Glorious sunshine with a promise of rain later so we are up and at ’em early. We’ve been told by members visiting the Centenary Site that Exbury Gardens is stunningly beautiful at the moment. Somehow, I don’t know how, I’ve managed to talk him into going. It’s not a free day out and he winces as the credit card is pushed into the machine, PIN accepted and it greedily gobbles £20.90 out of his account. “£5 extra each for the small steam train?” The cashier asks. He looks at her as though she’s just sworn at him, I guess we aren’t going on the train.
Homemade butties weren’t on the menu today. Sounds like he’s treating me to lunch out. Exbury has a cafe and we choose to eat there. Slightly before lunchtime, to avoid the crowds, the only grub on offer is rather plain looking, pre packed sandwiches. Egg, cheese or tuna. All on white bread, I hate white bread. To compensate for very over priced boring butties we throw a couple of scones, the size of cobbles, onto our tray and add another £20 to our day’s bill… I must say the scones made up for the butties, the best we’ve had in ages. How do you take yours? The Cornish or the Devon way?
With over 20 miles of pathways I’m guessing we won’t see everything today. Comfy shoes are a must as it is lots of walking. With lots of benches dotted around to admire the views it needn’t be too strenuous of a day.
It’s the end of May and the Head Gardener’s notice board announces that Rhododendrons, Camelias and Azaleas are in bloom for our visit. The explosion of colour and scent is amazing. Around each corner, blooms in every colour of the rainbow set folk oohing and ahhing.
The Sundial Garden made my day. A huge Wisteria growing over a pergola created shade on a beautifully, sunny day. With the Wisteria dripping in flowers and the heady scent, we passed a lovely twenty minutes just drinking it in.
Whilst the car park seemed busy, we were surprised by how quiet the gardens were, birdsong being the only noise to break the silence. Expecting The Boss to announce he was bored witless at some point, I was surprised he actually seemed to enjoy the experience, he must be softening, although, he did have to lie down for an hour later when he recalled the days costs.
The gardens are completely dog friendly and they aim to make them as accessible as possible to everyone, hiring out wheelchairs on a first come first served basis and even offering regular buggy tours. With over 200 acres to explore, there is something for everyone, even a play area for the little people. Created by Lionel Rothschild in the early 1900s, it really is a gem of a day out, for all ages, on the banks of the River Beaulieu.