Gluten free at the Medicine garden Cobham

On one of the hottest days of the year I decided to go and investigate a walled garden with cafe’s and shops in Cobham. I only recently found out about this beautiful walled garden on  Instagram. After seeing lovely pics I was keen to go and explore.

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Not far from the centre of Cobham Surrey the Walled garden can be found on Downside road KT11 3LU . My sat nav didn’t quite get the position right , undeterred I phoned up and a helpful lady explained that it was just a little further up the road. Medicine garden shares an entrance with a fencing company. Both sets of signs are clear to see from the road. There is plenty of free parking and the Gardens themselves are free to enter. A donation is requested for the upkeep of the gardens but this is not compulsory .

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As I visited towards the end of August many of the beautiful flowers were going over, but this did not take away from my overall experience. Bees and butterflies were still busy amongst the remaining bright colours and seed heads stood to attention in the heat on the midday sun.

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It was quite a lot to take in at first, I hadn’t gone with any preconceived ideas. The Medicine garden is enclosed in a gorgeous old wall and with the bright blue sky and honey coloured stone and palm tree you could have been somewhere far more exotic than Cobham. Not that Cobham isn’t a lovely destination !

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Firstly I took a tour around the entire area taking in the Airstream converted to a cafe, a canopied south facing raised seating area with miss match of bright coloured chairs a huge pink leather settee and large ornate mirror.

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A more shady area to the left with white roses growing up the wall and long tables perfect for a large group.

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A small play area fort for 4yrs and up surrounded by sand , full of little ones making the most of the school holidays. Next to a small veggie patch.

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Bike stands available for cyclists  making it a perfect half way spot for an espresso.

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This bike had seen better days but made a perfect container for flowers.

Glistening in the sunshine the vintage Airstream has pride of place serving teas and coffee’s etc from late spring to early autumn.

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On through to the most quirky garden pod cafe, set in the courtyard and formerly the potting shed open daily throughout the year. I was here to seek out any gluten free offerings, and I wasn’t to be disappointed. The staff were very friendly and helpful and explained that all the gluten free cakes and biscuits came from a local bakery Le Papillon Patisserie ( this is not a dedicated gluten free bakery ) but the GF labeled cakes on site in the cafe were stored in separate glass covered containers. There were three choices of gluten free and a vegan choice.

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I chose a gluten free macaroon and a cup of english breakfast tea, I tend to take my own milk as I prefer unsweetend almond. I imagine that the cafe would offer a dairy free alternative to milk. I think my bill was about £4 about average for anywhere in Surrey.

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I carried my tray out onto the south facing terrace under the shade of the huge white canopy . It was maybe a little to hot to be sitting in the sun but it looked so welcoming that I embraced the heat! For those who prefer the shade there was a cool shady courtyard on the other side of the cafe offering relief from the hot sun and many people were sensibly enjoying their lunches in the cool.

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Even though the car park was very busy there was plenty of places to sit I chose a tiny table and chair looking out onto the grass slowly getting scorched in the sun. My gluten free macaroon was a real treat , I have to admit I am always nervous of eating baked goods out as I worry about cross contamination. I have been absolutely fine after eating it and I’m sure they are careful to avoid causing any ill effects. I really liked my mug, and the tea and would definitely take friends along next time.

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Soon the heat became too much so I retreated into the shade of the courtyard. A selection of tiny shops. The Art shed, The Beehive, Blid and Hattan gatherings, The White Orchid flower shop and The Pineapple store entice you in. Plenty of plants for sale too and garden pots etc .

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Most of the little shops were in the shade and on the more northerly side of the courtyard allowing a rest bite from the intense heat of the day. I enjoyed a browse and could think of quite a few friends who would enjoy these indie shops too.

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The courtyard is also home to The Hothouse cafe, on my visit it certainly was a hot house! but on a regular English day I’m sure it would be lovely to sit inside. Gluten free bread was on offer but as always if you are Coeliac check first about their cross contamination policy ( separate toaster etc )

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The Medicine garden does not allow you to bring picnics along, but encourages you to buy something tasty from the cafe’s and eat it in or alfresco on one of the sun decks and for a picnic style you can borrow a blanket or sit on one of the extra large deckchairs.

