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Thursday, 25 July 2013

Norfolk Tour -Day 4

Final day and it was me as the strong contender for the wet T-shirt competition after loading luggage in the rain! A quick shower and then on the road.

Our first visit today was a jungle in the city! I'm not sure the owner of it would appreciate the description but that was what it looked like to me! The owner of the garden was Will Giles who has written gardening books, newspaper articles and hosts garden themed cruises all over the world. He was waiting for us on the side of the road wearing a Hawaiian shirt and his garden was just what you would expect from someone with such dress sense!

From there we moved onto a nursery which was in the middle of nowhere for more plant buying.

There is no more space! No more shopping allowed! We had lunch booked at a pub a few miles away where the organisers were thanked and presented with a wad of cash and then I was thanked and presented with a wad of cash and asked to take them again next year to Devon.

After lunch we got some miles under our belts before our final stop at a private garden in Desborough, Northamptonshire. I've not gone into this garden, even though there is free tea and cake! So I'm just waiting for them to come back to drive the final stint home. Another successful tour very nearly complete. :-)

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Norfolk Tour - Day 3

It's been another hot day today at 29 degrees C and I am about to expire!

Our first visit today was to Corpustry Mill Garden which is owned and designed by Roger Last who produced/directed over 30 films on art, architecture and design for the BBC. The garden was split into 3 sections. The first, around the house, was very formal and landscaped. The second was informal and centred around a large pond with lots of subtly placed figurines. For instance, at the edge of the pond in the water, under a brick built arch, was the top half of a lady's head and two hands as if she was drowning! The third I didn't see, but it has been dubbed by the group as 'the garden with 2 penis's' because of 2, apparently grotesque, statues of naked men!

We moved on to Alby Crafts and Gardens for lunch. I pulled down the drive and it soon became apparent I would not turn around and would have to reverse back out onto the main road. So I was offloading my passengers thinking I would collar a couple of gardeners for traffic control when this woman came up to me and said, "hello, coaches usually park in the farmyard next door and it would be a lot less stressful for you if you did it now!" What she meant was. 'Move! You're in the way!' She followed it by, "would you like me to help? It would be a lot stressful for you if you did it now". She was one of those really irritating people who is far too happy and bounces about all over the place. My reply to her was, "yes thank you I need someone to stop the traffic on the main road and the only thing that would have made this less stressful would have been for someone to mention when we booked, not to come in the main gate!" So my pax were still getting off and she stood with me for about 30 seconds before she said, "sorry I have to go!" And she went! Stupid woman! So my group organisers were given a high vis vest each and sent to stop the traffic and we quite painlessly got the coach to where it should be! 

The shops here were rubbish, I found the garden boring and the tea room wouldn't give me a freebie! I've been spoilt with such nice places this week and this was dull. But it was essentially just a lunch stop.

From there we went to East Ruston Old Vicarage. I had been to this garden years ago on a day trip from the midlands but I didn't remember it until we got there. 

The car park was full and there were 2 other coaches and although this is a 32 acre garden, you just couldn't get away from the crowds and I don't like people! They gave me a freebie here tho! Peppermint tea and coffee and walnut cake. MmmMmmm!

On the way back to the hotel I drove them through Wroxham, which is where you hire the boats for the Broads, and we drove through the centre of Norwich to see both cathedrals. A lot of people on the coach originated in Norwich so they were pleased to see some of their old haunts and how things have changed. 

When we got back to the hotel, we were coming down the drive and a lady sarcastically said, "could you not get us closer to the door tonight please, there were complaints last night!" So I bumped up the curb and they stepped out onto the carpet! I'm surprised I didn't get a complaint from the hotel because no one could get out of the building unless they got on the coach and out the middle door!

I still haven't forgotten how they got me out of bed early on Tuesday morning so I have booked early porterage for them at 7.30 tomorrow morning for our return journey! Final dinner this evening and I really hope I'm not put with another chatterbox on my table tonight. I don't want a social dinner. Just eat and bed sounds good to me!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Norfolk Tour - Day 2

This mornings early start was delayed by Mike oversleeping and us being 20 mins late. How selfish! That's 20 mins extra I could have had in bed! 

Our first visit today was to a nursery who is a wholesaler to garden centres and event organisers. It was raining when we arrived and when the budding Charlie Dimmocks got off the coach, they were dangerously close to having a wet t-shirt contest for pensioners! Not a pretty sight! This was a boring visit for me and as soon as I'd had my cup of tea, I disappeared back to the coach.

