walk it was worth the effort as the north downs suddenly blossomed out in front of us. 


Sorry not the best photo but I was too busy enjoying to snap. 
There was still plenty to fill our afternoon too. 
Wandering paths through the woods to explore, 

The hidden boat swing

The formal garden
 Complete with water feature

And a stick making craft activity which I think Laura got most out of since she made a hedgehog, and a stick..lady. 

As if our day had not been full enough, we had agreed to meet Wayne who had stayed home for a parcel delivery, and go out for a pub meal with the boys. Randomly Laura chose the Royal Oak at Nonington. The weather was still beautiful and so we sat in the huge garden while the boys climbed on the climbing frame and just generally had a brilliant time. The offical time for food was after 6 and since we had forgotten to check this, we turned up a full 2 hours too early! The landlord was fantastic though and agreed to cook ours a tad early as the boys were getting hungry. And tasty food it was too!

We had to stay in for the block paving bricks to be delivered, so we pootled about and once they did arrive Martin started to lay them.  We were pleasantly surprised when two little boys heads appeared round the garden gate. Before long more fun was being had by all, a lot of water followed by home made pizza teas.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Chelsea - flowers and gardens and all that stuff.

This week has been a busy week. Martin has had a weeks holiday and we have been having lots of fun but at the same time working pretty hard on catching up with all the maintenance house type jobs. But we started the week with a treat I had been looking forward to for some pretty long years - a visit to the Chelsea flower show.

One of the main reasons I joined the RHS (alongside cheap or free entry into gardens) was to get tickets to the Chelsea Flower show. Wayne had bought his mum tickets many years ago for a birthday gift but she hadn't

wanted to go or had been ill or something so he very generously gifted them to us, and we had a brilliant day out. Since then I had been hankering to go back. Finally this was the year.
Sadly for me I chose the year that many gardens had withdrawn through lack of sponsorship but at the time of booking the tickets I wasn't to know that. We had tried to book for the Thursday but all RHS tickets (not public) were sold out so we settled for the Friday - yes as it turned out the hottest day of the year so far, but again I wasn't to know that either.

We packed a huge picnic and set out full of enthusiasm expecting to have another brilliant time. I have to point out that I don't do heat very well and was already flagging by the time we got to Sloan square. We had to walk from there as the local bus service had been suspended for the day. I was surprised that although there was a noticeable increase of police presence as we walked along, once there security (in view of recent events) was not that fierce. Martin was jokingly asked if our picnic knives were for our picnic but that was it.

Unlike the first time we had visited, the trade stalls were all over the place where as before they had been more confined to one trading street.  Alongside the fact of the reduced number of gardens and the increase in plot size for the traders, and the fact that many traders had decorated their trade stalls to look like gardens it became difficult to actually find the designed gardens.

 We wanted to buy this but didnt have enough cash, they didnt do credit card and neither did they do shipping. Plus we didnt want to carry it around all day. 

None of the eight show gardens inspired us in the least. There seemed to be a perchance for 'weeds' as they all tried to show us how to encourage green into grey Britain.  

On our previous trip and to garden shows and visits to RHS gardens, the viewing gardeners had been very polite but all we seemed to meet were rude and ill mannered impatient members of the public who pushed and shoved to get where they wanted with no thought for any one else. Poor Martin never got to the front to see even one of the gardens. Maybe it was the hot weather but this was not something I had encountered before and I found it very off putting. 

After only an hour we were ready for lunch but finding a shady spot was really hard. Every bit of dim lit space seemed to be taken. Finally we found a small spot behind one of the trading sheds, not a picturesque  place but as least cool.  

Back to the fray and I really wanted to see the much publicised Radio 2 gardens. These were at the other end of the show (well they would be wouldn't they?) and by the time we got to them we were very hot and sweaty.  They were a total disappointment. They had seemed huge on the TV but were not much bigger than the Artisan gardens (which were tiny). Not only that the gap to look into them was no bigger than the average 5 bar gate with 40 or so people trying to squeeze into the space to view them.  And to my mind they honestly were not worth viewing. I have seen better simply walking along our road - which is saying something as they are all old age pensioners who do not garden round near us! 

Mary Berry's edible garden.  I found it very messy and difficult to understand all the vegetables ripe at the same time. I grew up in a time when the whole of the back yard was usually given up to veggies and it always looked far neater and interesting than this.

The sound garden.An interesting concept, speakers under the water made different ripples in the tank depending on the frequency.  Trouble was I had expected sound in the garden. It was silent. I also think 'garden' was pushing it.

 This was the biggest disappointment.Sarah Raven's cut flower garden ... except where were the flowers?  Sarah was actually working in the garden when I got to the front, but came out to go off someplace. She was waylaid by some woman and although she was not actually rude to the lady praising her books, it was obvious she didn't want to stop and talk to the public. 

We took another drinks break. Opting for a half pint from the bar as all our picnic drinks had been warmed up in the 30 degree heat, we tried to find some shade and a seat at the band stand. On our previous visit we had been treated to a rag band and then a jazz band. This time it was an opera singer who was promising us 2 whole (boring) hours of opera and musical songs. She was very good but 
rather a narrow genre for such a big crowd?

 We had to sit in full sun too as there was no shady spots available. NB I did love her gown.

Our final stop was the Pavillion. I had been looking forward to this part best. Sadly it was so humid inside the tent that after only half an hour we had to make our way outside again. It would also seem that all the wonderful displays made from flowers were a thing of the past and it was straightforward tables of samples of flowers/plants lined up. 

Fed up by only 2 oclock we made our way home. I doubt we will be going again.