Tuesday, 18 August 2020

The Distancing Diaries - Day 150 & 151



I had to double check the clock when I got up on Monday morning (day 150) as it was so dark but, yes, it really was 6.15am. Neither of the lads were keen on going out in the rain & the murk and who could blame them? We'd all been spoilt by last week's lovely weather. After my Wii Fit session I caught up with blogland and had just finished when Jon emerged and we had our fruit & yogurt breakfast. 

WEARING: Anokhi block printed midi dress (bought in Mumbai, Feb 2020)

Over the weekend Jon had noticed that the boiler was losing pressure so he called & booked an engineer's visit for later in the week and then went off to Tony's, who'd recently bought a new house sign and needed Jon's DIY skills to attach it to the outside wall. I sent him away with a couple of the masks I'd made yesterday (Tony works in retail & needs a ready supply). Meanwhile, I applied for the government's Self-Employed Income Support Grant and then had a bit of a scout around the house and listed a few unwanted things on eBay.


Jon returned just in time for lunch (noodles!) By now the rain had stopped so I did my deadheading, checked on the vegetable plot, gave everything a liquid seaweed feed and then adjourned to The Egg with my book. Jon spent the afternoon making a cupboard for the works van using bits and pieces from the woodpile.

We'd just harvested some lollo rosso, rocket, oriental salad leaves & a solitary radish to have with our tea, just before a violent rainstorm had us running for cover. Jon had a text from a vintage trader friend checking if we were in as he was stuck in traffic on his way from Manchester to London. It was lovely to have a catch-up, normally our paths cross at festivals and vintage fairs but obviously we'd not done any this year. Like us, lockdown had been a bit of an epiphany for both him & his partner, and five months of being at home, doing jobs on the house, pottering around the garden and spending time with their beloved dogs have led them to reassess their lives, a move abroad may even be imminent.

We waved him off just as the next rainstorm hit, this time accompanied by rumbling thunder. We ate the rest of the posh pizza we'd had for tea the other night along with salad. Later we started to watch an absolutely fascinating new series on BBC4, African Renaissance: When Art Meets Power

SOURCE

On Tuesday (day 151), after my Wii Fit session and our fruit & yogurt breakfast, Jon filled the flask & made sandwiches and we headed off to explore another garden.



This week we were exploring Hidcote Manor situated just outside Chipping Campden in the glorious Cotswolds, the best known and most influential Arts & Crafts garden in the UK and just over an hour's drive from home.


Americans, Lawrence Johnston and his mother, Mrs Gertrude Winthrop, moved to the UK in 1900.  Lawrence immediately became a British citizen and fought in the Boer War with the British army. In 1907 Gertrude purchased the Hidcote Manor Estate, situated in a part of Britain with strong connections to the Arts & Crafts movement. 









Lawrence, by now a Major, became interested in turning the fields around the 17th Century manor house into a garden. By 1910 he had begun to lay out the key features of the garden, and by the 1920s he had twelve full-time gardeners working for him.After World War II he spent most of his time at Jardin Serre de la Madone, his garden in the south of France and in 1947 he entrusted Hidcote to the National Trust.

Lawrence was influenced in creating his garden at Hidcote by the work of Alfred Parsons and Gertrude Jekyell, who were designing gardens of hardy plants contained within sequences of outdoor "rooms". Hidcote's outdoor rooms have various characters and themes, achieved by the use of box hedges, hornbeam, yew and stone walls. These rooms, such as the 'White Garden' and 'Fuchsia Garden' are linked, some by vistas, and furnished with topiaries. Some have ponds and fountains, and all are planted with flowers in bedding schemes.



I can honestly say Hidcote is the most beautiful National Trust garden we've visited and we were really lucky with the weather, managing to escape the violent rainstorms & thunder we've been plagued with since the weekend.





The car park was absolutely rammed but, due to the National Trust's rigid one way system, you'd never tell by these photos that we were sharing our visit with a hundred other people. 