Babies food is an exception and home prepared can be eaten in the gardens. Many families with young children where gathered in groups under the shade of the trees. Ice creams and lollies were available and I noticed a sign saying most flavours were gluten free. To upkeep the beautiful gardens and walls they  encourage you to purchase something from the cafe’s . A small price to pay to spend as long as you like in this stunning environment and to maintain it for the future.

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I made time to walk around the circle of trees reading carefully the inspirational texts written at each point . Even with the sun beating down it was a few moments of calm.

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My next visit won’t be too far away I’m sure. But I particularly look forward to late spring / early summer 2017 when I’m sure the gardens will be at their best.

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I can really recommend this hidden gem, why not go and check it out for yourself .

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You can follow Medicine garden on Instagram @medicinegardencobham 

Twitter @medicinegarden 

 

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My visit to the stunning Wiveton Hall, normal for Norfolk!

I love the North Norfolk coast and I’m a regular visit to Wiveton Hall ,café and fruit farm . Usually I go along for tea and gluten free cake and buy seasonal fruit and vegetables . I find it a great place to take friends and family.

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The location is just perfect with views stretching down towards the marshes and sea. After watching the BBC 2 series Normal for Norfolk the documentary about Wiveton Hall and the undeniably slightly eccentric character that is Norfolk gentleman farmer Desmond MacCarthy . His mother the lovely Chloe at 100 is still very much part of the farm and cafe and who I spotted enjoying a gluten free brownie , which I have to say looked delicious.

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On Sunday inspired by the tv series I made the drive along the coast road to Wiveton hall fruit farm with my husband. The sun was shining brightly and although the car thermometer was only reading 12c it felt much warmer. The scenery along the coast road was gorgeous. winding through pretty villages, passing a windmill , fields of rapeseed and hedgerows of cow parsley.

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I had pre booked a lunch for two at 1. 30pm We arrived and parked up, as always it was packed . Do book in advance online if you want to eat at Wiveton Hall. Its always been very busy but I’m sure due to Normal for Norfolk’s popularity this summer will be its best!

We were shown to a large clean table with views down to the sea in the distance. Bright coloured chairs and fun patterned table cloths make this light bright airy cafe the perfect place for a sunny Sunday lunch. I was delighted that Desmond himself was in the cafe chatting to families. He kindly agreed to a photo for my blog post and was interested to hear where we had come from.

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Chloe, Desmonds mother has her own designated table. Where she was sitting waiting for her Sunday lunch and possibly waiting for Desmond to finish chatting with one and all and come and sit down!

The big table next to us was a family celebrating the grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. Wiveton cafe is very family friendly and if you prefer there is a seating area outside for families and dogs. The chairs and tables outside are painted in zingy bright colours and have an outstanding view of the Norfolk countryside and distant views of the sea.

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Before I booked online I contacted the cafe by email to explain my dietary requirements. Charlotte emailed me back straight away assuring we I would be well looked after and also giving me a menu idea for my visit that would fit in with my many intolerances. This was very reassuring .

At the cafe you take your order to the till where you can pay in advance or at the end. The  kitchen is open and right next door and if you had any questions, which I did about choice of gluten free puddings they were quickly answered.

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I chose Hot smoked salmon and Wiveton asparagus salad with a horseradish, tomato and lime creme fraise dressing, this was the menu idea from Charlotte.  Followed by homemade Wiveton strawberry sorbet. My husband went for the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with roasties and asparagus. His dessert choice was cappuccino panna cotta  with nut praline and raisins soaked in rum. Tea for one and a ginger beer.

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The drinks and food arrived promptly and were well presented. My salmon and asparagus salad was a good size and delicious the flavours delicate and a flavour combination I hadn’t tried before. Baby salad leaves, fresh asparagus picked from Wiveton farm and a good size piece of salmon with tomatoes. I would definitely chose it again.

