My column for the August issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News
Seeing the progress my husband has made in the garden during my week away in Scotland, I declare I don’t want to go away again this summer, but to stay put and enjoy our home turf.
I do however plan to heed the advice of creative thinking teacher Orna Ross* to go on a weekly “createdate” with self – a solo outing to a place that stimulates your imagination. The first of these is to Newark Park, a former Tudor hunting lodge now owned by the National Trust, set on the edge of the escarpment that tumbles down into Wotton-under-Edge.
*Orna Ross will be giving a talk about how to live a more creative life at the 2020 Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival.
Newark Park has been on my bucket list for decades. It has all you’d expect from a National Trust property – a fascinating historic house, rambling gardens to lose yourself in, and a teashop to restore your equilibrium. Added family appeal is provided by an exhibition celebrating Judith Kerr’s much-loved children’s story, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, complete with dressing-up clothes and giant toy tiger..
But the highlight for me is the breathtaking view across to the River Severn. An annotated map of the horizon identifies local landmarks, including Hawkesbury Upton’s Somerset Monument, from this vantage point just a tiny, exotic tower five miles away.
Returning home, on a bucket list roll, I set about creating a terrarium, a self-sustaining miniature bottle garden, watering itself from the condensation collecting on the interior of the glass. I follow instructions in a book I bought and first pored over when I was about 14, finally achieving another long-held ambition.
I start with a layer of crocks for drainage, add cactus compost mixed with gravel, then arrange a selection of tiny succulents. Standing back to admire the miniature view, I realise there’s something lacking. Then it dawns on me. I fetch the three-inch-high stone pagoda that my daughter gave me last Christmas: the perfect finishing touch for my new creation, Hawkesbury-in-Bottle.
My bucket runneth over.
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