After our sandwiches and tea we headed back to Walsall. Our gardening plans for the afternoon were scuppered by the on-off torrential rain showers so we had a lazy afternoon, me editing photos and Jon designing an irrigation system for my patio plants just in case we do manage to get away next month.



Tea will be butternut and sage ravioli in a homemade tomato sauce (the pasta is from Morrison's chilled cabinet!) Tonight we'll be watching Monty Don visiting the finest gardens in Northern Europe although I think he'd be hard pressed to find better then Hidcote Manor.

Stay safe and see you soon!

51 comments:

  1. Hi there Vix! I have loved all these virtual outings you have taken us on but this has got to be my favourite garden. Love the idea of "rooms" in a garden. I have meant to say before I love how you go off for the morning but still do chores in the afternoon, well if the rain would have let you. I have not listed anything since lockdown started! I am a bit turned off keep going down the post office. I had a friend up for coffee this morning more sitting in the garden! How's it looking for Greece? do you think. I still think you should be poster girl for the NT!! a photo of you in the doorway me thinks Shazxx

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    1. Hi Shaz! Don't worry, I deleted the other comment, nobody but us will ever know! I loved the "room" theme and how each area had a slightly different colour scheme. I really liked the beds bordered with privet, which I always associate with formal gardens, and filled with wildflowers.
      I hadn't sold anything on line for the same reason. It's been ages since I listed anything on ebay but one of the things I put on sold this morning and I was able to pay and print off the postage label on Paypal and pop it in the letter box, no scary visits to the Post Office (although ours is just a counter in the local Co-op so never a queue).
      Hope you had a lovely time with your friend.
      I don't suppose we'll know about Greece till the day before unless our government decide its a no go area in the next few weeks. I hope we can go but I'm not holding my breath! xxx

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  2. The days are definitely getting shorter. Where have Spring and Summer gone, I wonder. We've had a couple of heavy showers, but were spared the brunt of them, as there was some flooding in Antwerp on Sunday. Oh well, that's less watering to do, I suppose. Your garden's still looking very lush, though, and I love that photo of you wearing your Anokhi midi dress among all the greenery. I already saw on Facebook where you'd been to: Hidcote Manor is another one we've been too, must have been 2006 or 2007. How absolutely lovely to see it again. The planting really is sublime and I love a garden with rooms. Can't believe you weren't on your own, maybe they should keep that one-way system for good! I do despair about our week away. We don't want to burden our cat sitters with the garden as well, so I'll probably group all the pots in the shadiest spot and ask them to water them every two days unless there has been rain. I guess I'll have to accept there will be losses. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you do manage to get to Greece! xxx

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    1. I loathe shorter days, it's getting darker here at 8.15pm now. Boo!
      Hidcote is gorgeous, I didn't realise how close it is to home either, nearer than a lot of the ones in the West Midland section of the guidebook. It's a stunning garden, we loved it and the one way system is such an improvement, can you imagine how crazy it would be during the school holidays in normal times?
      I really do hope you get to go away, losing a few plants would be a worth it for a change of scenery, wouldn't it? This not knowing and being unable to make plans is really frustrating! xxx

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  3. I think this is the nicest place that you two have visited. It's on our list of places too. Can I ask what you eat with your noodles? I have a vision in my head of plain boiled noodles.. bleurgh!!!!!

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    1. It's stunning! They're hot and spicy noodles, pre flavoured. I didn't even know you could buy plain ones! x

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  4. Another beautiful and inspiring garden! I love looking at topiary. I have one small box hedge and just trimming that is enough for me! Weather here is decidedly chilly after non stop rain on Monday. I have my heating on this evening to take the chill off the house. Saw your hollyhock photo which reminded me that the three I have show no signs of flowering. Oh dear. As noted above, the nights are drawing in and the weather, presently, is autumnal. We may still get an Indian summer (fingers crossed!).

