Recently, Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) and I have tried to arrange at least one mid-week trip out from home each week. This is, as LSW puts it, to mark that I am now retired and so have the flexibility to visit places during the week rather than during the more crowded weekends. These have to fit around her continuing part time work commitments and, to a lesser extent, my trips to London but we have managed them with reasonable regularity.
Last week, we capitalised on the excellent weather and visited two gardens in the North Cotswolds. Bourton House Gardens is relatively new having been laid out and planted around a beautiful 18th century manor house just 30 years ago. The colourful flower beds, potted tulips, box bush topiary and knot garden were inspiring. Best of all, for me, was a walk around an arboretum, with a simple pamphlet guide, that helped us decide which sorts of trees to plant in our own field alongside the few fruit trees we have already established. Current favourites are Whitebeam and Poplar.
We then went to Snowshill Manor. This turned out to be an interesting, coincidental adjunct to my pondering a couple of weeks ago about the accumulation of material goods and de-cluttering. Prior to being given to the National Trust, the house and garden was owned by Charles Wade, a compulsive collector of items recording craft and workmanship. He lived in a small cottage adjacent to the medieval manor house which he bought specifically to accommodate his large and varied collection of cabinets, artwork, costumes, musical instruments, tools and other artefacts. The dusting challenge for his housekeeper and, now, the National Trust, must be huge!
The collection, and his compact personal accommodation, were interesting but even better were the gardens and the views from them. In weather such as that we have enjoyed through much of May, England can look marvellous and it certainly was in the Cotswolds that day.
We rounded off the trip with a visit to Daylesford luxury farm shop which LSW loves. The shops – even the grocery shelves and the food counters – look rather like art shows. The prices are almost prohibitively geared to out-of-London trippers but the quality is high and several pieces inspired ideas for things that we might try to replicate in some way at home. We stuck with those ideas rather than buy anything more than lunch in the sun.
LSW really enjoyed the Royal wedding last week. Whilst not being particularly interested in the Royal Family myself, I can understand her positive sentiments about the wedding. The bride and groom looked adoring and very happy. Meghan’s mixed race heritage is a welcome extension to the Royal’s outlook, diversity and modernism.
LSW watched the wedding proceedings for hours and then watched the replays. At one point she was watching a replay while I was watching a replay of Forest Green Rovers’ promotion playoff-winning performance at Wembley exactly a year ago. We both had tears of joy in our eyes!
This season, Forest Green Rovers (FGR) barely avoided relegation from their newly elevated status in League 2 of the English Football League. That was good enough for me. The performance was burnished for me by my pride in winning the FGR Prediction League competition (for the second time in 10 years). The competition trophy will have to be found a small space somewhere as other stuff is bundled off to car-boot sales, charity shops or the dump – but only for a year since I doubt I will be so lucky to win next season.