Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
If Nathaniel Hawthorne is correct in his speculation then it is unlikely that happiness will be found in the RHS Wisley Glasshouse which has been turned into "a tranquil paradise where exotic butterflies take flight among tropical plants in the warmth".
The Sock had pictured a gentle wander around the Glasshouse watching the masses of butterflies flutter by, an occasional one alighting on a nearby leaf or flower or even on the Sock's hat providing perfect photo opportunities. The reality was just a little bit different. There were hordes of high-pitched children rampaging around trying to spot one of the dozen or so butterflies which weren't either already dead, or playing possum in order to avoid their monkey prodding fingers. Although it was bitterly cold outside, the Glasshouse was like an afternoon in Singapore, heavy with humidity.. and the Socks already heavy with winter jumpers.
There were some rather lovely specimens of these 'flying flowers' although the Sock noticed that most of the fabulously blue 'morpho' butterflies appeared to have bitten the dust. A small child whined to her father "Are those butterflies dead?" "No, Amber.. they are just having a rest". The Sock caught Amber's eye and mouthed. "They're dead! Gone! Snuffed it!" whilst miming a slashing motion across her neck. Amber looked slightly bewildered but the Sock had done her a favour. Parents shouldn't lie like that.
As a small child the Sock was walking on a Devon beach with family and friends when an oil slicked seagull was spotted. Fathers and brothers were sent to investigate whilst mothers quickly hustled the Sock and her friend Julie back to the car. Some short time later the "men" returned and assured us that the seagull had flown off happily. But Uncle Tony had a gun and we had heard a bang and anyway we weren't that stupid. The Sock and her friend sat in stoney silence, tears slipping down their faces for the entire journey home. It wasn't the death of the seagull that hurt - it was the pain of the first lie we had caught our parents out in.
Escaping the overly crowded and humid tropical section the Socks had a quick look at the succulents to get ideas for replacements for her winter dead echeverias and aeoniums. There was much to covet.
Amongst the other interesting exotics in the Glasshouse the Sock spotted this - can you guess what it is children?
No you can't. So the answer is here.
Don't be put off seeing the butterflies but avoid the crowds and kids by going during the week.
The Wisley Glasshouse is always worth a visit butterflies or not.