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    1. Hi Catmac, like you I find topiary fascinating. The gardener must get asked about how she does it a lot as there was a sign up explaining that a lot was done by hand and the rest she used "Little Wonder" electric shears (I looked them up, they're expensive!)
      I think we've got a taste of your weather today, it's chilly and starting to rain. Typical that our boiler had broken, I'd better dig a blanket out for later. I sincerely hope we get an Indian Summer, the last few Septembers have had better weather than the Augusts so I live in hope.
      I love hollyhocks, I've never had any success in this garden but I shall try again. xxx

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  5. Another beautiful garden. Stunning. Interesting. I had to chuckle that privet is used so nicely. It is an introduced tree here, and gives many people hayfever. Yours truly included. Wrecks my spring season every year. Similarly, gorse, again imported, is like a banned weed. Loves our soil, not at all liked. And yet, I've seen photos of beautiful gorse hedges and fields in the UK. Just as you showed a fern which some of us said was edible, but in your fair Isles is toxic. Nature has her ways.......

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    1. How interesting that privet and gorse were introduced to new Zealand. Privet can be evil, Jon gets affected by it as well, although I loved how Hidcote used it as a border for its wildflower beds, such an interesting contrast. xxx

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  6. What a fabulous garden, although that word doesn't even begin to cover what a massive estate that looks like! I love vicariously visiting all these places with you, Vix, thank you.

    Love your gorgeous dresses.

    It gets dark here now at 9pm instead of 10, sigh. We usually get summer weather well into September, but it just feels like the summer is slipping away so quickly.

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    1. Hidcote was spellbinding. I've realised that looking at beautiful gardens is just as interesting as vintage clothes shopping, I'm fascinated by the use of colour and contrasting textures and the way things are put together.
      I got chased by a couple of very posh ladies who wanted to tell me how much they loved my outfit, it made my day!
      It's dark here by 8.15pm now, it seems to have crept up on us so quickly, only a few weeks ago we were sitting outside at 10pm playing "the stick game" with the lads. xxx

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  7. That garden has. To be one of my favourite gardens so far. I love the topiary ! When I was younger there was a hedge near my mum and dads trimmed in the shape of a tree and then the new owners hacked it down and put and ugly fence up! It made me cry as t used to make me smile.
    I love the variety as well. The slugs ate our lettuce!! they are evil!!! No sooner than you put a plug out it’s gone! So I darent put any more out. I have even tried complemtary planting but nope doesn’t work.
    Love the dresses. I was looking at a wii the other day, but I know I wouldn’t see the light of day if I bought one ! I am still thinking about it. They command mega money as they are cared for like children over here. So I am thinking hard!! Keep safe love and huggs

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    1. Isn't it gorgeous? I can totally understand why Hidcote is one of the National Trust's most visited places, it must be hellishly busy during normal times, social distancing has it's advantages!
      Topiary is fab. There's a house round the corner from us who have their privet trimmed into their house number and the road name - beautiful & useful! I loathe how people destroy their gardens to make things simple, tarmacking over lawns, using astro turf and plastic plants.Surely it wouldn't cost much to have a gardener visit for a couple of hours a week rather than ruining the character of their homes?
      I've just been on snail patrol, not sure where all the slugs have gone but I'm not missing them one bit, slimy bastards.
      I love my Wii Fit. When the balance board packed up a few months ago I was able to get a replacement for £20 (including postage), they used to appear quite regularly at charity shops (in the olden days before corona) but it would cost your mum a fortune to post! Stay safe, Allie! xxx

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    2. We went to electric town, I cannot Spell it’s name £100!!!! Erm I will wait for the Xmas fairy I think. My twin has one she said I can have it, but god only knows when I will be home. Our slugs our The size of bloody African land snails. Milo is always bringing one in !

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    3. I've no idea how much Jon paid for mine all those years ago but before I had it I used to go swimming twice a week plus a yoga and pilates which inevitably led me to go for a drink with some of the other people I met up there and, of course, popping into the charity shops on the way back, it must have saved me thousands over the years!!
      African land snails! Milo is so bad! xxx

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  8. what an interesting place to visit, the gardens are designed like a military operation and so clever and detailed. The stone window got my attention as my grandparents house had windows like that (their house was very old) if only architects designed this kind of beauty in 2020. Your dresses are lovely as always. I suspect people take pictures of you when you aren't looking!

