I woke up at an unexpectedly decent hour on Saturday to unusually blue skies. With the whole day ahead of me and the advantage of clement weather, I decided spontaneously to go on an adventure to Wakehurst Gardens in Sussex. However, making this decision meant I had to leap up, get dressed, and leave the house within 15 minutes, due to the irregular running of the bus that would get me between Hayward's Heath train station and Wakehurst. But leap I did! If I was going to get that train, I needed a simple outfit that didn't require assembling and that would keep me warm. So I reached for a recent gift from my Grandma - her awesome maxi dress from the '70s.
Ain't in fabulous? (Unfortunately, in the rush to get out of the house, I forgot to put on the matching belt but, hey ho, what can you do? Better a dress without a belt than a two-hour wait for a bus.) The wool and velvet fabrics are perfectly toasty for winter but the colours are happily bright enough for me, adding a splash of colour to darker days... although, with the sun out and not a cloud in the sky, Saturday can hardly have been said to be drab.
So, why Wakehurst? Well, long-term readers may recall that I took out membership for Kew Gardens back in August, with the plan to get back there every season and in as many individual months as possible. Following my August visit, I returned in October and in December (although I didn't record my early winter outfit here as I made a nighttime visit and the photos weren't so great). I could have gone back to Kew on the weekend but membership also gets you into Wakehurst, which is connected with the Royal Botanic Gardens. So I thought I may as well see something entirely (not just seasonally) new. Wakehurst also ended up as a good alternative to Kew for winter as it has more wooded areas, and rambling through these and past rocky outcrops makes up for lack of flowers. They also have a winter garden, apparently, but I didn't quite manage to get there as the whole place was so extensive.
My visit to Wakehurst also started me out on a good foot for my New Year's resolution, which is to make a trip out of London at least once a month. These can be daytrips, overnighters or longer, they can be in the UK (which most will be) or abroad, and they can be to the country, wee villages, cities or anywhere else. I'm already filling up my plate with ideas and have the feeling it may have to be more than once a month in order to get them all in. I may slow down later in the year but it feels particularly nice to have adventures lined up for winter, to grab hold of the Romantic potential of the season and prevent falling into the trap of counting down to warmer days and more daylight hours.
But that's enough pictures of me swanning around in my magnificent sartorial heirloom and blathering on about my plans for the year. Here are some photos of the gardens instead:
And it's not just gardens. At the heart of it all is a wonderful Elizabethan house, around which I tiptoed, hushed by the dark timber panelling and (somewhat bizarrely) a congregation of Christmas trees in the chapel.
If you're based in London or the South, I can definitely recommend a trip to Wakehurst. It made for an absolutely lovely day trip. 2014 is off to a happy adventuring start.