A ‘Watery Ladies that lunch’ was the theme of the WI July meeting.
Recognising the much enjoyed face-to-face contact at last month’s garden party and the need to follow current social distancing guidelines the committee suggested an outing for July’s meeting.
A trip to the Leckford farm shop for lunch and then on to view the Water Gardens, weather permitting. Linda kindly organised car sharing lifts and tickets for the Water Gardens, cheerfully coping with participant numbers that ebbed and flowed a little. Some preferred just lunch, others lunch then a wander around the garden centre, four opted for lunch and the Water Gardens. All hoped for time to see the herbaceous beds at Leckford. Fingers were crossed for pleasant weather and hopes high for a merry catch-up.
The day arrived, the weather settled to more sun than cloud, and all set off in good time to arrive before the 12:00 lunchtime rush. Or so we thought!
As we drove up to the Leckford Farm shop the inside tables looked mainly empty. The first clue that things were slightly challenging was the mostly full car park. The second clue was the line of patiently standing people queuing to order food; which explained the mainly empty inside tables. The greeting smiles and happy waves of the first arrivals lightened the moment. It was so lovely to be catching up again. The third clue then revealed itself – all the outside tables were socially distanced to seat a maximum of four people. And of the remaining free tables some had two seats, one had none, and none were close enough to at least sit within hailing distance of the first arrivals.
The ensuing game of find a table with enough chairs for the last group began. Three seats were found; a fourth needed and we were at least able to semaphore the other table. Still minus one seat a scout went to investigate if we could have two nearby tables inside. Then two outside side-by-side tables become free – one with four seats. So, we go to secure these. Only to lose all to a perfect pincer manoeuvre. As we approach, someone from the queue slides into the seat of the table with four seats. Simultaneously, newcomers thankfully ease into the three seats we have just left! All is not lost, Louise returns to say “yes we can have side by side tables inside” so in we go. Not realising until too late that to avoid a mass rush of WI through the food queue we had inadvertently gone through the exit!
At last, we were all seated and ready to order – Louise kindly took everyone’s order. And queued… for quite a while letting the rest of the group swop news and catch-up.
After a cheerful lunch of cheese scones or sandwiches with tea, coffee or elderflower the party split to enjoy the garden centre or Water Gardens.
The Water Gardens were a delight. Shady areas along the winding paths enabled relief from the strong afternoon sunlight. Initially we followed the gently meandering path along the water. Whilst the water lilies were just starting to open splashes of yellows, pinks and reds along the way drew your eye to look at different viewpoints.
There were so many different sizes and forms of greenery. Looking up at the enormously tall trees where the path curved back to the other side of the water made you dizzy. The returning path now gave the option to carry on or cross low plank bridges crossing from island to island. We happily meandered over bridges between islands discovering a secluded hut, ducks, beautiful flowers, gracefully shaded areas, spongy ground and softly whispering bamboo. After a very pleasant hour and a half we met one of the gardeners at the exit, where it was stunning to learn the beautiful gardens we had just enjoyed are cared for by just two gardeners.
Many thanks to Linda and Louise for making this a very enjoyable outing.