After living down here for nearly three years, we eventually got ourselves to Sissinghurst this week.
Our friends from Birmingham had gone home - see later for our outings to Fairlight Hall etc., and Philosopher and Battleaxe fancied another little trip before getting back to normal. It was touch and go - the weather looked very threatening, but we persisted, and fortunately it stayed fine.
The gardens were busy, but not horrendously crowded. It must be terrible in peak holiday time, weekends and hot days.
The gardens were pretty, but, we felt, a little stiff and 'National Trusty'. We prefer the riotous informality of Great Dixter. One big plus, the plants all had labels, which I found very useful - it is annoying seeing something you like but you don't know what it is.
Vita Sackville-West's famous White Garden was looking a bit blowsy, but the dull weather made the whites shine out wonderfully. There was another part of the garden where everything was yellow and orange - again, many of my gardening friends won't have yellow on their patches, but it does look bright on a grey day.
Anyway, here are a few pictures.
High Banks Nursery is just outside Hawkhurst on the way to Cranbrook. It had a really excellent selection of plants, a pet shop and a nice looking tearoom. A good addition to the Battleaxe Best Garden Centre Guide.
So, what else? Last Saturday we took our friends on a lightening trip round the Romney Marsh churches. This was difficult because Sue really likes to look at places in detail. However, going slowly does enable you to see more things. One memorial in Brookland Church caught our attention - it turns out that the woman, Mary, was a smuggler. Whatever she was, it is hard to imagine losing all those children.
We had lunch in the Royal Oak in Brookland - an excellent pub, with very good food - thoroughly recommended.
Our outing was so rushed because we had forgotten that the Fairlight Hall piano recital started at 5pm.
It was by the winner of this year's Piano Concerto Competition, the seventeen-year old Korean, Taek Gi Lee. As last year, the audience were seated outside, in the courtyard, with partial cover from large umbrellas, and the weather was dodgy. We didn't even attempt a picnic this time as it looked like rain.
Last year the sound of the piano was almost drowned out by the wind in the trees. This year, it wasn't windy, and they had cut many of the trees down. The only interruption was from some noisy birds. However, as late arrivals if it had rained we would have got soaked. Even though the lad is a brilliant pianist, as last year, we left at the interval, and showed our friends round the gardens. I was told by someone who stayed for the whole programme that it did indeed rain, and this time the sound of the piano was drowned out by the rain beating on the umbrellas. So we made the right choice.
It is a shame, because it would be a really lovely event on a nice evening. Better luck next year.
When we were walking across the gardens we saw the pianist, sitting on his own, looking very small and rather wistful, presumably getting his mind into gear for the second half. It must be a lonely life for a young boy.
This week I have also had WI things, Stanza Poetry Group and a horrible session in the dentist. Tonight we are off to the Stables Theatre..... what a busy life for a Battleaxe.