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I eat out so rarely that when I do, and feel confident in the chefs , I always get a little emotional. The sheer joy of not having to cook and to be able to eat out like everyone else. That might seem quite crazy and difficult to understand but when you are intolerant to gluten , yeast thats vinegar, wine etc. Onions, garlic and paprika. Eating out becomes so difficult especially with the worry of cross contamination from gluten. These days any of these foods can cause me to be extremely ill for days and weeks to come.

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My husband enjoyed his large roast dinner with perfectly cooked pink slices of beef with crispy Yorkshire with plenty of hot meaty gravy.

Our desserts were both gluten free so I was able to sample to cappuccino panna cotta. My husband wasn’t convinced on the flavour combination with the nut brittle and the rum soaked raisins but I thought it was a clever idea that I’m sure worked well. My Wiveton strawberry homemade sorbet was a real treat. Bursting with early english strawberry flavour and more than a little sugar! ( well it was a treat pud ! )

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I thought the prices were ok my salad was £13.50 and the roast was £16.50 the desserts were £6 each. I found the waiting staff were friendly and very helpful.

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After my delicious meal I suggested we took a walk around the gardens this costs £2.50 each from the shop. Which by the way is amazing and I got carried away buying a Wiveton mug, postcards and Wiveton jam. Some lovely things, much of which is locally made.

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The gardens was something after seeing the tv show I really wanted to explore.

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Unfortunately the hall itself isn’t open to the public this is very much Desmond and his families home. But the walled garden , the outside of the hall and wild woodland gardens  are truly worth an afternoon stroll. I properly fell in love with the place and could of quite easily spent hours there.

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If you are up in Norfolk it is well worth a visit. Just don’t forget to book in advance if you want to eat at the cafe. You can click through here to find availability. There are also holiday cottages to stay in.

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Wiveton cafe is open for lunch and afternoon tea. Friday evenings for Beef and Reef. Saturdays are Tapas night, also pizza evenings . Special events are on the website too.

Before you leave its well worth checking out the plants, fruit and vegetables available to buy.

Wiveton Hall website

follow on Twitter @wivetonhall 

check out @Iizzirainey handmade lovely things available in the Wiveton shop

Missed the series Normal for Norfolk? click here to view 

 

These views and this stunning scenery is really Normal for Norfolk! come and see for yourself

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My review of WOW bakes gluten free cakes

I was thrilled to be asked by Karen to review her Wow bakes cakes recently.

I regularly buy @wowmuffins Savoury and sweet muffins from the @creakeabbey farmers market in Norfolk so was very keen to taste the gluten free cakes. Unfortunately these delicious cakes are not yet available at Creake Abbey farmers market. But are available from Back to the garden in Letheringsett North Norfolk.

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I was able to try 4 of the 5 gorgeous cakes available from WOW bakes

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Fruity apple cake – is also dairy free, a lovely moist cake due to the goodly amount of apple inside. Quite crumbly, the family liked it best with a dollop of double cream. Gluten loving friends gave it a thumbs up too, saying they would never have known it was gluten free. I gave this cake a 8/10 Could definitely be used as a pudding too.

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Belgian Chocolate cake – what can I say!  We were all very impressed with this cake. Rich and delicious reminded us a little of a chocolate torte. I loved the chocolate coating all over the cake. Very decadent. Glad to see butter used in this recipe.  A big favourite with family and friends. I awarded this cake 10/10 and would definitely buy it for a special occasion.

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Carrot cake – this cake is dairy free too. I am a fan of carrot cake and this one is very good and very light. A very moist cake too  and not overly sweet. A definite 9/10 .

Would definitely buy this one if I had guests coming for tea.

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Sticky Ginger cake – Not normally a Ginger cake fan, I was surprised how much I liked this cake. I would buy it again as it was especially nice with a cup of tea and again not overly sweet. Also think it would work well with custard as it was on the slightly dry side. I would still give this cake an 8/10

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WOW muffins & bakes are a Norfolk company and the cakes are available at local farmers markets, shows and local cafes in East Anglia.

