hestercombe house

Writing – weed it out!

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I love getting out in the garden, even in the rain. I am quite proficient at weeding – I have to be, given how many manage to squat in the flower beds each week and the size of the garden here.

I derive great satisfaction from ‘howking’ (a good old Geordie word – perhaps I should do a post on those sometime) them out. Clumps of bittercress, chickweed and dandelions either go to the hens or are used in a salad – I was always taught to ‘waste not, want not’. I reluctantly admit defeat when the arthritis in the hands screams at me or when there’s a Sid Vicious weed resisting even the spade.

But the additional joy of weeding is that it’s a monotonous task which doesn’t really require any brain power, so my mind is free to wander anywhere it wants, and I can let my imagination run riot in respect of my writing. A bit like sleep I suppose, in that I have the opportunity away from the keyboard to process my existing thoughts and create new concepts. Of course we all know that we should take frequent breaks away from the screen for health reasons – sitting too long in one position, repetitive strain a possibility from typing, too long staring at the screen, so gardening fits the bill perfectly and there is a tangible end result.

Talking of gardening, Monty Don’s ‘Paradise Gardens’ last week visited the exotic lands of India, Persia, and here in Somerset – in fact, just a couple of miles up the road from me: Hestercombe. I frequently take the dog there as the cafe is dog-friendly and the landscape is truly glorious in any weather, and the grandchildren love the place – especially the witches’ house. Why not check out my Telegraph article on Hestercombe, published last year?

Hestercombe Gardens, Somerset

Irate call from daughter:

‘What have you been telling the boys about witches? They can’t sleep!’

Full marks to husband for his story-telling, and full marks to gardens which include a witch’s house, temple, lake, watermill, art gallery, bat observatory, children’s trails, stately home, and deliver an adventure whatever your age, whatever the season.

Hosting regular activities, commerciality never subsumes the heart of Hestercombe: the gardens themselves. Miles of woodland paths melting into snowdrops or rhododendrons, borders oozing colour and texture fused with the comforting familiarity of Lutyens’ formality. A bracing hike or a soothing stroll – it’s there for you.

Take your dog – not just in the woodlands – he’s welcome in the café. Glorious gardens with something for everyone, and having outgrown the nightmares, still top of the list for the grandchildren.

The place is so magical that the only thing missing is the witch. Or is it…?

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