Bodnant. 06.06.14

A little jaunt to the north has found us staying in Chester, which amuses Gloria enormously. In a recent poll published in a scurrilous magazine that Gloria subscribes to, the people of Chester came top in a category that could not be considered flattering. Gloria wanted to spend the afternoon in the centre of town making quite sure that the people of Chester knew it. I felt that it was probably not a wise way to spend an afternoon so we compromised and visited Bodnant.

The view of the house reflecting in the pool on the water lily terrace. This is a garden of bold water and reflection, this glancing view of the house seems almost accidental and yet must surely have been contrived. A great many accidents happen on steep hills but I suggest that this is not one of them.

We have arrived at the peak of the Laburnum season and the arched tunnel is looking exactly as it does in all the famous pictures. Gloria paced back and forward with frustration trying to record something unique for this view, even suggesting that I remove all my clothes and pose in the foreground. I suggested that perhaps I wouldn't and she settled for this record of the archway as it looked, on the day. She likes to call it photo-journalism which perhaps means taking the pictures that cannot be avoided.

The Pin Mill is also over-exposed and again I had to decline an invitation to join it. Gloria has found a pure vein of wicked today and is mining it to exhaustion. This pretty little building is usually photographed perched atop its reflection in the long canal in front of it and this angled view makes a small change, snatched from the steps as we descended through the rose pergola. Gloria skipped like a child, I gripped the handrail tightly.

The garden houses a collection of bearded Iris but they had passed their best. Perhaps I might suggest that they passed their best a decade ago and are in need of some attention, but this clump of Iris pallida was magnificent. It shone across the lawns at the top of the garden, ethereal and opulent.

The water mill at the bottom of the garden oozes the peculiar charm of a stage set like a farm in Tuscany portrayed in a Hollywood film from 1930. I admired its preservation (people of my age are always happy to see ancient things survive) but it does not seem real. Gloria spent a few happy minutes inspecting the mill race and admiring the plumbing (which is another pre-occupation of the elderly).

Geranium 'Johnson's Blue' is an old friend and it is a pleasure to see it in Wales. It was once the very best of the blue Geraniums but it has now been replaced with plants called 'Wowzer' and the like. I have my grandson to thank for that phrase, and it was nearly enough to persuade me to strip under the Laburnum after all. Young people use words as though they knew the limits of their potential. The possibility of combining art and education of the young nearly persuaded me. There would be no risk of scandal. All a naked pensioner has to do is faint and the National Trust can be relied upon for a warm cup of tea and a kindly smile. Well worth the price of membership in my opinion.

We have had a day of predictable delight. Gloria has forgotten the residents of Chester and it seems appropriate to end with a Meconopsis. Fragile and serious and demure. We must try harder to emulate it.

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