Kevin Smith's Blog

Day 242 - he returns

Thursday, 28 April 2011

It's been precisely 60 days since I last blogged which is, even for me, a staggeringly poor performance. My absence is down to one thing: work. That's right, I've been so busy that I haven't had chance to blog, tweet or even check facebook until today. Honestly, it's true. The past couple of months have been mental.

A lot of things have happened over the last 60 days, all of which I would have usually blogged about, so here's a brief synopsis so you're up to speed:

  • 8 March - a bloody great Iron and Wine gig at The Roundhouse
  • 10 March - Gardeners' World Magazine's 20th birthday party
  • 15 March -  drinks for Harvest at Jimmy's with live music from To Kill A King
  • 25 March - completion of the most stressful bit of freelance work ever
  • 3 April - Mothering Sunday shenanigans
  • 9 April - my first piece was published in the Daily Express
  • 9 April - my first piece was published in Amateur Gardening
  • 14 April - a photoshoot for BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
  • 16 April - a thoroughly lovely holiday to the Isle of Wight
  • 23 April - my second piece was published in Amateur Gardening
  • 24 April - Ruth's 30th birthday celebrations
  • 25 April - proper gardening
With all that water under the bridge, I'm going to concentrate on just one thing for the rest of this post: my holiday to the Isle of Wight. So...

Have you ever been to the Isle of Wight? If not, get yourself on a ferry and take a trip because it's utterly gorgeous. We had a glorious week with plenty to tickle the fancy of the gardener and family man in me. Here are my best bits:

Osborne House
It's impossible to ignore Queen Victoria's famous holiday home, and Gemma, Ida and me spent a lovely day there. Viewing inside the house was a tad stressful (Ida was hurtling from room to room and even set off an alarm in Queen Victoria's bedroom when she sneaked under a rope onto a forbidden carpet), but the grounds were stunning with the most amazing views. Even Gemma, who is known to hate most things about gardening, liked them. The terraces were the highlight, decked out in the most clashing and garish bedding you can imagine. They weren't to my taste, but you've got to admire the gardening team for planting them exactly as Queen Vic's staff would have done in the 1800s. Here's a pic:

Ventnor Botanic Garden
The island's botanic garden feel more like a park than a 'proper' garden, but it's free to get in and is very beautiful nonetheless. There are loads of plants from warm climates and the Mediterranean area, with countless whopping olive trees, is worth a look. It's just the place for a picnic or ice cream, and there's loads of room for kids to run about a let off steam. Here's Ida making the most of my last bit of Magnum:

The Garlic Farm
I've been buying  mail-order garlic from this place for years, so I was very keen to check it out. And I wasn't disappointed - there were pretty gardens and a fab shop selling no end of delicious local produce. The best bit, however, was the cafe. Gemma and me discovered it opens on a Friday evening in the summer months and managed to sneak out for an absolutely delicious meal (my parents came away with us and looked after Ida). It's well worth a visit and we enjoyed one of our best meals in years. Here's a shot of my starter (something involving chorizo, beetroot, rocket and crostini) that I managed to craftily snap on my phone:

Steephill Cove
This gorgeous spot was recommended by a friend and was, by far, my most favourite place. It's on the south side of the island and accessed by a scarily steep path which was somewhat of a challenge with a buggy and flimsy flip-flops. But it's worth the effort, with a pretty beach, a couple of cafes selling the freshest crab and seafood and a shop offering beachy trinkets. Here's a shot so you can see what I'm harping on about:

So, there we are. I've worked my socks off, had a thoroughly lovely holiday and am back on the scene again. Let's hope it doesn't take me as long to write another post!

Until next time...

Ooh, one more thing: if you're about to plant hanging baskets check out my piece in the May edition of Gardeners' World Magazine. Here's a scan of the feature so you know what you're looking for!

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Kevin Smith | Garden Media Writer and Editor

On 31 August 2010 I quit my full-time job as the Commissioning Editor at Gardeners' World Magazine to be a stay-at-home dad  and to try and scratch a living as a freelance garden journalist. It's often said that a 'life change' is good, but can I cut it with the yummy mummys? Will I manage to get a single shred of work done? Will Ida (she's the gorgeous little girl who's the cause of all this) like gardening as much as me? Who knows, we're going to find out...