I was lucky enough to be invited to the Chelsea Flower Show, so much to enjoy, so great to see people who are passionate about what they produce.
I take the opportunity whilst in London to book theatre tickets to see the truly wonderful production of The Audience.
So the Splendid Day Out began early but got off to an unsplendid start as my friend and her 5 year old daughter were accosted at the Main Gate and told that children under 5 were not allowed into the Showground. Friend, fully aware of the age of her child, is understandably most upset having checked the RHS website yesterday to make absolutely sure daughter would be able to gain entry. Forty five minutes later, having described the 5th birthday party in detail (dresses, theme, food) and having been interviewed by multi layers of officials, we are let in. So, if you plan to take your child with you to the Chelsea Flower Show, do take a birth certificate with you!
It’s so heartening to see so many peoples’ hard work, dedication and effort showcased in one week. It seems such an Herculean task to battle with the elements and produce such incredible, show stopping work. As everyone who gardens, indeed lives in England, knows it can’t be easy! We try to pack everything in, visiting the show gardens and the artisan gardens (a personal favourite) before visiting ‘The Tent’. Therein lies all the wonder of the English country garden. Fragrant roses, lilies, sweet peas, irises. Well I could go on obviously. But this is where true dedication and creation is showcased, new varieties revealed and to be marvelled at, decades of hardwork. Five year old friend is keen to see tulips, and indeed the tulips do not disappoint.
Lunchtime and the British reveal themselves, braving the rain and stoically eating their packed lunches with a smile. We brave the queues in the food court, and 30 minutes later we sit down to a sandwich. A charming ‘upsidedown’ garden outside the main food court holds much attraction. So clever, would be a lovely ceiling at a wedding reception, maybe an idea there for all wedding planners!
After visiting the trade stands, friend and daughter, who truly enjoyed her grown up gardening day out, go home. Remaining friend and I wander down the Kings Road and take tea at Peter Jones.
Having avoided most of the showers we head off to Zedel for our pre-theatre supper. It’s most interesting, casually grand, deco and in the style of ‘The Grand Budapest’, we enjoy a glass of champagne and salad Nicoise and some sole goujons with fries. It has a most elegant interior and friendly staff. Perfect for pre-theatre supper, but I would like to try it again. Maybe go to one of the jazz evenings in the small bar area.
This production of The Audience is not to be missed. Kristen Scott Thomas is truly magnificent. How the costume changes happen without our noticing is only one marvel. There is humour and tenderness, and revelations about our Monarch’s relationships with her Prime Ministers. Harold Wilson is human, funny and hugely appealing. And David Cameron, so recently welcomed back into Government, is very entertaining. I think you would enjoy this Mr Cameron, do go and see it. The Corgis on stage (sausages may have been harmed in the making of this production) are delightful. We leave feeling immensely fond of our Queen.
In the taxi home, exhausted, I am aware how many businesses benefit from shows such as Chelsea and the many theatres in London. People make a day of it, working around the ‘main event’ by dining out, shopping, seeing a tourist attraction, and I’m realising how important these events are to London. My taxi driver tells me of people he has driven who have come from Singapore, Japan, Switzerland and the United States just to see the Flower Show and stay on and enjoy Great Britain. I find that very heartening.
Note to the RHS – would it not be a good idea to have a time when children can enjoy the show? We want to encourage children to grow food and cook food, know where their food comes from. Just an idea.