Somehow, the fun has gone out of Friday nights where even the sight of the Lord of Cord's bad trousers are failing to ignite a creative spark in the Sock's consciousness. "Bring back Toby Buckland and the bad banter" I hear you cry... but just as we were enjoying Toby and his creative cucumbering he vanished from our screens denying us the pleasure of his trowel tossing talents.
So where is he now? The Sock sent out her investigative team over the Easter weekend to get the lowdown on Toby's new plant centre at Powderham Castle near Exeter. Toby's real dream was not to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in the fickle world of TV but to run a nursery. It would be difficult to find a more lovely setting for this enterprise than Powderham Castle and its environs. Toby set up a nursery in the walled garden here with online sales in 2011. More recently he has opened a Plant Centre on the Powderham Estate housed between the buildings of the Country Store and restaurant. We didn't visit the castle itself this time and I was unclear as to whether you could visit the walled nursery.
The Socks parked at the Store and wandered down through the fields to have a picnic lunch whilst bird-watching on the River Exe. There is a lovely round walk we did years ago from Powderham, following around the Castle deer park and then along the banks of the River Exe to Exminster stopping for a well earned beer at the Turf Inn where the Exeter Canal meets the river. Today our walk is shorter but we see an osprey in the distance from his look-out on a dead oak tree, shelducks and oystercatchers patrolling the muddy shoreline and more sadly a seagull covered in oil that we can't rescue and which will surely die as it can no longer fly. I think of the seagull I threatened with a nasty end that morning on discovering it had dumped all over my car, splattered like a tin of white paint with lumps in it - but I wouldn't have wished this bird's death on anything.
The view is glorious and even the trains tracking the coastline and speeding past within feet of us provide an interest.
I was pleased (though unsurprised) to note that unlike my local garden centre which now appears to be entirely free of peat free products, Toby has some interesting and unusual peat free products for sale -
this one made me laugh!
It was also good to note that many of the plants are grown on site at the Powderham Castle nursery.
The only criticism I could make of the set-up is that in the interestingly tiled women's toilets they have those stupid and annoying bogroll dispensers that when you pull the paper down tears off just one piece and then the tissue roll end disappears up inside the dispenser. I just hate it when that happens! After some time struggling with my hand up the dispenser to try and pull the tissue end back down - the whole casing fell off the wall! I jammed it back on as best as possible but it wasn't looking good. Sorry about that!
Whatever disappointment Toby might have suffered from the passing of the poison chalice of Gardener's World back to His Organic Jerkin must have been swept away by achieving his nursery dream in this idyllic setting.