The day we went to Malvern

I took my camera to Malvern but somehow the fact that it was cold and I was enjoying the company of Zoe means I didn't get it out so this blog will have to be a picture free zone.  Hopeless.

Setting off on Thursday felt a bit like playing hookey, all by myself in the car, leaving all my usual responsibilities behind.  I was reminded again of how much I like driving when it is just the car and me and the open road, or the M6 which is not quite so Mr Toad-like.

I was staying at Bredon House (recommended, good position, great breakfasts) with Zoe and Karen from An Artist's Garden and Karen's sister in law Jane.  This was quite a cunning way of managing the meeting up with bloggers as I had already met both Zoe and Karen and thought that this would feel more like a reunion with friends and less like plunging in to a roomful of strangers and it did. Meeting blogging friends is an odd sensation,  never actually quite like meeting a stranger, more as I imagine it might be to meet up with a penfriend.  I wouldn't know.  I was a very poor correspondent and never managed to create one of those long distance relationships with a penfriend which I rather envied in my more dedicated letter writing friends.  But bloggers, now I have met quite a few bloggers and it is always a delight.

Thursday night was a meal in a pub.  We walked in and within seconds Helen was there showing us to the table.  We must just look like gardeners I suppose!  Perhaps she was looking at our hands.  You just have a few moments on first meeting a virtual friend when the reality of what they look like can cause you a mild surprise before the real person overlays the image in your head.  Within half an hour you can't imagine that they could ever be anything other than what they are.  So there was patientgardener (taller and slimmer than I thought she would be), VP (taller, thoughtful), Anne (exactly as I had imagined), Yolandaelizabet (I thought she was blond).  Then there were the people further up the table, some of whom I managed to speak to and some of whom were just too far away.  It was great to talk to Gayle (what on earth do I mean if I say someone doesn't look American? Not sure, but she doesn't, she looks English) and to feel that wonderful sense of connection to someone from far away.  I knew I hadn't had the chance to talk to Frances and Ewa so hoped to catch up with them the next day.

The day of the show kicked off with a massive breakfast: blueberries and raspberries and yoghurt followed by bacon and scrambled egg and toast.  I could eat like that every day if someone else made and served it and I had such good company.  Karen and Zoe had both warned that they were not morning people but it didn't show! Perhaps the excitement woke them up early.

The day was cold but soon warmed up by meeting other bloggers.  Zoe and I met up with Milla and that was just as good as I had thought it would be.  We drifted around show gardens.  I hardly dare to say this but show gardens are not really my sort of thing.  I like places that have evolved perhaps rather than been designed and I found much of the planting rather contrived and spotty.  Then I came across the Garden of recovery and wellbeing which I absolutely loved.  Perhaps it was the nettles and the jack in the green behind the chicken shed or the chickens themselves, both of which reminded me of home, or the beautiful tiled path.  It was a little oasis of calm in the midst of the bustle.  I also liked Trackbed, based on a railway line on the Welsh borders, and Deb Bird's The Nature of Nurture with its fabulous ivy covered fence and covetable greenhouse.

The highlight of the show for me was the floral marquee.  I could feel my stomach fluttering with excitement.  All those stalls, all those plants and amazingly helpful and knowledgeable people like Avon bulbs, patiently  explaining to me that the camassia I had fallen in love with probably would not like my stony fastdraining soil but pointing me in the direction of a fritillary I had never even heard of.  I was determined to be careful in my plantbuying.  There is nothing more demoralising that having everything die on you.  So I bought some beautiful epimedium, some delightful bunny grass and couldn't quite resist some scented leaved geraniums, complete with some advice as to how to keep them over winter.  It was heaven.

Evening was a visit to Helen's house.  Her garden is even better in the flesh than in photographs and I fleetingly longed for a damp enough spot so that I could grow her ligularia.  Dream on.   Here I did catch up with Ewa and Frances, met Victoria and Lia and generally felt that I had not enough time to talk to everyone again!  So if I haven't included your name here I apologise wholeheartedly, it is my terrible memory (oh also met Anna and Claire and Sally, oh I should never have started this naming people thing).  Everyone without exception was interesting and good company.

