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Plant writings, gardening thoughts & observations of Paul Hervey - Brookes, Award Winning Garden Designer & Plantsman.
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Monday, 17 August 2009

We Went Away

We have not long returned from a couple of days away camping in our 1971 Blacks of Greenock ‘Good Companions Major’ tent. We are the second ever owners, having purchased it recently from its original owner in York. Older readers will remember the good old days of camping, with the rich scent of canvas above your head and near pitch black in the inner tent safely tucked under the flysheet. We motored to the Gower, an area we have been to on a number of occasions being not to far away from home for a short stay but isolated on its peninsula far enough away from the main landmass for the water to be blue and the invading arcades, ye oldie’s and the like to yet have moved in.

Fresh from a first nights sleep under canvas we set of on Saturday morning for, reportedly, a particularly stunning isolated beach. Over the winter the path had eroded, its not global warming, just a lack of investment in our coastal defences causing the demise of our route but eventually over rocks and through gorse we made our way. The beach was beautifully isolated, soft golden sand surrounded by rock pools and the rumbling sea in front of us; with a hint of sun there was nothing for it but to strip off and head for the sea. Now battling waves for a fewhours is tiring work, not to mention making you a bit hungry. So we made our way over the rock pools to find lunch, literally! I had noticed on our scramble down to the beach a host of wild marjoram, salad burnet and some plump blackberry’s. From the rock pools we had easy picking of winkles, mussels, clams and cockle’s, lunch with the aid of some collected up drift wood was served, Sean ate the salad, and I predominately ate the shell fish.When we go camping we like it basic and often imagine how good it would be to pitch up on the coastal paths away from the people in blissful isolation. On this trip we stayed in a new site to us, it was just a field backing on to the cliffs and coastal walks.

Looking over the rock pools it struck me of the wealth of food available and what fun we had collecting up our lunch, considerably more fun I regret to say than our weekly trip around Waitrose. Lovely as it is.

During the afternoon we went for a walk along the coast and were rewarded with the sight of a cliff face covered in deep magenta heather flowering amongst the Gorse interjected with cranesbills and more marjoram. The smell of the gorse was heavenly and the cliff looked like to was covered in gold. From the coastal face of the rocks we walked through a drift of oak, and hawthorns all gnarled and bent over by the fierce winter gales which must mercilessly beat their way inland from the sea. I also noticed a lot of bay seeded almost everywhere along with little holly seedlings and Eupatorium topped with dusky pink flower heads.

Sunday after breakfast cooked outside the tent, saw us take to the waters again and never tiring of wandering with our faithful four legged companion’s, well one out of the two because the other is not in the best of health and has to travel a la rucksack, we again headed out over the rocks until late in the afternoon.

Sadly the weekend was over fair to quickly, and eager plans of our next snatched break were happily hatched as we folded, tied and packed ourselves back into the car for the trip home, joining us on the way back was some seeds I collected of lavatera arborea, there are no lighthouses on the Gower so I suspect it has blown in from the neighbouring Devon coast, once an important livestock food its got itself a bit of a bad name especially on the islands of Scotland, but as we grow the variegated species I will give it go, for comparison if nothing else.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have you ever visited the islands of Scotland? There is a similar remoteness to some of them. You might enjoy the Black Isle, Arran & Bute.

Paul Hervey-Brookes said...

Thank you, I have visited Arran when I was studying at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Scotland has such stunning scenery and I have not seen nearly enough of it. Sean & I hope to make a return for a much longer stay and will take up your suggestions.

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