War Memorial Gary Trouton

Wandering Around the Wissey

August 2001

A tour of local gardens

Inspired by Graham Forster's A Day Out in Norfolk, we decided to take advantage of the many local events scheduled throughout the month of July. And what an eye opener that proved to be!

As a practice run, we went along with friends at the end of June to visit the lovely gardens of Ashpond House, here in Stoke Ferry. The weather was glorious and the hospitality, as you would expect, wonderful. Claire herself provided us with a guided tour but only after we had first crossed David's palm with silver to gain access through the Ashpond portcullis. But the entry fee was well worth it and, indeed, most of it went to charity. A delightful stroll around a real English country garden in the glorious June sunshine followed by tea and cakes on the lawn (served by Claire's Mum and Dad) really takes some beating.

Thus having got the drift of proceedings we went on a veritable feast of local activities. Our spirits lifted by our Ashpond adventure we decided to be more adventurous and take on the Beachamwell village gardens (all 15 of them) on the first Sunday in July. Once again the weather was scorching hot and off we went in a small group to brave the local jungles. We began to feel somewhat less adventurous, however, when we received our map and saw just how many miles we would need to cover in the hot son. We were also slightly taken aback by the vicar, who in selling us tickets reminded us that burials were extra! However, nothing daunted, off we went at a right royal trot led by our visiting octogenarian. To say we were astounded would be an understatement. We saw gardens that would be a credit to a stately home in a small council cottage and met people of a remarkable cross section. There were Beachamwell residents who had lived in the village all their lives and in-comers who had arrive the month before. The greeting from new and old alike was, however, unanimous. We were made welcome and invited to discuss the shrubs and plants with our hosts for as long as we needed. And all proceeds went to the local church.

The next weekend saw us trying a double header. First on the Saturday we undertook the Northwold Scarecrow trail. This was the fourth year of this remarkable event and, if anything, the scarecrows have got more imaginative each year. We tried desperately to find the 30 effigies with letters attached that would enable us to make a well-known phrase or saying but we failed. Once again, a cream tea enlivened the day's events and some wonderful locally made ice cream helped to revive the flagging spirits on the long route round the village. The Sunday saw us off to Blackborough End where the whole village, it seemed, had established stalls and sale rooms in their gardens, garages or just on the front lawn. Once again, the delight of the day was the local people who gave so much of their time and effort to make all their visitors welcome. A lovely day would not have been complete without the inevitable cream tea.

All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our wander around the Wissey community. We met some wonderfully friendly people and felt that we had in some way contributed to a vast range of charities. Must go now so that I can get into training for the next series of Wissey Wanders; if it wasn't for the cream teas I would have lost pounds, honest!

Ray Thompson

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