Last weekend Niki a long time friend and follower of this blog came to stay for a few days. whilst sitting in the sunshine having a cup of tea and a chat, it occurred to me that it might be nice to have someone else write something about my little bit of heaven.
Niki agreed to take up the challenge so here it is, the first of an occasional series of posts by a guest blogger. Hope you enjoy, I did when it arrived in my inbox this afternoon.
Visiting The Vegetable Plot – Living The Good Life For Real!
As I arrived in Saturday morning sunshine, the President was washing the Bat mobile and faithful servant Gibson was in attendance, minus lead but more of that later. The First Lady was very welcoming and asked if I wanted the guided tour of the estate, I didn’t need much encouraging.
The famous vegetable plot is better in real life, the smell of herbs and freshly watered earth and the sight of the tenacious seedlings pushing through the soil is very grounding (sorry). The neat rows of greenery under their protective coverings, the organised and industrious green house, sheds and water butts all go to show an enthusiastic gardener in a well loved and looked after space, almost makes you want to turn vegetarian, there’s so many delicious dishes you can grow in a relatively small space, not sure I could keep up with the maintenance though (nor give up bacon), home grown gardeners have very strong backs and supple knees, neither of which I’m blessed with.
It was great to see the real thing after looking at the photos and reading the blog (and checking out Google maps and street view if I’m honest) and after seeing the accommodation provided and care & attention given to the other residents, Gerry, Margot and Babs, I was looking forward to checking in.
After lunch (and after much searching for the lead) we walked down to local beach; a mere stroll away down a pretty lane, past typical seaside bungalows onto a windy cliff with lovely views out to the Isle of Wight.
The weather was sunny and clear and we could see flotillas of yachts taking advantage of the wind around the Needles. After peering over perilously close to the edge, we scrambled down a pebbly path to the beach and could look back at where we’d been; I had no idea I’d been standing on such a crumbling cliff!
I was also surprised at the colours of the sandy strata, a vertical variety I’d not seen before. Recent rock falls were evident, tumbling down to the beach but not quite reaching the water’s edge due to groynes and bungalow size boulders placed to prevent further erosion.
After stumbling and scrambling along the beach and walking back up to street level, we were rewarded with a New Forest Ice Cream, all the more delicious when eaten by the seaside.
Back at the White House, I combed my hair back into a reasonable shape, the wind had been a little lively, and settled into the ‘garden room’ with a homemade patisserie topped with home grown strawberries, the best I’ve ever tasted, honest!
Very satisfying to look out over the garden where the fruit you are eating was grown, even if that was the only one I tasted that weekend, you know who you are J. Still I had bought with me my home made peanut butter chocolate squares, I only visited for 3 days, the squares only lasted 2.
Still no sign of the lead.
The day was topped by an evening visit to local retro curry house; it has to be seen to be believed. A mix between the inside of an old railway carriage, a marquee from a 1980’s wedding and an explosion at a chandelier / mirrored mosaic factory, fabulous!
The next day started slow, Sunday slow; gardening in slippers, feeding the guests whilst wearing dressing gown and wellies, very Good Life. This was in order to conserve our energy as it would be needed later for a trip round the biggest garden centre I’ve ever seen, honest!
How I didn’t just move in, there’s practically everything you need; comfy chairs, lotions and potions, food & drink, funny tea towels, quirky handbags, cute animals and those little candle holders you just can’t get enough of, or at least spend a fortune I’ll never know, I showed amazing shopping restraint I didn’t I know I had in me!
Back at the White House, after all that restraint, the only thing to do was collapse the garden in the sunshine with a herbal tea, but no, I had my homework to do and was presented with a stack of books that proceeded to increase my knowledge about chickens and vegetable growing tenfold, who knew that fowls could be so fab and allotments so amazing? The lady of the house could not rest however as gardening duties called and as I was left in charge of keeping an eye on the live chickens, the lady presented a pre-prepared one, it was delicious, sorry G, M and B!
Still no sign of lead.
The next day we did give into our material needs and ran round Christchurch in the rain, with its individual boutiques and quaint cinema, the foyer being an experience in itself, it’s a welcome step back in shopping time. Three hours later we returned to the house with shiny trinkets and pretty bunting for the summer house and a jolly jumper for me.
Lunch was packed in a bag, the dog was packed into the car and we headed off to KeyHaven for a bracing walk along the embankment between the sea and old salt marshes. We were even closer to the Isle of Wight and it was even windier so there were even more boats bobbing about on the sea. We saw seagulls, swans and seaweed; Gibson saw puddles, people and pebbles.
Back in the car and back to the house for afternoon tea and cake then all too soon came the time to depart. I had a lovely time at a lovely location, both wild and tamed, flat and hilly, but best of all good company. And yes, the lead was found exactly where he’d put it.