Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Daffodil Weekend Part II - 2-3 April 2011

The British Mother's Day (locally called Mothering Sunday) seems to be organised for an excellent time of year: spring has just arrived, the blossoms and daffodils are out, and it really seems like a good time of year to have a celebration.

We turned Mother's Day into Mother's Weekend, and had a great weekend away, primarily enjoying daffodils in different locations.

Our destination for Saturday night was a country house hotel near Maidstone (which seemed appropriate as Christine's grandfather went from Maidstone to NZ). On the way here we took a pleasant diversion to pay Wisley Gardens our second visit, since joining the Royal Horticultural Society. There were a lot more daffodils and blossom trees out, compared with our first visit, two weeks ago. We thought the variety, quality and quantity of daffodils was the best we have ever seen. Their large orchard of fruit trees were just starting to come out in blossom.

From here we travelled to the National Trust property, Stoneacre, a wonderfully restored medieval house, just near our hotel in Larkfield.

Stoneacre was also surrounded by daffodils, all at their best. The house dates back to 1480, and is a stunning example of Tudor England, both inside and out. I was imagining how lovely it would be to be the tenant who currently lives there, until I was reminded of the outrageous cost of heating it in the winter.

Dinner at the hotel on Saturday night, was excellent, and we couldn't resist the full English breakfast Sunday morning, justifying it because our plan for the morning was an eight mile walk, starting from Cobham. Since visiting the Cobham Estate (now a school) in July last year, we planned to come back when it was opened in the daffodil season.
We had seen photos of the 'house' surrounded by daffodils, but these did not do justice to the spectacle of acres and acres of daffodils, all at their best, around Cobham. We had been impressed with the daffodils at Wisley, but the sheer abundance of daffodils here was just breath-taking. We had to once again treat ourselves to a great cream tea, scones fresh from the school kitchen. Even though we had been encouraged to pick some blooms to take with us, it still felt very wrong to do so even though our small bunch would not have diminished the millions upon millions of blooms on show.

The township of Cobham is not large, but it seems able to support three pubs. One of these, 'The Leather Bottle', is picturesque both inside and out, and has its own claim to a famous past. Charles Dickens came here when he lived nearby at Gads Hill, to regale the locals with readings from his bocks. He featured this pub in Pickwick Papers. It's well-worth dropping in for a meal or a drink, but on Mothering Sunday, it was probably just as well it was later in the afternoon, as I doubt if we would have found a spare table any earlier.

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