On With the Show
About to enter the Chelsea Flower Show thru London Gate
The Mooseys Country Garden UK Team arrived at the London Gate Entrance an hour early. After giving up our seats to some old lady English gardeners, we joined the lengthening queue. Tickets had long since sold out - the media attention on the 2004 Chelsea Flower Show has been intense, with several hours of gardening television shows each night. The sheer size of the event was just beginning to dawn on us.
A Few Last Minute Checks...
Tickets, notebooks, cameras, camcorders and tickets are checked. Everyone is picking up. Old lady English gardeners were peering ahead. Middle Aged Gardening England craned forward trying to look beyond the gate and inside. We shuffled closer to the entrance.
A Friendly Familiar steward bellowed slightly risque jokes and shared jibes with the Old Lady English Gardeners to keep the queues spirits up. He was a genuine man and must have made thousands of people smile all week. He would set the tone for the rest of the day.
The sun was still making a strong claim on the sky despite dotted grey smudges of cloud. Strong enough for a good dose of sun-cream for the sensible. The queueing and the obligatory bag-search took surprisingly little time. We were in.
It is at this point that I should mention that I've never been to a flower show before Chelsea 2004 and didn't really know what to expect. My impressions immediately after entering were firstly relief at being inside the show and secondly feeling a little overwhelmed by the swarming crowds of flower show goers.
The Chelsea Flower festival?
A Middle England Gardening Festival?
The thronging buzz of gardenly hub-bub and endless visual distractions made me feel like I was at a music festival. Had we found middle-aged England's gardening equivalent to the Glastonbury Festival? Body piercings and tattoos traded for fold-up chairs, packed lunches and thermos flasks of tea stowed in bags?
The size of the crowd had the Mooseys Country Garden UK team quickly formulating a new 'when lost' procedure. We found our bearings, or thought we found our bearings, and merged with the crowd of people heading along North Ranelagh Way towards Infirmary Gate. Seasoned flower show-goers can skip to the next paragraph now. After arriving at said gate, and realising that we were about to complete the shortest visit of the Chelsea Flower Show possible, we turned around and retraced our steps back to the London Gate Entrance.
As always seems to happen when there are interesting gardens, plants and paths to explore, we didn't make it back to London Gate - we re-merged with the crowd, turned left and begun our Tour of the 2004 Chelsea Flower Show.