Monday, 22 September 2008

How long is a piece of twine?

The Socks decided to make the most of the autumn sun yesterday and took a trip out to Sarah Raven's NGS Open Day stopping via The Griffin at Fletching for lunch.

The Griffin is our favourite 'lunching' pub combining unfailingly good food and ambience but still retaining the feeling of an inn. In the winter you can sit and frazzle by the log fire in the front bar but for summer weekends a large and very good barbeque is set up in the back garden where you can eat whilst drinking in the lovely views over to the Sussex Downs.

After lunch, top-down on the Sock's VW Beetle (for probably only the second time this year!) we pootled round the Sussex lanes until we found Sarah's place at Perch Hill. Entrance is through the 'cutting garden' which was full of magnificent dahlias and zinnias. Earlier in the week the Sock had asked Fat Rascal if she could identify a flower photo. It turned out to be a zinnia and we agreed we had thought it an 'old fashioned flower you don't hear much about these days' until google images had produced pictures of some rather attractive specimens. The Sock felt much the same about Sarah's collection, some fabulous blowsy blooms, some attractively architecturally sculptured, mostly not things the Sock would like in her own garden but occasionally a very chic specimen that would brighten her border.

The garden 'rooms' led on to an excellent vegetable garden. Lovely rustic obelisks, rows of splendid lettuces, the Socks were feeling more than a little envious so were quite pleased to see that even Sarah Raven's tomatoes hadn't avoided the blight!

But now for the bit you have all been waiting for! The Shopping! Sarah Raven is famed for her somewhat 'overpriced' goodies in her catalogue so it was with more than a little curiousity that the Sock headed for the shop. In fact there was little to buy (sadly no boots at all!) although this didn't stop the Bedsock buying Sarah Raven's 'Garden Cookery' book for £25 to add to his never ending collection.

However look at this... more twine than you can shake a stick at!!

The Sock needs some garden twine after being told off for taking the Bedsock's cooking string out into the garden and leaving it there. This twine came in a convenient and attractive tin with a little hole in the top to pull it through and was only...... £7.50..... Hmmm... perhaps the Sock didn't need it that much and there was not even a cutting edge for the twine as it came out of the tin which would have been handy. Perhaps the Sock should just have the twine refill at ...£3.75..... perhaps not.* The Sock denied herself the twine on the basis she has a nice tin at home she can drill a hole in... but of course she never will.

The Sock had been hoping to give some more entertaining criticism of the gardens but in the event they were quite charming with everything to like. A confusingly crammed, jungly, exotic planting outside the Oast House was quite exuberant.

The gardens seemed much like Sarah Raven's GW persona - slightly eccentric, quirky and far from immaculate but this gave it the feel of a well-used, well-loved 'real' garden and not just a show piece. The Sock's favourite planting was the New Perennial Garden outside the cottage. It was labelled as a scheme for "lots of soft textures and movement in this very enclosed space" and this is certainly how it felt.

On the drive home the Socks gritted their teeth against the cool of the late afternoon and kept the hood down - it will almost certainly be their last chance this year!

* Later investigation on the net found the same twine tins for under £6.00.

It was also with a wry smile that the Sock noted on Sarah Raven's garden website that 'volunteers' are always welcome to come and work in the garden! Can they not afford to pay people?


Fat Rascal said...

I really like it -as you say it is the sort of garden you would imagine SR to have!

Zinnias are on my seedlist for next year.

Did you put the red twine back on the black twine shelf? That type of product brings out my inner "Dragon". I just imagine someone taking the proposal to the bank and convincing an investor that there is a gap in the market for very expensive lilac twine!

Arabella Sock said...

OHMIGOD Fat Rascal how did you know? I deliberately moved the tinned twine because it was all just too horribly tidy.

Despite knowing it was a total waste of money I really had to fight with myself not to buy one! It just seemed so desirable even a lady who saw me viewing them said "I just couldn't resist the twine".

I am just getting too good at controlling the impulse buys.

Pork Chop said...

I nearly always buy a big ball of green twine from the garden shows when I go, usually costing £1 - a wee bit cheaper than the SR version.

Sounds like a good day out though.

Obelixx said...

Now that you have saved £7.50 by not buying twine at SR's you can buy something useful instead - a classy dahlia, a scarf for when the top is down on the VW, a new heuchera.... All sorts.

Arabella Sock said...

You are so right Obelixx - it is not just that £7.50 but also the £75.00 I saved last week on the Sarah Raven boots. So that is £83.50 I could spend on a nice new silk scarf as my neck is going a bit 'Deirdre Barlow'.

There is a Designer Craft fair coming up soon in London I must book my ticket.

If I don't buy some other things I don't need I may have enough saved for some new earrings too!

What a good idea. I am well cheered.

Arabella Sock said...

Tee hee! Maths isn't my strong point.
Still all the more money to spend.

Crusty Bedsocks said...

I don't think its a viable method if you use Pork Chop's spent £1 in your system!

I must confess that I have bought a twine tin though - from John Lewis not Ms Raven!

JamesA-S said...

All this designer twine is all very well but was it tarred? The best twine smells of tar. Leave a ball in a car overnight and the whole thing smells wonderful (that is assuming that your car - unlike the Sockmobiler - has roof to retain the scent). If you want a twine tin alternative try an Illy coffee tin: easy to drill a hole in the lid and big enough to spot if you leave it somewhere silly.

JamesA-S said...

What, pray, is the name of the first dahlia in your post? Somebody asked me the other day and I was forced to splutter and bluster.

HappyMouffetard said...

Lovely dahlias. I like to request a Sarah Raven catalogue every time one comes out. Not because I would buy anything from it (although I do drool over the gorgeous flowers and over-priced gubbins), but purely because it costs her something to send it out to me. Am I bad?

Do you have a flower in your Beetle, Arabella?

Fat Rascal said...

The dahlia is Jescot Julie.

I was going to leave it there and claim the credit for superior plant knowledge but I'm too honest!

A beeb message boarder also went to the open day and had labelled his photo of the same dahlia.

Arabella Sock said...

Well done on the dahlia front Fat Rascal. I wasn't organised enough to get the names.

I picked up one of her catalogues whilst I was there but you are right Happy Mouffetard I will always get her to post me one in future. Ha ha!

I have a wooden red tulip in my Beetle - the Bedsock got it in Amsterdam where he works occasionally. I think it looks smart and I'm always curious to see what flowers other Beetle owners have.

I noticed that the young god Chris Beardshaw is doing a days course at Perch Hill in October. I am of a mind to join it and ask him lots of questions about pruning hebes!

Juliet said...

This one has a cutter too

However, I'm sure I've seen a similar one in local GCs for about £2.50.

VP said...

How about twine in a (clean) baked bean can?

To you £1.50 guv

Crusty Bedsocks said...

I don't know if mine is tarred but it does stink a bit! :D

Arabella Sock said...

In my search for the new 'must have' tarred twine I came across tin o twine for a mere £5.50!!! Better than that it's pink!!!! But WOE! WOE! and THRICE WOE! there is something narsty lurking on the page
bottom left!

clic for twine

VP said...

Aaaaargh! Head for the hills!

I can tar dye my baked bean can version for you - £2.00 to you guv

jane said...

Happymouffetard you are an evil genius. I'm off to cost Sarah Raven some money and tell my friends too (that's another one then)