Last Friday, Millman Street Centre members enjoyed a day trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. After tea and sandwiches (provided, as ever, by Sue), they embarked on the Kew Explorer Carriage Ride, a gentle drive around the gardens, narrated (with tremendous good humour, considering how often he must have done it) by the driver. His narrative provided a wealth of information about the history of the gardens and its cornucopia of plants and flowers. This included a couple of Victorian follies, the Chinese Pagoda, the Japanese Temple and the Temperate House – the largest of its kind in the world, currently under restoration. As the carriage ride progressed, there were views across the Thames, to Syon House.
Along the trail, members also saw ducks and geese, and the Rhododendron Dell, the last remaining work of Capability Brown. Kew Palace, the Orangery, Conservatory and Ice-House were also on the itinerary. As was the sprawling Weeping Beech, one of more than 14,000 trees that the gardens contain.
After the official tour, members also went inside various of the structures (and experienced their varied temperatures), including the Palm House, designed by Decimus Burton, and featuring 16,000 sheets of curved glass. This was fronted by an array of “Heraldic Beasts” – statues of unicorns, griffins and other mythical creatures – one of which, as the driver observed, to some amusement, “reminds me of Scooby Doo!”
Margaret enjoyed the day out. “Its nice in the fresh air,” she said, also enjoying being driven around in the carriage, observing the trees, plants and cacti.
“Its been lovely,” Pam agreed. “Excellent. (The gardens are) Interesting and well looked-after.” She had been to Kew several times before, if not recently. “A wonderful place!” she said.
Helena thought it was “Lovely! All the lovely flowers, some I’ve never seen before; also the trees, cacti and different types of fish.”
There were also sizeable water-lillies, some pirahnas, an iguana and bright blue Discus Fish. Bettina said, “I always enjoy myself. We all get together; a joke and a laugh with everybody. Usually, somebody makes a couple of jokes.”
Edward also enjoyed the outing, his highlight being the “tour on the road train. The driver was a real host!” He hadn’t been to Kew for a long time. “It was a great opportunity to see it and be able to enjoy it again.” He went on, “I’ve never seen an iguana up close; it was an opportunity I’d never have had otherwise. It’s a lovely place; to get the opportunity makes it special.”
Zade also enjoyed herself, as did Ken. “The train ride was quite descriptive; the (huge) water-lillies and temperate climate in the Princess Diana Conservatory,” were amongst his highlights.
Back at the café for a breather, amid the well-fed pigeons, Edward saw a peacock. The creature roistered around on the café roof before taking to the air, then the ground amid the café tables, giving the pigeons stiff competition for scraps. Despite a few spots of rain, the weather held.
Betty Wood said, “I had a good time and enjoyed the carriage ride. And the geese – I’d like a photo of a goose!” No fan of the cacti, Betty liked the fuchsias and roses, and the banana plants. “We couldn’t reach ’em to eat ’em!” she chuckled.
Holborn Community Association would like to thank Chris and Veronica from Nabarro, who joined HCA’s regular volunteers to help members to enjoy the day at Kew.