Spring has arrived, and with it the assorted out of town events we like to take in.
First on the agenda was an early visit to Sarah Raven's garden at Perch Hill, East Sussex. They usuaully hold a couple of open days later in the year, but this year there are more, including an early spring one for bulbs.
Sadly, the weather has meant that plants such as Narcissi have been held back, and Sarah Raven's was really quiet, but because the garden was so far behind, entrance was free. However, plants that should have passed their peak, such as Snowdrops, Winter Aconites and of course Hellebores were still in full bloom, and the vegetable garden still had hardy winter vegetables such as Kale and assorted hardy Oriental salad leaves (Mustard & Mizuna) and Radiccio in the ground.
Visiting a great garden in the off season may not seem exciting, but seeing the "bare bones" is a very rewarding exercise. You get to see the layout, the soil and its additions uncovered. You also see how shrubs are pruned and trained, and the various structures used to support plants at their fullest. We did this on an early visit to Hyde Hall some years back. I'm not a fan of fancy roses, but seeing the structures in place to carry the rambling roses along the rope lined pergolas was interesting all the same.
Not much in the way of food stalls unfortunately (and no cheese stall at all), but Judges Bakery were there. Treated myself to macaroons and brownies, plus a sourdough loaf. Sadly when I got home, I discovered the loaf I'd bought was riddled with sesame, so I'll have to give it away. Sesame is a known allergen, causing serious, potentially fatal, reactions. Why do people contaminate perfectly good foods with dangerous ingredients?
Afterwards we drove through the Sussex countryside to Middle Farm, a working dairy farm with an "open farm", farm shop and The English Cider & Perry (plus mead & country wines) centre shop alongside, on the A27 near Newhaven. We had a look round the barns, meeting a donkey foal, angora goat kids, various farm cats and assorted poultry, including Frizzle bantams and low flying peacocks.
We watched the farm's herd of Jersey cows being milked (love watching this - it reminds me of childhood holidays in Powys when I helped the farmer and his family in the milking parlour), then went to meet some of the latest additions to the herd. I was wearing my green suede jacket, which caught their eye, and I was on the receiving end of the calves' prehensile tongues. I can't help it if I look like a tasty bale of hay!
After looking round the farm, I bought seven different Sussex cheeses in the farm shop, then sampled several and bought one each of single variety cider & perry.
As we left the Cider & Perry centre part of the farm, the clouds finally burst, and once the worst had passed, made our way home.