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    1. The use of colour, height and texture must have taken years to perfect. It makes me quite giddy thinking about it.
      I love old windows and doors. Your grandparents' house must have been incredible. I bet original windows are on the wishlist for your next house.
      The greeter at Hidcote yesterday went into raptures over my dress and a couple of very posh ladies told me that they'd run from their car to follow me into the loo to tell me how lovely I looked. It made my day! xxx

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  9. Your photos are simply stunning of the gardens at Hidcote . The garden rooms with their variety of planting , love the dahlias, and the structure of the topiary is wonderful. This is a garden on my to visit wish list so thank you for visiting , who knows when I will.
    You look as fabulous as ever in your maxi dress and pumpkin coloured hat, quite sure you were the best dressed visitor that day. Hope the rain eases and sunny warm days return. xx

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    1. Hidcote will definitely have to go on your list when you are able to travel again. The rooms are inspirational and the colour schemes. I'm determined to try growing dahlias. next year.
      A couple of women chased me to compliment my outfit, there's a normal in National Trust visitor dressing which involves stout walking shoes, Gor-tex and fleece, not surprisingly I don't conform to the norm! xxx

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  10. Gardening is impossible at the moment and the grass is getting out of hand and full of wild flowers - I refuse to call them weeds and actually quite like it!
    I'm not surprised you want to sort out irrigation for your patio plants, the area in front of your house is so beautiful it would be criminal to abandon it to fate!!
    I saw African Renaissance advertised, it looks well worth watching, I just need to work my way through all the other things first.
    Hidcote manor is such a beautiful garden ( going by your photos, I've never been), we have a Cotswolds visit planned so might try to visit it. The dress you wore for your trip is utterly gorgeous, it really is stunning. xxx

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    1. I managed to get as far as the compost heap this morning and then the rain started and has been relentless ever since. What a miserable day! I do agree though, long grass is quite attractive, even Gardener's World seem to advise it these days.
      The Cotswolds is utterly gorgeous, if I had the money I'd move there. xxx

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  11. woww, love your midi dress and how fabulous you look in your lush garden!, such a fantastic photo!.
    The series on African Reinassance look really appealing, it's at the top of my (long) list!. I'm watching A Greek Oddisey with Bettany Hughes and loving it!

    Lovely to have a look at another magnificent garden, love to see your photos of the colorful flowers, the hedges, the paths and trees, everything is glorious!.
    And you look so elegant in your afghan dress and fab hat!, totally in love with those sleeves and the beautiful colors!, love to see you posing in the garden, Gorgeous!


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    1. Thank you! That was on the self-timer as Jon was out at Tony's! I don't look quite as gormless as I usually do when I use that function.
      I'm glad you're enjoying Bettany Hughes, she's so knowledgeable and enthusiastic and it's refreshing to see a female presenter of our age.
      Hidcote was just stunning. I didn't know where to look, everything was so beautiful and cleverly put together. xxx

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  12. can a garden look better then hidcote manor? its fabulous - and very inspiring even for a small scale garden....
    love the red dress and elegant hat you´r wearing for the visit - it fits the arts&crafts vibe of the environment!
    the thunderstormes had reached us too - but not to hard thankfully - the garden looks fab & lush this morning.
    xxxx

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    1. Isn't it wonderful? So much inspiration. I loved the wildflower beds bordered with privet and how it wasn't overly manicured either.
      I felt I had to make a bit of an effort, The Cotswolds is where all the cool rock stars & actors move to, you never know who you might bump into....
      I'm glad your storms aren't as crazy as ours, we've got gale force winds forecast for the rest of the week, I'd better stake all my plants just in case! xxx

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  13. i really enhoy your weekly trips. I think once our daughter is back at school, I will e out and about more often,not sure where but there should be no limit to exploring. I hope you hav eluck withthe grant. In the US there was an extra unemploymnet amount, whihch savedmy son who is 100% freelance, but that has ended now, and he still can't get much work.

