27 July 2016

Great Comp and Riverhill Gardens

Oh dear, It's ages since I posted anything, I seem to be very busy or very lazy! I love the hot weather but as I get older I need regular rests in the shade! 

In June I visited the horticultural gem that is Great Comp. Kent is a very pretty county with lots of interesting places to visit, and Great Comp is described as one its finest gardens. The gardens surround a picturesque 17th century grade II listed farmhouse. The house is built of lime-washed brick with stone dressings, and blocked up brick windows on the building's sides suggest a Tudor origin to the house. The interior features early 17th century panelling and a late 17th century staircase. The stables have been converted into the Old Dairy Tearoom. 

When Roderick and Joyce Cameron purchased the historic house in 1957 they decided to turn the grounds into a garden, beginning with 4.5 acres and later extending to 7 acres. They built an Italian garden, adding handmade follies to create extra interest, using sand and stone from the garden itself. These 'ruins' are an important part of Great Comp, creating a focal point for exploring the gardens. A trio of classical urns, dubbed the 'Longleat Urn', 'Pope's Urn', and the 'Doulton Urn' act as focal points to emphasise points of view.



A quiet corner

A quirky gargoyle






Central sweeping lawns are bordered with lush planting schemes 
of over 30 varieties of magnolias, crocosmias, dahlias and salvias. 



Great Comp specialise in salvias, they have one of the finest collections in Britain.


The magnolias and rhododendrons are underplanted with large swathes of bulbs and hellebores. A woodland area, with winding trails leads through beautifully planted trees and shrubs. Tucked away in a quiet corner is the hydrangea glade which at the time of my visit was just green, it would look stunning now. The thing is with all these lovely gardens, to fully appreciate them you need to visit at various times of the year.




Both formal and informal areas make careful use of statues and romantic follies to add interest.






What a lovely place to call home




Time for a healthy ham salad followed by a scrumptious cream tea!! Needed to maintain my energy levels for the next garden visit. 

Riverhill Himalayan Garden is an historic, listed hillside garden, a very imaginative garden where you can build a den, discover secret pathways and even spot a Yeti. Six generations of the Rogers family have lived at Riverhill and it remains a private home today. 
The gardens are delightful and on a clear day the views are incredible. After wandering around the extensive gardens you can browse in the shop or indulge in more delicious cake and coffee -  can you see a pattern forming? I don't spend all my time eating cake, honest, only on days out! :-)


It was a warm day and a fairly steep incline up to the viewpoint


(no Yetis up here)



but worth it for the pretty wild flower meadow 



magnificent views to the Weald of Kent 


rare an ancient trees, and a fledgling maze that I couldn't get to the centre of!! I mean, look, you can see over the top of the hedges, and I still couldn't find the centre!!



The gardens are renowned for carpets of bluebells in the woodland in early Spring, and a spectacular array of rhododendrons and azaleas in late Spring



Formal gardens


Modern Sculptures



a water feature and a beautifully manicured lawn.


the rose walk

It was about now that it started to rain very slightly 
so we made our way to the cafe for a cup of coffee and cake before departing.

14 July 2016

A Good Read

Testimony by Anita Shreve


This was my latest book group's read, and a very thought provoking one it was too. 

It deals with a sex scandal at a New England boarding school. Three males, aged between 17 and 19, and a 14 year old girl engage in an alcohol-fuelled evening of bad choices, immaturity and hormones. Their sexual acts are videotaped, which then turns up in the headmaster's office. Nothing on the tape suggests the girl is unwilling, she had more sexual experience than most people would expect of a 14 year old. “She was damaged and hungry, and knew how to make others hungry” said one boy, but should the more mature 19 year old have stopped it happening? In the state of Vermont the boys have committed sexual assault. 

Although the sex scandal was the main issue, it was the trigger for the devastating consequences that followed. A town divided, marriages ended, several brilliant futures never realised, and worst of all, a life ended.

The story is told in the form of testimony, hence the title, skillfully drawing in the lives of adults who are indirectly culpable for what transpired. From the man who sold alcohol to teens, to the cafeteria staff, and to those more intimately involved, and finally from those who committed the offence.

To say I really enjoyed this read sounds slightly wrong given the subject matter, but this is such a well crafted book, it pulled me in from the very beginning. Shreve explores human failings and desires, the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas. I like the way she tells the story one step at a time through different voices and perspectives.



8 July 2016

A Good Week, except for the tooth!

The tooth, oh dear the tooth, I will come to that later. 

Last Saturday I visited the town where I used to live 7 years ago. For 17 of the 20 years I lived there I belonged to a drama group. This year is the 60th anniversary of the founding of the group and they had a bit of  do - a splendid dinner dance in a very nice golf club. It was a very special night, I hadn't seen some of the people for over 10 years, we had great fun talking, laughing and reminiscing over photographs, programmes and my scrap books that I started from my very first production. 

On Wed my gorgeous grandson competed in the high jump at the Essex Championships and came first. He is officially the best high jumper in Essex in year 7. I'm beaming with pride as I write this. 

And now the tooth, the broken tooth and not much left of the tooth. As I was biting into a sandwich I could feel something hard that was clearly not part of a soft sandwich. The eye tooth on the left of my mouth had broken, completely broken away leaving just the root part in the gum and jagged edges around it!!! Thank goodness there is no pain, I seem to remember many years ago a dentist removing the nerve for some reason and saying that eventually the tooth would die and fall out. The gap feels cavernous and looks horrendous but it doesn't show when I'm talking, I just have to remember not to laugh too heartily!! I have an appointment on Monday to see what my options are, goodness knows how much a repair is going to cost. I will keep you posted.

Last night my bookgroup met to discuss our latest book which we all agreed was a very good read, more about that later.

And to round off the week I'm joining some friends for a picnic at our sports field this evening, egg mayo sandwiches, ham sandwiches, pork pies, pate, crusty bread, cream scones, rocky road bites, Eton mess and lots of my favourite bubbly :-) The weather isn't as glorious as yesterday but it's sunny and warm, although I will definitely have to take a cardigan for later!!

Hope you have a lovely weekend.

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