Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Rainy days aren't just for staying in

Admittedly, I'm the first to dismiss most outdoor activity at the first hint of rain. It's not so bad if you're fully geared up in wellingtons and waterproof jackets, but overall, when it's cold and raining, I like to snuggle up on the sofa with a big cup of tea and several biscuits. I do not make a habit of rushing out to the nearest Royal Garden to wander about looking at plants I can't name (and, if I'm honest, have absolutely no intention of learning). 

I have, however, been missing out. Yesterday, we ventured to Kew Gardens and despite my initial misgivings, it was an absolutely fantastic day out. The changing of the seasons create stunning scenery and the weather probably kept all but the keenest, and the school parties that were clearly already committed  away so we were free to roam almost in isolation. 

I was amazed at the history of the Gardens - it's actually very interesting - and the grounds are absolutely immaculate, which always appeals to my OCD. Not a piece of litter in sight - very pleasing. 

Without doubt, the highlight of the day was the Kew Explorer tour - it's a 40 tour of the Garden on a 'land-train', with commentary to explain everything to you as you go around. Our guide was brilliant - exactly the right mix of informative, friendly and humourous - to be honest, he was better that most of the tat that passes for entertainment on television. I didn't catch his name, but he opened the tour by telling us he used to be a fighter pilot for the RAF. I'd highly recommend searching him out if you have the time. 

The only downside was that a couple of the attractions are now closed - an obvious thing to do out of season, but they might want to consider a reduced, off-peak rate in these down times. Also, the prices for food are quite steep, so if you're planning on staying for lunch, be prepared for the cost. However, I can highly recommend the tomato and basil soup - it was delicious (and I didn't expect that).

Parking was super easy - again, I guess because it's out of season. Be warned the road you turn down to reach the car park looks like a tiny lane - stick with it and you'll get there in the end. 

The ultimate test as to whether it was a good thing to do is if I plan to return again before spring. The answer? Absolutely. And if it's not too far from you, I'd recommend you do the same. 

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