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    1. That sounds like a plan, Sam. I loved those pictures you shared of your neighbourhood recently, what seems to familiar to you is fascinating for those of us who live in another country, you'd be doing us a service by blogging about your adventures.
      I got instant confirmation that we were entitled to a second grant as soon as I submitted the application (based on our tax returns over the last three years), it's not amazing but every little helps. I hope your son finds a way to make ends meet, it really is a worry. xxx

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  14. You are an early riser! The Arts and Crafts Garden you visited is so unique, beautiful and full of life. Hidcote is an amazing garden. I would have never guess there were other visitors, it looks like you had the place to yourself in these images. I love your outfit, that maxi is wonderful.

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    1. I am! I feel like I've wasted the day if I'm up later than 6.30am (Jon thinks I'm mad!)
      Hidcote really is gorgeous. That dress doesn't get worn as much as it should at the moment! xxx

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  15. Hidcote looks beautiful, I'm adding it to my list of places to visit. My national trust card is underused this summer, we've only been to Carding Mill for a wild swim recently. I am enjoying reading about your days. Here it's all noisy and messy. Xx

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    1. It's absolutely stunning, one of my favourites. the planting was magical and totally inspiring. We drove past the sign for Carding Mill when we came back from Berrington Hall a fortnight ago, a gorgeous place! xxx

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  16. Topiary fascinates me, perhaps because here in the states even a well-manicured hedge is considered labor-intensive. One wonders if the plant material is chosen to suit an intended shape -- or if the figure is revealed from the plant as a sculpture from the rock? And are there famously old specimens still in care? More and more, I envy you and Jon your National Trust garden expeditions, especially since you dress to suit the occasions!

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    1. I love topiary, too. Most of the rooms had doorways sculpted from the privet & hornbeam hedges although my photos didn't do the hard work justice. Apparently Lawrence travelled as far as China & South Africa, collecting specimens and then offering seeds and plants for exchange. In normal times Hidcote has a huge shop selling plants raised in the gardens although it was on a much smaller scale on our visit, I was tempted but the area was very busy! xxx

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  17. Hidcote Manor does look beautiful and there are similarities I think to yours Vix-perhaps you could get a couple of sheep x

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    1. I wouldn't mind a couple of sheep, they'd help keep the lawn down! xxx

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  18. Gorgeous photos of Hidcote gardens, Vix, and that dress!!!!! It is utterly fabulous and I think my favourite of all the clothes I've seen you wear thus far! I bet you turned a few heads!

    I don't think I visited you last week - sorry about that! I seem to have been quite busy lately, although with what, I can't really say - usual stuff I suppose. We've visited family, and I've done quite a bit of cooking. Sorry not to see the Lads in this post - hope they are OK - our girls went to the vet the other day for their annual MOT and jabs and all is well.

    Have a great week!

    Shoshi x

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    1. Hello Shoshi! Lovely to hear from you, I['m afraid I've fallen behind and haven't commented on your lovely blog for a while although I've been swooning over your Romanian blouses, they're gorgeous!
      The lads have been for their annual boosters too, Stephen's on thyroid medication now but seems a lot better for it.
      I did get some lovely compliments about my outfit, I don't wear that Afghan dress nearly enough and I love it. xxx

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    2. Thanks for your visit, Vix, and no worries - I know how busy you are, with all that big garden to look after, and all your other activities! I am so glad you like my Romanian blouses - I've got another couple that I'll be modelling in the coming weeks, but this week's one is my favourite because I just love the embroidery on it. Your dress (yes, I should have guessed it was Afghan) made me break the Tenth Commandment ("Thou shalt not covet") lol lol!!! My Afghan dress that I bought years ago is still too small to get into, but if I can shift those final few pounds, it will be something nice to look forward to. I've got the one I made - I haven't modelled that one since I "met" you so I must remember to do it sometime.

      I loved hearing about the place in Romania - I read it out to my hubby who was very interested. Transylvania is fabulous - I went with him to Romania in 2003 and Maramures County was my favourite area. It's an amazing country. Sorry you didn't manage to retrieve the blouses, though!

