I refuse to apologise for a second post basically spamming you all with images of beautiful places, green and growing things. It's that time of year. Come back to me in winter if bleak and grey views are more your thing.
There is merit in both, of course.
But June birthdays basically insist on lush greeness and sunshine. We'll just have to cope with it.
Yes, I did say birthday. It was N's last Tuesday (it was also the Kid's but he is hundreds of miles away in Sunderland so had to make do with a northern beach and 24 hours access to my credit card for his birthday. There was a spend limit, don't worry - I'm not going to be presented with a bill for thousands).
Anyway, back to the green spam. It being N's birthday, I took him to one of my favourite places, obviously. In my defense, when asked what he'd like to do on his birthday, he seemed astonished that there was another option other than "working" and then shrugged. So.
Behold! Hidcote Manor Gardens...
Green everywhere! Wisteria on entry! Of course I brought a guidebook. I would have done on my first visit, years and another lifetime ago. Back when I was married and the Kid was small. Really another lifetime.
Anyway, the original guidebook has long been lost in a house move or during one of my ruthless clear outs.
If you've never been, and know nothing of Hidcote, it's a garden set in rolling Cotswold hills (are there any other sort? I mean, come on Cotswolds, enough with the rolling). Owned back in the distant mists of the early 20th Century, by one Lawrence Johnston and his formidable mother, Gertrude Winthrop - frankly, a name that instantly makes you think of back boards, no children at the table and a disdain for untidy emotions.
It's held up as an example of an Arts and Crafts garden. I'm not really sure what that means outside of Art and Architecture, beyond knowing that William Morris was your main man for that sort of thing (he's also one of my heroes) but I'm hoping things like that will become clear when I start my horticultural training later this year.
Whatever it might mean to gardens, what it really means to the visitor, is a garden that is so beautiful, your eyes ache with looking, your neck from the constant turning and your legs from adopting what I call the Heritage Walk.
If you've ever been in a museum, you know exactly what that is. That specific sloooww way of walking and bending and looking that we all adopt when we're on National Trust territory. It's tough on the old muscles. Culture is the hard core workout no one ever talks about.
N had never been to Hidcote before, so this was a treat for both of us. As I reminded him on several occasions.
There were newts and potting sheds and meandering paths that sometimes echoed the stream but mostly didn't. The sun was glorious, shining down on our rapidly burning shoulders all day. The queue for the socially distanced cafe was long and the woman your standard NT level passive-aggressive.
We both got serious succulent envy, decided we need more orange flowers in our life and wondered how the neighbours would react to bare breasted statuary suddenly turning up in our garden. Possibly a little too well, so it won't.
Besides, I can still remember similar such things that took pride of place in my grandparent's garden, along with a (un)helathy collection of gnomes, concrete animals, mottos and the occasional plastic bird. When they moved, I was suddenly presented with a great number of them. It took 2 house moves to finally "lose" the last and I'm not introducing more.
As I type this, I'm looking down over our own, small, garden. Very much not Arts and Crafts but the honeysuckle is trailing over the makeshift arch, the wisteria is about to burst forth and the whisper of the sweetcorn leaves in their pots is very satisfying. Mabel is lying in the centre of the handkerchief-sized lawn, waving at flies with her eyes half closed.
There are no cats at Hidcote. They really are missing a trick.