I catch the #12 bus but have to change twice for no obvious reason except the vagaries of London transport.
I am the only person on the bus with a copy of the Guardian. The rest are either talking on the mobile or to themselves. (OK I exaggerate but it seemed that way).
Jo picks me up near Peckham Rye and we drive to Sissinghurst. Finally I am to see Vita Sackville- West’s White Garden deep in Kent. Such anticipation. We arrive…. it’s closed on Wednesdays………what to do? What would any red-blooded Australian woman do?
I found a shy young gardener and explained I was flying back to Australia in two days. She was very sorry but it was not possible…. the garden was being maintained today…. there could be lawn mowers…. occupational health and safety issues…. volunteers on the loose…. no management around to ask…. they were on a course (of course). I used an approach well out of my usual repertoire. Persistent silence. It was all very awkward.
Finally with her unknowingly knowing, behind a gate marked Private I found the secret entrance in a hedge and lo! In the words of the constabulary….I perpetrated illegal entry.
Jo worried needlessly for the gardener; I told her she had become too English.
A very personal, private, somewhat shorter than it might have been, wander through the very beautiful gardens. The buildings themselves (based around in old castle of warm Kent brick) are architecturally charming.
Back to London, a quick change and my first 15 minute watch of Wimbledon so busy have I been and then off to Corrigans in Mayfair. Food as good as a good but not great, Sydney nosherie. Service pretty average but the lime souffle with mascapone was a standout. The most serendipitous thing about the evening is that they had (and we drank) a bottle of Carmengeano wine from Cappenzana where I lived once in Tuscany and where Jo had come to visit. I have often searched unsuccessfully for the same.
Thursday 30 July, morning
Must try to get to Harrods and Harvey Nic’s. It is my last day. The strike will be interesting. Have to pack and then meet Abi for supper and to see Dominic West – from The Wire – at the Duchess . Also have to work out how to get to Heathrow without mortgaging the house
How will I wake up early tomorrow?