Our next visit, I thought, was very good. It was another nursery but much smaller, which specialised in rare and exotic plants. There were also a variety of birds and animals.

Ben, who owns this nursery, works alongside conservation groups and houses some birds and animals before they are rereleased into the wild.

This owl seemed quite put out that so many people kept putting a camera in her face while she was trying to sleep and her offspring plumped his feathers and was growling, obviously not keen on the attention!

There was also a raven with quite a wicked look about him. While I was stood at the wire trying to take his photo, he flew at me, making me jump backwards and fall over a chicken! Good thing no one was about to see it, although I did do it quite gracefully!

We had lunch laid on for us after some time to buy plants. I think I will run out of locker space at this rate.

It's was interesting driving to and from this nursery, single track country lanes, overhanging trees, bends where I barely fit round, you know, usual stuff, then park in a field. Good thing it's been so dry lately.

Our final visit for the day was to Bressingham gardens and steam museum. We were there for 3hrs which gave me just enough time to use my free tickets on all 3 steam trains, a quick wiz round the garden and, not forgetting to fit in, a cup of tea and cake on my free lunch voucher!

This photo doesn't actually show off the best bits of this beautiful garden and I don't really know why I didn't take a better one but it will do for now! I ran out of time before going around the exhibition hall but still, I had a good afternoon acting the kid!

So it was back to the hotel and another rush to get ready for dinner. Another nice meal with good company. And the best news I had heard all day, I have an extra half an hour in bed in the morning! Oh yeah, and the country has a new baby Prince. Any bets on his name? Goodnight x


Monday, 22 July 2013

Norfolk Tour -Day 1

This morning I am heading off to Norfolk for 4 days with a gardening club who have requested me after taking them to Sussex last year. They all arrived at the yard and it was really nice to see so many familiar friendly faces, and they were all pleased to see me.

When I was loading the luggage, a lady came over to me, very excited, saying "she's gone into labour! We may be celebrating tonight. Isn't it wonderful!" So I'm stood there, nodding and smiling, thinking 'what Are you talking about!'

So we hit the road. The chat on the coach was all about 'she' has gone into labour. I was still oblivious to who they were talking about. I thought it couldn't be anyone who came with us last year because I very much doubt any of them are still young enough to be having babies! It took me an hour and a half to realise that they were talking about Kate Middleton and that the royal baby was on the way! Just shows how I live in my own little bubble!

So our first stop was at the Cambridge university botanic gardens. I dropped them off and went to park up. Got the deck chair out and enjoyed the sun. I picked them up after an early lunch and we headed for the next visit of the day, a private garden just outside of Dereham. The owner of the garden had given directions saying don't worry about the sign saying unsuitable for HGVs! Usually a good one to take notice of, even though I'm not HGV. She said I'd have to go that way because I probably wouldn't fit on the lane from the other direction but not to worry because she had a large turning circle at the front of her house where I could turn around. I hope she knows how long 13m is!

WRONG! No way was this coach getting through that little gate, turning around and getting out! Stupid woman! So I had to carry on down the lane where she thought I wouldn't fit to turn around and come back up. She was nearly right! I nearly didn't fit! But I'm sure there will be a lot more of that this week, trying to get to these places you shouldn't be taking a coach!

Anyway, the passengers didn't particularly like this garden because there was no where to sit in the shade but I thought it all looked very pretty and there was a nice cup of tea and cake! 

From there we had a short drive to our next private garden and back onto proper roads! The temperature this afternoon is 32 C and the air is very still. I am So uncomfortably hot! We are not on the coach for long enough for the air con to really kick in and that's how it will be for the remainder of the trip. We are just not going to be covering the mileage. I was looking forward to a swim when I got to the hotel but I don't think I'll have time before dinner so it will have to be a cold shower. I'm not liking having to wear collar and tie either. It's men's clothes. I shouldn't have to. Rant over!

We arrived at the De Vere Dunston Hall Hotel, a very impressive looking building, checked in in record time and went to our rooms to change for dinner. 

I have a very nice air conditioned room with ceiling fan! Ooooooh! It was so nice to get in from the heat. After a very quick cold shower and change we had dinner. I didn't have a starter so I had 2 desserts! Must resist tomorrow!

So now I'm off to bed feeling rather gluttonous and tired. We have another early start tomorrow, leave at 0830hrs. 0830! Do they not realise this is supposed to be a holiday! Goodnight x