I went on a train trip yesterday. A day out at Gardeners’ World Live. I decided not to drive as every time I visit the NEC, on the way out I seem to become entangled in a vortex of roads which drag back me closer and closer to the showground. Eventually, I break free of the NEC’s gravitational pull (all those huge sheds there must contain black holes or something), and I fly off in a random direction. I spend the next 10 minutes driving along looking at road signs, trying to determine whether I’m on the right road or not. Usually I’m not.
Anyway, I went on the train, and thoroughly enjoyed the journey. It allows the blossoming of my inherent nosiness – I get to peer into a myriad of back gardens, and snigger when I see industrial units proudly displaying the fact that they manufacture pipe flanges. There is something intrinsically funny about the word flange, so I make no apology for saying it again.
It was an early start yesterday, as I wanted to be at the NEC at opening time, to avoid the heaving crowds later in the day. I had a delicious feeling of skiving off as I watched people peering bleary-eyed at laptops and all I had to do was watch the countryside slip past.
Whilst peering into gardens, you become struck by the gradual spread of the dark circles of trampolines, like bouncy acne spreading across the face of the suburban British garden.
As a counterfoil to the ugly elasticated playthings, it was a joy to see the swathes of ox-eye daisies in the rough grassland, and poppies around the edges of cereal fields.
It was also interesting to see the floral adornments of some of the stations. Of course, Birmingham New Street is an underground behemoth, devoid of foliage. However, at the edges of the tunnels a few gallant plants grow, and look all the better for putting themselves there. Ferns, ivy-leaved toadflax and the ubiquitous buddleia thrive in cracks and crevices. Rather nicer than the display at Chester station, which was rather twee (not to mention very dry). But at least they tried. If a few people were cheered by some petunias, then the world is a better place.
The NEC was its usual soulless self, (though with a good sprinkling of interesting gardens and plants) but that’s another post.