Holiday 2 - Europe
I've left the hot humid garden island of Singapore behind. Here's my second holiday journal page, beginning in Europe, ducking efficiently underneath the English Channel and ending up in front of the Cordylines in Kew Gardens, London. Be very impressed!
Shakespeare in Brussels
Many Plane Travel Hours Later, Friday Morning, in Germany...
My first European trains - an ICE train to Koln, and a French train to Brussels. But I am too tired to properly enjoy them. And no-one is replying to my texts - older lady texter, taking ages to organise message to younger son and partner back in New Zealand: I.....a.m......i.n.....F.r.a.n.k.f.u.r.t.... Nothing in reply!
The irony is that I have rarely communicated with my family in this way before. Now I am zooming around the world, waiting for planes and trains, and the only messages I receive are from Vodaphone. A very tired humph!
Later, by a Few Days...
The Garden of Liza
My first European stop has been Liza's Brussels garden - the most colourful private garden I have ever been in! A real celebration, with beautiful roses and perennials all in bright rainbow colours. The plants have been playing the nicest tricks on me, too. Late in the afternoon I've noticed all the vibrant reds and pinks. Then the yellow Coreopsis has jumped out at night, while in the mornings I've only seen the blue Salvias and the white Shasta daisies.
This is an extremely well-fed, well nurtured garden - a five star hotel for beautiful flowers and plants, where each is treated like an honoured, pampered guest. It makes my own establishment seem rather like a community doss-house, where plants take their chance in an old bunkroom, and the proprietor has wandered off leaving a 'Back in 10 minutes' sign in the lobby.
Goodbye to Belgium
Right. My Brussels part of my grand holiday is over. My touring highlight has definitely been the trip to the town of Bruges, where we joined the other tourists on the canal. Cobblestoned streets, old churches - I saw my first real Michelangelo, a statue of the Madonna with a very slim-line child. Oddly, visitors were taking photographs inside the church.
I regret that the beautiful town square was full of groups of older women tourists (who should know better) smoking! But the quaint old streets which surrounded it were entertaining as groups of ancient black-leathered bikers from the Netherlands and green T-shirted cyclists on eco-bicycles passed by.
Tuesday 12th June
Now I am about to get on the Eurostar from Brussels to London. My plan is simple - if I get bored on the train I have my very first Sudoko puzzle to attempt. I plan to have it finished by the time we pop out in England. There's nothing like optimism!
When I reach London I am off on the mid-day Thames river boat to Kew Gardens. I did check the times of the river boats, but I deliberately didn't read about or research the gardens. I will just have to use my New Zealand eyes. Hee hee - this should be interesting!
Important Message of Artistic Integrity - If I'm disappointed with Kew I'm jolly well allowed to say so! And I'm allowed to be cheeky about it.
Later That Day, In London, Apres Kew...
I've completed my first official garden engagement in the UK. At first it seemed dumpy and uninspiring, but I warmed up to Kew as soon as I came across the huge Victorian glasshouse. And a newly built one, state-of-the-art, complete with many diverse computer-controlled climate rooms, and a gorgeous cactus collection. I giggled at the New Zealand Cordylines - hello, old friends, and bravely asked a passing British gent to take my photograph. He called them Palm trees.
Kew as a garden park was far too noisy, and I was the only visitor looking skywards whenever a large jet plane screeched and boomed overhead (average one per minute, descending into Heathrow). Oh dear - the brochure asked us to respect the quiet and serenity of the place.
But - hey! I think I ended up enjoying my visit. I certainly had fun riding on the slow bus for gentlewomen, who were discussing the movements of the royal family members as if they were familiar neighbours. I loved the river trip - the Thames is an impressive river, and the succession of bridges are really beautiful when you slowly putter underneath them. London landmarks like the Houses of Parliament and the Battersea Power Station look grand from the water. I think I actually like being a tourist, too! At least I haven't lost anything yet.
New Kew Glass-House, with Lavender
Now begins my real adventure - the train trip from London to Inverness in Scotland, my own sleeper berth, and the promise of visiting the famed gardens of Scotland. I am excited and nervous. Will I enjoy driving around the Highlands? Will I get lonely? Will I find what I'm looking for? This is my intrepid older-lady adventure - please don't laugh!
And that Sudoko puzzle, started as the Eurostar train plunged gracefully underwater? I only got five or six numbers filled in. Hopeless!