Monday, 26 April 2010

Botanical Days

We've had a couple of days visiting botanical gardens. Yesterday was Wakehurst, today we went to Kew. I'm not an unfit person but there's a certain kind of walking that really takes its toll. It's the slow, shuffling and creeping that does it. Museums are bad enough, and half an hour is usually enough for the first signs of museum foot to show up. Gardens, though. Gardens are like museums with gradient. And two in two days – that is hard. Then throw-in a hike to the railway station at each end, and a stretch along Brighton prom in the middle, and you are heading full steam for the knackers yard.

So we did Wakehurst first, and it really is a terrific garden – lots to see, lots of hills to go up and down. It's also home to the Millenium Seed Bank and this turned out to be a place of wonder and story ideas, so I was more than happy.

Having driven to Wakehurst we thought we might as well go and see Brighton, since it is only down the road and neither of us had been there before. I wasn't expecting much, kind of Blackpool with a cockney accent. But Brighton was a pleasant surprise. It's not over the top and the Pavillion was worth a look, though it was evening when we got there and so the Pavillion was closed and, amazing though it is, we still don't really know what it's all about. And of course we had to try the pier. I'm a sucker for piers. Don't know why. Usually they're horrible tacky places that are a century past their best days, but you can often look past that and see them for what they were designed for. We've been chalking up a few piers lately, what with Santa Barbara and Santa Monica last year, and Brighton is supposed to be one of the best. The surprise is, it really is one of the best. It's cared for. There's pride in Brighton Pier and we were both quite taken with it.

Back to botanical gardens, though, and today we did Kew. I blame the lay lines. Kew is a nice garden, world-class nice, but it is a hard visit. Hard on the legs and hard on the feet. There no hills and it isn't that big, not really. But I always suffer at Kew. This time is no exception, especially after Wakehurst and four miles of Brighton prom yesterday. Tonight I'm suffering. Tonight I will sleep, at least up until that point where I'm torn, screaming from my bed with raging leg cramps.

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