And the next morning I whizzed off.  I should have had another day.  I should have had time to go back round the floral marquee a couple of times and to look at all the outside stalls.  There were some fabulous craft pieces as well when I could tear my eyes from plants.  There were people I felt I had met only fleetingly - VP, Happy Mouffetard, Wild Somerset Child - who I would have loved the chance to talk to  for longer.  Even those I did meet for longer left me with a sense it was all too short.  Thanks so much for all the organising to VP and patientgardener.  It was just great.


  1. Hee hee! I purposely avoided mentioning names in mine cos I knew it would be a nightmare once I'd started. Was very lovely to meet you, and I am not at all bitter that I wasnt one of the 'taller and slimmer than I imagined' ones...

  2. Those pictures were better than the ones not in your camera!

    What a lovely time you all had.


  3. it was indeed far too short. I had a lovely time - E loves his tree ... oh, I think we had parted company by the time I bought the tree. Best hope Zoe doesn't read this, she thinks the few scant items that found their way into my possession constituted a lot. The innocent!

  4. You are so kind describing me as taller and thinner!!
    I know who you were when you arrived at the pub as I recognised Karen, who I have met before - dont worry you didnt look like a gardener!!!!

  5. Ah Lia, you were just young and I had already imagined you tall and slim.
    Celia - we did. It was so much fun.
    Milla - a tree? What tree?
    Patientgardener - ah I get it now, thought it was the grime encrusted hands, for both me and Karen I think!

  6. It was fun meeting you Elizabeth, such a pity we didn't have more time for a chat.

    I am blond from time to time but not when we met. :-)

  7. Good for you! Meeting so many bloggers at once would terrify me, but you make it sound like a lovely experience.

  8. You've described, perfectly, the sense of recognition and tiny bit of confusion too, that comes when one meets a blogger - especially one with whom one has 'chatted' for some time. It sounds like you had a grand time!

  9. I did scrub my hands honest -

    A delightful post Elizabeth - absolutely no camera required. I enjoyed your company at the B&B, together with Jane and Zoe - all in all - a fun time.


  10. Elizabeth, I loved meeting you and wished we had had more time to visit...and it's entirely possible that my English and Irish ancestry is showing through! My camera batteries ran out at one time and it was actually a gift to wander around and see the garden~gail

  11. Great to meet you Elizabeth albeit too briefly. I didn't take many photos either because I was perished but your post conveys all the enjoyment of the occasion without them. The marquee was my favourite part of the show too. Hope that your new purchases flourish.

  12. Hi Elizabeth, it was a joy to meet you even though we did not get to have as much in depth discussion as I would have liked. Putting faces to the blogs was very enjoyable. :-)

  13. I've only met two Cooers and one other blogger apart from Rosie who I knew before and yes it is strange you know so much about them - have already so much in common with them - but yet also you are strangers. Do please look in if you are ever down this way.

  14. This is unbeatable experience to know the faces behind blogs - that meeting in Malvern is transforming my approach to blogosphere which becomes less anonymous and less virtual.
    It was lovely to meet you and have a chance to chat - you made me want to visit Wales :)
    Hugs from Poland,

  15. This is a really big project..
    some big job.. Good luck,,Have a great day


  16. It seems all so long ago now and so much has happened since we met, and I really meant to email and say how delighted I was to be able to speak to you for even so brief a moment in the cold and wet. I haven't forgotten the Blackden Trust leaflet you gave me (hope I have the name correct) and will investigate as soon as I have a moment. Life is too short ..... Ann

  17. I was very intrigued by your description of your blogger meet-up in Malvern. First of all, my oldest daughter is going to school in Malvern next year! Second, I realized that you have a whole new community that I've never heard of. I've been, for a while now, in a bit of blog rut and haven't opened myself up to new friends.

    As for meeting blog friends, it is JUST as you describe it. I've met half a dozen of my blog friends and they always seem much like their blogs -- with a bit of tweaking to the mental image of their physical selves/voices. I'm American, too; I wonder if you would find me so?

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