My Holiday Part Two
My lovely holiday continues. I go to North Devon for some English countryside - and then zoom under the English Channel on a train to Belgium. Just a little rain... falling from the skies...
Monday 23rd May
I have decided on a whim to get out of London, city of beige buildings and grey strangers - I'm off to North Devon to experience some green rural lanes and visit a walled garden. Yippee! Paddington Station, and a proper train to Exeter.
View from a North Devon Window
Winsford Walled Garden
Great excitement - I see my first English sheep, and a church spire on a distant green hill. This is the England of my over-romantic childhood memories. The countryside is very 'pondy' and I get glimpses of a canal, narrowboats slowly cruising, a lock, picture-book farm buildings, hedgerows...
I'm staying the night at the Winsford Walled Garden B'n'B. My window looks out on the most beautiful golden-shrubbed garden. Surprise - it's still raining, and I've just spent a couple of misty hours with the owner/restorer/nurturer (aptly web-named Muddywellies) looking at the garden and the restored Victorian greenhouses. It's a lovely place, and I'm thrilled that Muddywellies has had the courage and passion to 'do his own garden thing', while using and fully respecting the site's heritage.
More English Rain...
It rains, and rains - my host, a dedicated English gardener, is undaunted. He does have strict garden footwear protocols, though - imagine Muddywellies needing a name change to Muddyslippers!
Tuesday 24th May
Right. I am back on a train after my quick visit to North Devon (lots of cups of tea, enthusiastic talking, and many many photographs). Paddington Station, and the Number 36 bus here I come. Hopefully this time I will get off at the right stop (oops). I will put on my London grumpy-I-know-where-I'm-going face. Tomorrow - more intrepid travelling, this time to Brussels on the Eurostar! Must check the map - I am actually going on a train underneath the English Channel. Moosey eyes will gaze upon French and Belgium fields for the very first time.
Later, Back In South London...
I've just had my first proper long conversation with Englishman-in-Suit on my London bus about the English weather. Sun - no, rain - no, sun - ah! A rainbow! More rain... And I patted my first English dog. I am starting to settle in... It's good to be back home. Tomorrow I actually go to Europe, for the very first time!
Off to Brussels!
It's Wednesday, and there is incredible anticipation - I am on my Eurostar train at Waterloo Station. Don't laugh - I am only a sweet old colonial lady, and we just don't have such grand scale travel.
But I have so many silly questions - How fast will we go? Will it feel like we are under the sea? Will I know when the 'Chunnel' starts? Hmm... My carriage is full of elegantly coiffured soft grey-heads. The train manager's announcement - we will soon be entering the tunnel. I feel like snoozing, but I am determined not to miss 'the moment'. Aargh! Darkness - we are in, and under!
After twenty minutes or so out we pop into France. Bonjour! Then we zoom through Belgium to Brussels Station. Oops. I can't find my friend, and I've left my specs in the London flat, so I can't really read anything. Then the funniest announcement broadcast three times loudly all over the station - 'Would Miss Moosey please come to the Railtour Office...' - Hello, Liza!
I'm sitting in my friend's kitchen, having wandered around her garden twice taking pictures, meeting and touching her plants, and just breathing in the garden air. The roses are almost in bloom, the pots have come out of glasshouse hibernation, everything is waking up, ready to burst into summer colour. And it's raining!
A Private Garden in Brussells
I am so happy to be here. En route we had a quick walk through La Grande Place for some instant Brussels history. Yippee! I am a lucky visitor to be welcomed so warmly and shown around by my new friends.