Garden Visiting with a Five Year Old…

As with Tudeley, most of my garden visits are taken either by myself or with other ‘adults’. Yesterday, however, I was lucky enough to get to walk round Knole Gardens (different from the park and only open on Tuesdays) with a five year old girl. She very kindly took the photographs for this post for me too….

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There are massive advantages to a smaller-sized garden companion, such as playing I Spy and spotting all those usual things to be found in a garden: T for Trees, G for Grass, S for Sky, O for Octopus…

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And then there’s the fashion side of it. Lovely as my normal garden peeps are, they don’t wear sparkly skirts and sandals with stars on. And nor do I. However, garden visiting, I’ve learnt, is more colourful with a little bit of glitter…

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Forget about walking slowly down paths. Skipping or running as fast as you can gives you a completely different view…

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… especially when you stop DEAD ON THE SPOT because you’ve seen something interesting…

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… and then of course there is the essential ice cream after. During which I learnt that my friend has recently got one of my favourite childhood books, The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. Her mum is going to read it at bedtime to her. Ah…. the joy of that book. I’m not sure whether it awakened most in me a love of gardens or a love of food – all those little iced biscuits and descriptions of meals inside.

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So here is a poem for you (and for my lovely friend yesterday) not about gardens this time, but about my food memories from the books I loved as a child…

Eating my way through the children’s classics

Maybe this is where it began? A wish
for iced biscuits to eat in bed, mysterious
Marmaduke Scarlet’s plumcake, parkin,
Devonshire splits, cream horns, gingerbread…

so Mum, sighing at my sighs, added lashings
of lemonade and boiled eggs to our picnics
(but where was the cold-tongue-cold-
ham-cold-beef-pickled-onions-salad

-french-bread-spotted-meat … enough, Ratty!)
A tea in front of a blazing fire instead
with little-friend-Susan, toasting muffins
on forks, eating bread and strawberry jam

as red as the ‘raspberry’ cordial that Dinah
drank with Anne Shirley as the gables
shook, overcome by ‘a tendency to laughter’
even more unholy than William’s liqrish water

until finally, not even Pippi throwing eggs
for pirate pancakes could compete with Jo,
wrapped in a blanket, crunching her way
through apples and the most delicious books.

Yes, that was the start. This quiet hunger
for words, as timeless as marmalade
sandwiches hidden in a small bear’s
suitcase and now always wanted on voyage.

Knole Park, Sevenoaks, Kent. Website here.
Garden visited: 20th August 2013

2 thoughts on “Garden Visiting with a Five Year Old…

  1. What a gorgeous poem, Sarah. And blog. Will be visiting often. Since moving to Melbourne I have become fascinated with Australian gardens. I love all the gums, all their twisted smooth speckled trunks reaching for the sky…. x

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