The Church in the Farmyard
You know how we love Wisley Gardens. Like the other week, when we just came to the gardens for an al fresco Al-Anon meeting. Read a book. Americano. With milk and shortbread. And, last week, a flower show as well! Luvverly.
The sun beamed down for a lovely day and off we went. Cruising. Classic FM. Until just short of the A3 there was a traffic jam. The Gardens are about a mile down the A3. No problem – take the country route through Pyrford. Narrow country lanes. The River Wey and, close by, the Wey Navigation and the very narrow crossing at Pyrford Lock. More and more cars until we reached Wisley Church and gave up.
Wisley is a tiny village of just over 100 inhabitants. A beautiful, exquisite little church A graveyard, with a large Copper Beech providing shade. This seemed a far more sensible choice than less than a mile away thousands of motorists descending on a special event at a garden that is already busy at this time of year.
We realise that Al-Anon is not for everyone and the operative word is Anonymous.
But many people get great comfort from meeting people who understand and care. So we Zoomed in from under the Copper Beech tree.
The topic was Step 9 and here is a reading to give you an idea.
Quite simple, isn’t it? Much of Al-Anon is common sense that can apply to anything in life. The ‘gift of desperation’ provides an opportunity for anyone to join if their lives are affected by the drinking of others. Ultimately, you can fall back on the saying ‘Take what you like the leave the rest’”. We have no expectation, but just offer a window of opportunity for people who need help and friendship.
The hours slipped by. Last entry to the gardens was 16:30. Should we chance it? No! Sitting there in the shade on a church bench now, we really couldn’t be bothered. A queue of traffic was still crawling passed the village down the narrow country lane. After four hours, we were still effectively trapped. Could do with some grub, but still had plenty of drink.
The church stood there impassively all this time. Despite the crowds less than a mile away, we didn’t see another living soul. Even the cars were out of earshot as they crept along the lane. We didn’t blame the motorists, having been one ourselves.
Sweltering or air conditioned, a flower show on a beautiful September day where so many have missed such things for nearly 18 months must have seemed so attractive. In reality, many must have spent the day in traffic jams and not got in at all. Later, on the travel news, the warning went out that the A3 was experiencing very heavy traffic due to the flower show that was to continue all week. The English weather would come to the rescue when the heatwave ended and rain was forecast.
As it turned out, the change in the weather (and whatever else reduced enthusiasm) the flower show was a much better prospect on Thursday. Our resident genealogist, Elizabeth, and husband ‘Brooklands Tim’ also love Wisley Gardens. They didn’t even have to queue on Thursday.
So here we were on Tuesday. The traffic had thinned a little by 17:30, but let’s just stay here.
Maybe our higher power intended this. Let’s just go in the church and show you some pictures of a little ecclesiastical gem.
The Church in the Farmyard
Crept by all day. As you can see, it is a narrow country lane. Totally unsuitable for so many cars. In normal times, the majority of visitors to the gardens go straight back to the A3 leading to the M25. That Tuesday, access to the A3 was blocked by the sheer volume of flower show traffic. We suspect that Sat Navs had encouraged non locals to try this escape route. Not realising what a lovely, but totally inappropriate, route it is. Particularly the lock crossing itself, with large metal posts bearing the scars of years of scrapes with cars.
The Royal Horticultural Society
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, Wisley’s population reached about 180 and included four ‘chief landowners’. Including GF Wilson, whose land was to make Wisley the household name it is today. After his death, the land was bought by Sir Thomas Hanbury, who gave it to the Royal Horticultural Society. They moved here from Chiswick in 1903 and it is now one of Britain’s, maybe the world’s, most famous gardens.
The Flower Show
Bobby never gives up. So, we went back to Wisley Church a couple of days later for him to take a couple of extra photos. Being greedy, and lacking common sense, he decided we would go to the show after all. Already tired from two hours gym, he had noticed that large numbers of cars were leaving the area.
The overflow car parks had overflowed into fields, where tractor pulling shuttle trailers had brought even more punters in. Heading back towards those car parks were legions of plastic collapsible boxes stuffed with plants and paraphernalia. To him, it was a scene from hell. But, of course he is a member. The flower show is free, isn’t it mate?
But, just because things are free it doesn’t mean you have to join in. Unless you are him. For him, the operative word is ‘Show’. The annual village show, with a big marquee full of entries from local people. Best Sweet Peas; longest Runner Bean; biggest Marrow; children’s miniature gardens; best cake. The only things on sale are tea and cakes and the beer tent. All the while, a silver brass band playing.
RHS Chelsea is the best Flower Show in the world we are told, and is still largely a show. RHS Hampton Court Flower show is an enormous market. We went there once. Lasted an hour, and got a boat on the river to Richmond. RHS Wisley is the lower end of the spectrum. An unashamedly large market, with very little ‘Show’.
There is nothing wrong with that, and horticultural snobs like Bobby shouldn’t go and get grumpy. But we did. Lasted fifteen minutes before heading into the glorious gardens where, it seemed, few of the punters had ventured. Here’s just one or two pictures from the show and the gardens.
Bertie: “Bobby, can I have a Hobbit?”
Bertie: “Why not? Wayne, the YMCA Zoom Gym trainer reckons we live in a Hobbit house.”
Bobby: “That’s just because we are big,and Laurel Cottage looks small on Zoom. And he likes taking the Mick. Good bloke, Wayne from the Emerald Isle.”
Bertie: “So, can’t I have one?”
Bobby: “Which one?”
Bertie: “This one.”
Bobby: “No. Check the price!”
Bertie: “Stone the crows and strike a light. I thought I was dear at 200 quid!”
To Elizabeth who got some looney emails from her favourite (and only) uncle. And to you, dear reader, if you like flower shows like Wisley. It’s his problem!
Lighting a Candle for Diddley
Hymn 503. A quiet place.
– – – – – – – –