London is a city in which I have spent plenty of time over the course of my life, but it’s been a couple of years since my last visit. This recent sojourn was prompted by the birthday of one of my oldest and dearest friends, providing a rare opportunity for a day out unencumbered by parenting responsibilities. There are few things I love more than walking around a city – navigating your way through its streets you really get to experience the details and fabric of its life. So, before I joined up for an afternoon of craft beers, I took the chance to have a meander. The area around Kings Cross, which I remember being fairly grotty in the past, has been undergoing major redevelopment. It is now awash with smart new office and apartment buildings, surrounding public squares with trickling fountains, interspersed with designer shops and high-end restaurants. However, the place that I wanted to seek out was the antithesis of these symbols of modern living.
Oh Portmeirion, how I love you! I think this week’s visit was maybe my 6th or 7th. The previous three times had been for Festival No.6. Fun though those weekends were, it has to be said that Portmeirion is a far lovelier proposition when it is not swarming with 10,000 bearded hipsters. On that most perfect of things, a British summer’s day – warm but not hot, hazy sunshine, a light breeze – we this time pottered around with toddler in tow.
When the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) announced that after many years of searching for a suitable site it would be establishing a new garden in the North-West of England, I was over the moon. Despite having been a member for several years I have never actually visited an RHS garden so the prospect of having one on the doorstep, relatively speaking, was cause for celebration. The news that the RHS was offering members the chance to tour the Bridgewater site while under development was an opportunity not to be missed. So earlier this week myself, and my garden designer friend of The Cheshire Garden, headed off up the motorway to see what was in store, and we were not disappointed!
After a none too subtle hint (i.e. an email with a url) one of my Christmas presents was a book called ‘Green Escapes: The Guide to Secret Urban Gardens’ by Dr Toby Musgrave. It was published earlier this year and I’d clocked it in a gardening magazine and filed it away as a potential giftette for when the question came. It seemed like suitable gift material – something you want but somehow cannot justify buying for yourself. Now I have my sticky little paws on it I thought I’d share a few initial thoughts on whether it meets expectations.
As my year away from work on maternity leave was drawing to a close – a time I will always look back on as one of those charmed periods you occasionally get in life – we decided to take ourselves off to the beautiful Lake District for a cheeky mid-weeker. We stayed in Keswick which was the destination for many of my own childhood family holidays and, as my husband observed, a place I tend to drift back to when trying to cope with periods of transition. With the inevitable anxiety about my forthcoming return to work, settling our little boy into nursery, and my husband juggling his own freelance work with increased childcare, a few days away in the breathtaking scenery surrounding Derwentwater was just the ticket. Seeking to stretch the holiday out just a little longer on a glorious September morning we decided to stop off at Holehird Gardens, just outside Windermere, before making the journey home. Continue reading