Outdoor activities are hard to predict in any country. In Russia, you may think you are going to get a guaranteed couple of months of minus 15 and tons of snow, and then find that it’s March and you still haven’t had suitable climatic conditions for a proper go at outdoor skating. Or that it’s barely mid November and the snow drifts are up to your hips before the leaves have finished turning yellow, scuppering the last opportunity for walks in the countryside to inhale the delightfully dank smell of rotting leaves and hunt the wily mushroom entirely.
In the UK, of course, the problem is usually rain. Certainly was this last year gone, wasn’t it? Says Mama who abandoned the (typical) heat of a Moscow summer to spend July in a jumper in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Although she’ll admit it picked up a bit there at the end. Briefly.
So we were lucky that the day we went to Hitchin Lavender Farm was actually very pleasant. I believe we may have made do with a light cardigan or something.
Now, I’ll be honest, I was expecting the fields of lavender to be a tad more extensive than one admittedly quite large one round the back of the outbuildings, which just goes to show that you can take the girl out of Russia…
But this almost certainly means that it is a more suitable small person rambling space that the average country walk Mama takes us on if she has half a chance. Especially as instead of expecting me, the city girl, to glory in the variety of trees, grass, the occasional bird sighting and fifteen different varieties of nettle, at Hitchin Lavender Farm you get to wield scissors in earnest in order to cut enough of the smelly blue sticks to fill a few bags to take home with you.
Although I found that a bit difficult, unfortunately. My fingers as yet are insufficiently muscly. As a result Mama and the Grandparents’ determination to stop every few paces and gather more, just a bit more, and yes, a bit more sweetie pie, got a bit old rather quickly. You’ve sniffed one lavender bush, you’ve sniffed them all in my opinion.
Except that this is not true, says an excited Mama, for whom finding out anything new is always a pleasure. Must be her age, because I, personally, was much more jaded about the realisaiton that while the lavender on this side was pretty, the lavender on that side was much more fragrant. You can also imagine her delight in the discovery that photographed from this angle, the boring but stinky flowers looked a rather dull grey, but from the other side of the field the purple highlights showed up much better. It’s lovely to see Mama’s little face light up. Big up to one of Hitchin Lavender Farm’s workers for pointing that out to us.
There is white lavender too!!! Exclamation marks definitely Mama’s.
The adults also enjoyed looking at the view from the top of the field, and admiring the red poppies mixed in with the blue.
I really think they need to get out more.
But Mama brought out the sandwiches at this point so the day improved significantly for me, and Grandad revealed he had coffee, so Mama was also thrilled. Again.
My Twitchy Big Brother liked chasing the swifts (or possibly swallows) who swooped obliging round the giant tent at the bottom of the hill.
And, grudgingly, I am prepared to admit that the fact that Hitchin Lavender Farm has HORSES is also pretty cool, especially as they were very happy to let me stroke their noses!
And yet more small girl pleasing experiences were to come in the shape of the play area next to the cafe, which didn’t just have climbing equipment outside, but also model farm buildings, animals and toy transport items to buzz around under cover. There was lavender flavoured shortbread too. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Says everyone.
All in all, Hitchin Lavender Farm is not a day out, more of an afternoon. And it’s only open in the summer months, and the lavender doesn’t come into full flower until mid June. Which means you should make haste to visit when it is open! Because if you fancy a lunching spot with a difference near Stevenage in July, this will definitely do it for you, even if you are dodging rain showers.
This is what the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has to say about ideas for a small herb garden.
Address: Cadwell Farm, Ickleford, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, SG5 3UA
Opening: Hitchin Lavender Farm is closed from the beginning of September until the beginning of June. Opening hours are 10am to 5pm. The flowering season begins in mid June.
Admission: Adult 5GBP, Kids 1GBP, under 5s free. Picking rights included in the price.
Getting there: You’ll need a car for this one. It’s not far off the A1M. Detailed instructions on the website.
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