Did you guess who Friday's visitor to PPP-HQ was?
Here are some more clues . . .
The Very Important Garden Blogger is passionate about vegetables
'Does not do flowers' (you must know by now!)
And has a naughty sense of humour . . . Oooooo Matron!
Yes, it was indeed Matron of Down on the Allotment who arrived on my doorstep not long after breakfast on Friday morning. After a cuppa and a chat (about veg seeds) Matron joined me to tidy up the hen house and collect the eggs; then we had a tour of my plot – I'll let Matron tell you more about that.
We then jumped in to the 'tardis' and took a scenic route through 'hare country' to Saffron Walden and Audley End House. Matron wanted to see the walled vegetable garden, a showcase for Garden Organic's Heritage vegetables and fruit. The greenhouses are under wraps for repair and there were few vegetables to be seen, but with no leaves to cover the branches the expertly trained and pruned fruit trees and brushes were works of horticultural art.
After a quick look in the stables, we were in need of a warming lunch – we headed straight for the Housekeeper's Room for big bowls of broccoli and stilton soup.
We were lucky that our visit coincided with a re-enactment day in the Service Wing.
Later in the afternoon we drove to Cambridge; it was fun being a "tourist in my own town" as I waited on Garret Hostel Lane Bridge for Matron to take the iconic tourist shots of the river and bridges and punts.
Along The Backs another iconic Cambridge view is changing . . . trees were being felled behind King's College. But before you throw up your hand in horror, it's all part of a grand plan called The Backs Landscape Strategy, if you follow the link and download The Backs Landscape Report, you'll find a fascinating history of how the land beside the river behind the central Cambridge colleges has evolved over the centuries. Many great landscape architects produced plans and ideas of how it should change, some plans were implemented others weren't. Cambridge University is 900 years old and it sees time in bigger chunks than the life-span of one generation.
You may be surprised to learn that the primary reason for Matron's visit wasn't vegetables, or dogs, but to hear King's College Choir sing in the Chapel – Matron is also passionate about music and in particular choral music.
Not many people realise that anyone can go to Choral Evensong in King's College Chapel, it takes place on most days during the university term times and it cost nothing! You just have to turn up about 15 minutes before the service and join the queue at the door.
Once inside, we took our seats just a few feet from the choir stalls; the light was fading outside and as it did the colours of the huge stained glass windows softened and dissolved into blackness leaving the chapel lit by dozens of candles. The choir quietly processed through the archway under the organ screen and took their places . . . then the service began. We, the congregation, each had our laminated service cards with very precise instructions when to stand, sit, kneel, turn to face the altar. It was a well rehearsed operation – they've done it many times before – just for a few centuries.
Our eyes became accustomed to the darkness so we could see the lacy fan vaulting high above and the choristers' faces as they concentrated hard on following the music . . . 'Erkenne mich, mein Hüter' by Bach; the responses set by Byrd; Psalms 86 set by Atkins and 88 by Colborne; the Magnificat and the Nunc dimittis again by Byrd; and finally the anthem 'In the midst of life' by Purcell.
It was sublime! It was like a meditation, so relaxing and uplifting. Where else can you just walk in for free and hear a 45 minutes of the best choral music in the world!? Just marvelous!
So, how do you follow that then? We met Cliff in The Eagle, one of the oldest of Cambridge's many pubs – frequented in the past by RAF pilots in WWII and Watson and Crick when they were mulling over the structure of DNA; and had a drink before walking around the corner to Fitzbillies for supper . . . which definitely didn't disappoint!
Celia, with thanks to Matron for an excuse for a great day.