      I'm glad the lads are OK, but sorry to hear that Stephen is now on medication for his thyroid. I am sure he will be feeling better for it. Our two are disgustingly healthy - they are only 3 years old, We had a lot of problems with our 2 old kitties - one was intolerant to things in regular cat food and had to be on a special diet, and the other one had epilepsy and was on medication for that and it took quite a while to get her stabilised. It was very distressing. They had to be fed separately which complicated life quite a bit! Like us, they tend to get their medical problems as they get older, don't they.

      If you do make your flatbreads/pancakes, let me know how you get on! I think you'd need to soak the split peas before blending them, though. With the red lentils, you don't need to. We are having more of the courgette ones tonight with our curried parsnip soup - they are made with flour. I'd better go and get started in the kitchen now!

      Shoshi xx

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  19. How nice you were able to get an unexpected visit from a fellow vintage trader. I'm sure that many self-employed people have been re-assessing their lives and how they earn their income during the lockdown.

    I can't believe you get up at 6:30 am every morning! I have been struggling to get up at 7:30 am so it's going to be a real shock to my system when I have to be back in the office.

    Hidcote definitely has one of the most beautiful gardens of all the NT places you have shown us. I really like the mix of topiary with the plants.

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    1. It was so good to catch up, our trader friends have been family for a long time, sharing stupid o'clock starts and keeping each other going when we have a slow day. A lot of us self-employed folk are used to living on very little money so the financial thing hasn't really been a problem but the dashing about constantly shopping, mending and washing and then the preparation for events filled most of our time, a lot of us feel like we've been sleepwalking through life for years and have finally awoken!
      Jon lives on a different time zone to me, I love my early starts and he likes his late nights.
      xxx

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  20. My sister visited Hidcote with Mum a few years ago and said how nice it is. I hadn’t realised it was so close to Walsall. You look like you’re doing a photo shoot in the gardens. Your outfit against the greenery is so vibrant.
    Philip only asked me yesterday if you’d got the self employed grant. Glad you’ve got that sorted.
    We watched the African Renaissance programme and last nights bbc4 ones on Japan. I’m sticking with the Harlots, the storylines are keeping me gripped.
    Sunshine in Whitworth this morning. Have a good day you two xxx

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    1. Hidcote is closer to us than Manchester (or Stockport!) but it feels a world away from Walsall. It really is gorgeous, you'll have to go when you are able to visit your sister, I know you'd love it. Jon hasn't stopped mentioning it.
      I'm amazed at how straightforward claiming that grant was the first time, it was even better this time, it even remembered the code.
      We watched Reported Missing, it made me a bit weepy! xxx

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  21. Really love the idea of setting up the gardens as rooms with bedding plants. Glad the rain stopped long enough for you to have a visit.

    We haven't had much rain lately, and with ragweed season in full swing it just makes the air dusty and allergic. Of course now everyone is coughing and sneezing sending terrified people scurrying as they yell through masks, "I have allergies"!

    I used to do a reverse of that ravioli making a sauce from butternut soup and pouring it over cheese ravioli. Some things are just so good together in any form.

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    1. Never has a cough been such a source of social embarrassment!
      I absolutely loved Hidcote, the planning that must have gone behind creating all those rooms is hard to get my head around.
      Liking the sound of your ravioli. I don' have pasta very often but love it when I do. xxx

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  22. Hidcote looks glorious - it must take a lot of work to keep everything looking so beautiful.

    Fingers crossed you'll be able to get away next month. We've abandoned any plans to go abroad this year.

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    1. It's absolutely gorgeous, we still keep talking about it now. I can't imagine how much work it must take but I can understand why it's one of the National Trust's most popular gardens.
      If we hadn't booked our flight back in February we wouldn't have entertained the idea of going away, I still won't believe it's happening until we're on that plane! xxx

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  23. That's such a beautiful garden and no I wouldn't have guessed how busy it was. The National Trust have done a fantastic job of opening up their properties safely.
    I hope you get your boiler sorted. X

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    1. Hidcote is one of the all-time top NT gardens, i think. We loved it! xxx

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Lots of love, Vix