Day 28

Lift Chi Up. Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. I had decided that, for once, I would get organised and get to the show for opening time. Unfortunately South Western Trains had other ideas and, when I got to Waterloo, I was told that all trains to Hampton Court had been cancelled and I would have to go to Surbiton and use the replacement bus service. There was a train leaving for Surbiton immediately, and I was urged to get it as all the others were showing long delays. So I jumped on the train without getting a coffee – a decision I was to heartily regret when I was then stuck at Surbiton (where there was no replacement bus service!) for a long coffee-less hour until a train to Hampton Court finally showed up, from, you guessed it, Waterloo. In the end, the trip which should have taken an hour and 12 minutes took nearly two and a half hours. Hey ho – best laid plans and all that. Anyway the show was great and I was very pleased with my decision to check the five-day weather forecast and book for the coolest day of the week. It is just so much more pleasant when it isn’t baking hot – particularly in the big marquees. I didn’t buy much – deterred by the memory of my first ever Hampton Court back in 1992, when we had ballet tickets for the evening of the show and I showed up at the National Theatre five minutes before the performance and had to persuade the cloakroom to let me check two rose bushes and a bonsai tree! I did buy a couple of hard-to-find alpines for the raised bed and some creeping thyme to plant in the cracks between the paving stones. New Zealanders will be shocked to hear that 8 inch lengths of punga trunk, WITHOUT roots or fronds, were selling for £25 each! I got lots of ideas though – including some roses I will have to find a space for come November, some beautiful clematis, and some bits and pieces to note for when we get to planting up the bed along the edge of the patio at the back of the house.

After the show, I met Nick for dinner at The Laughing Gravy and had a very yummy “scotch egg” (except with the sausage part replaced by prawn and crab), then venison Wellington. No room, or time, for dessert (even though they looked amazing) as we had to get to the Young Vic for 1930 to see The Valley of Astonishment, parts of which were brilliant, though overall, neither of us were convinced we had fully understood it. Of course in my case that is not necessarily the fault of the play – I have a bad habit of falling asleep in theatres and might have missed a crucial five minutes of the action!

When we got home, Katie was still awake and rushed downstairs to inform me that Sherlock had done “the very naughtiest thing”. It turns out she had just got an ice lolly out of the freezer and he snatched it out of her hand and ran off down the back garden with it. She enlisted Dash to help her corner Sherlock and they both chased him around the backyard for some time but Sherlock didn’t allow himself to be cornered until, in Katie’s words: “he had eaten the ice cream and was licking the last few drops off the wrapper”! That dog’s not stupid.

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