After a week staying with my uncle Keith in Kent, Gill and I moved to stay with my godmother Sue (Gill’s best friend through school) and her husband Chris in Hinchley Wood. Keith drove us part of the way and we met Sue and Chris at a pub for lunch, then transferred to their car for the rest of the journey (with a walk in the woodlands on the way home). Hinchley Wood is a village of about 5,000 people in Surrey to the south west of London. Although it is within the Greater London area, it still has a village feel and is surrounded by green belt areas. It is near the railway line so many people commute to London daily – both Sue and Chris worked in London before they retired.
I always love staying with Sue and Chris as they are kindred spirits in so many ways. They have a beautiful house and garden that is a delight to stay in and is an inspiration for me for my home. The lounge, dining room and kitchen are positioned at the rear of the house, getting lots of sunshine and with large windows looking out onto the garden. There is a little conservatory/sun-room off the lounge that they eat all their meals in when it is warm enough.
I am extremely envious of their large flat garden that gets sun all day long and is perfect for growing all their different fruits and vegetables: there are raspberry beds at the back of the garden, a huge heavily laden apple tree, an enormous fig tree that looks like it is about to take over the house, masses of vegetable beds, and even a greenhouse full of tomatoes. We are there in autumn so harvest is in full swing. I am also extremely envious of their utility area just off the kitchen with lots of space for keeping fruit and vegetables over the winter – the apples are being stacked into trays when we get there.
Sue loves to cook and entertain, and I remember over the years being treated to all sorts of unusual delicacies from the garden such as witloof; and tasting home-made preserves and fruit pies for dessert. I often think of her when I am harvesting and preserving my backyard bounty – and I’ve managed to extract many recipes from her as well. Whilst we are staying, old friends of theirs and Gill’s come for a wonderful dinner and lots of reminiscing and stories I hadn’t heard before.
The garden backs onto a school sports field and there is a path leading up into fields and woods in the hills behind. It is wonderful to go out walking and so quickly to be out of the village. Although there aren’t many flowers out this time, I am reminded of another time when I came to stay in springtime and we were out walking in the woods: Sue exclaimed ‘aren’t the bluebells magnificent’; I somewhat confused said ‘what bluebells?’ and then discovered that my sunglasses had a yellow/bronze tint to them that perfectly blended with the blue to make me think that I was just looking at green all around me. I have never bought bronze tinted glasses since because I certainly never want to miss a beautiful display of nature again.
Visit to England September 2016:
South East England
Knole House & Knole Park
Penshurst Place & Gardens
City of Canterbury & Canterbury Cathedral
Hinchley Wood, Surrey
Hampton Court Palace
London to Greenwich Village
London Walking Tour