Sunday, 4 January 2009

Cold Comfort

Happy New Year Sockwatchers!

The Sock isn't at all happy and has the mother of all colds... it is already a 4 mansize tissue box job and now starting on the 5th. You will all have to wait for the Panto Part II because the Sock's eyes have puffed up so much it is difficult to see the screen to work on it.

In the meantime here are a few pictures of cheering colour from some lovely gardens the Socks visited in Oz.

Foxglove Spires is an Open Garden near the charmingly named Tilba Tilba on the New South Wales coast south of Sydney. The Socks hadn't really known what to expect from the scenery in this part of Australia and in fact parts of it were more like Devon which might explain the plethora of places offering Devonshire Cream Teas. (The Socks never sampled these but were assured that they did indeed consist of scones jam and cream but whether this was the proper clotted stuff or not who is to say? The Sock spent much of her holiday pondering the niggling question as to whether a) Devonshire actually existed - Surely it should be Devon? (Wikipedia has something to say on this for those of you who haven't already lost interest) and b) was the use of Devon/Devonshire Cream tea actually allowed when it wasn't manufactured in Devon?

But as usual the Sock has digressed, so back to Foxglove Spires. Against a backdrop of Tilba creek and mountains the gardens have been created over 20 years but look like they have been there for ever. Italaniate archways, mysterious winding wooded paths, a Beardshaw style ruined "garden folly" and more arbours than you could shake a stick at are all squeezed into a relatively small area, morphing into each other rather than being formal garden rooms. It is all exceedingly beautiful - nature has been given it's head to allow self-seeding and rambling with a certain 'unkemptness' that removes any hint of formal starchiness.

The Socks favourite part was the chaos of roses at the back of the gardens. The Sock isn't normally a great fan of roses , particularly not the formal 1930s style rose garden type but this was a joyous cacophony of colour more than enough to raise the spirits on what was a slightly rainy grey day. It is worth clicking on the pictures to enlarge for the full effect.

In the adjacent nursery and shop the Sock was amazed to find a whole section dedicated to twine!!!

They actually had the stuff that Sarah Raven sells and even allowing for postage from Australia it was still cheaper than hers! Knowing how interested you would be the Sock photographed some of the different twine dispensers although missed the best one which was twine on a 3ft stick! The Sock wishes she had bought some as she still hasn't got any garden twine but there was no room in the suitcase!

The Socks stayed at the charming Greengables B&B across the road from the gardens. There seems to be a lovely tradition in Oz where many of the B&Bs provide a hospitality bottle of 'port' for guests to have a quick snifter. After a lovely meal provided by the gracious hosts Phil and Stuart the Socks polished off the rest of the bottle with the help of a companionable young Aussie couple they were dining with . On visiting the excellent local vineyard Tilba Valley winery the next day the Socks learned that the host had already been in early that morning to restock it. Sorry about that Phil and Stuart - it was rather good although Australian ports seem to be more like moscatel than port in the Portuguese sense.


VP said...

Devonshire Teas always made me giggle when we were in Oz :)

Arabella Sock said...

I wonder if they do them all over Australia. They had them from the Blue Mountains down to the Great Ocean Road and up to the Adelaide Hills! Hmm.. I think I need to do a research trip covering the Great Barrier Reef area..

NewShoot said...

Sorry to hear about the cold - I find the lovely soft balsam tissues are the best, particularly for a cashmere nose.

The photos are fab - if I'd been asked to guess where the rose garden with the amazing red rambler was I would never have guessed Oz.

Arabella Sock said...

Thank you for the sympathy NewShoot - too late for the balsam tissues I think I am going to have to soak my nose in fabric conditioner.

The scenery changed very quickly along the coastal route we did although none of it was quite as I had imagined - more like a version of New England but wilder and with less trees obscuring the view!

Fat Rascal said...

Happy New Year, Sock, and all bloggers!

Your photos cheered me up no end, almost as much as a cream tea would have done!

I always though clotted cream was a Cornwallshire speciality.

If there were more French people down under there would be no confusion about AOCs and suchlike. You would have enjoyed a wine made in the fashion of port and a tea after the style of a SW English county. Would have still tasted good, though!

janerowena said...

I love those rose photos. My kind of garden.

You need a knitted nosewarmer, Arabella. Apparently people really did wear them years ago, but I'm not surprised that I can't find a photo!

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

A very Bliss and Sockful New Year!

They do the Devonshire Teas in Kiwiland too. ;-)

Garden pretty, very pretty!

BTW did the nose soak in fabric conditioner work? Get well soon!

Anonymous said...

Veering slightly off the topic of Devonshire teas, your wittering about moscatel flavoured port reminded me of a great favourite that Sainsbury's used to sell which was a moscatel sherry: totally delicious with a lump of ice. Sigh!

Excellent pictures btw.

Arabella Sock said...

How mean! The Sock doesn't witter, merely rambles on a bit. It's not the same thing at all!

Now I want some moscatel and I've given up booze until February..

themanicgardener said...

If you can write like that when you have the mother of all colds, you're a force to be contended with.

These comments provided my first encouter with the verb "to witter." Or is it "to wit"?

Arabella Sock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arabella Sock said...

Witter - I looked up a definition and it means continual and pointless chatter. It is nearly always women who are accused of wittering and is often a group activity.

I witter away to my cats frequently but they don't seem to mind.

Simon said...

Witter away ducky, loving the pictures. The Devonshire cream teas thing - weird eh. I never did get round to trying one.