Twitter – @wowmuffins

Cafe’s – @back_togarden

Check out there website here wow muffins.com

Gluten free Sponge cake at Holkham

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Today I decided to take a drive to Holkham Hall, thought it would be a great place to take the Dog for a walk.

Dogs need to be on lead at all times due the the many Deer in the parkland.

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My favourite place at Holkham is the Walled garden, so I decided to take a walk there. A golf buggy is also available to ferry you to the garden if you don’t fancy the walk.

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On the way you can see lots of happy pigs, sunbathing today!

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The Walled garden is currently being brought back to its former glory, already it looks amazing!

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The vegetable garden was full of the most amazing veggies ready to be harvested.

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After an enjoyable walk around the garden we headed back to Holkham cafe

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I was pleased to see a choice of gluten free goodies available. Brownies and cake slices from Honeybuns Bakery and Large slices of cake from Sponge. I  decided on a pot of tea and a huge slice of Apple crumble Sponge cake and a tiny carton of Rodda’s clotted cream very indulgent ! But essential for research purposes. Not being able to resist I bought a slice of Honeybuns bakery Almond moon. I’m saving this for a picnic later this week.

I was pleased to see a long line of freshly filled Dog bowls outside the cafe. Much appreciated by my four legged friend.

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The Sponge cake was very delicious, if a little over sweet. Love the combination of apple and cinnamon, great texture too. think you would be hard pushed to tell the difference between this and a regular gluten filled sponge cake. The clotted cream went brilliantly with the cake, felt like I was having a cream tea. Pleased I could buy the cream separately from scones.

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The staff were helpful and friendly and informed me that they also served soup which was gluten free and usually dairy free too.

Will definitely try the soup next time I visit.

After over 2hrs in the sunshine I headed back along the coast with one very tired Dog.

Find more information on Holkham Hall here www.holkham.co.uk

For more information on  Sponge gluten free cakes Perfect for occasional treats.

gluten free cake at Back to the Garden

ImageToday I decided to explore a little more of Norfolk, I had heard via Twitter about a Farm shop and restaurant near Holt.

Back to the Garden is in Letheringsett North Norfolk on the Fakenham road. Very easy to find.

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ImageThe Barn Cafe and Restaurant were very nice, set in a renovated threshing barn.

I loved the photographs on the walls, the restaurant felt very new. As well as the beautiful barn the restaurant and cafe also has a lovely garden where you can eat alfresco. A lovely sun trap too.

ImageI was excited to see what choices there would be for Coeliacs and gluten intolerant customers. I was pleased to see two choices of cakes. A orange and almond polenta cake and a lemon cake. I chose the lemon cake and a English breakfast tea. I would have preferred a caffeine free tea or camomile tea but neither was available. I wished I’d had more time to have a meal but will definitely return with the family to try it very soon.

ImageThe lemon gluten free cake was absolutely delicious and had a sharp lemon and sugary taste. A lovely treat!

I was pleased to see that the gluten free cakes were covered with glass display lids and that my waitress used a new separate knife to cut my cake slice.

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Next to the Barn restaurant is the amazing Farm shop possibly the best farm shop I have seen. Great to see so much local produce, organic vegetables, organic meat including gluten free sausages and beef burgers made on site by the farm shop’s butchers, who had good knowledge of cross contamination. There is also a Deli well stocked with wines and cheese. Brays cottage famous Pork pies and fresh bread for gluten eaters , and gluten free Muffins and cakes from Wow muffins, definitely worth trying.

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ImageI will be returning to this farm shop and restaurant very soon. Definitely worth the drive!

 

 

 

 

A visit to Wiveton Hall Cafe in a thunderstorm

On Friday I took a drive out to Wiveton Hall, a farm and gluten free friendly cafe. Situated on the North Norfolk coast road between Blakeney and Cley.

Unfortunately I seemed to follow a thunderstorm along the coast. The heavens opened and the sky lit up with flashes of lightning, but nothing was going to stop me getting to the gluten free cake!

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Wiveton hall is very much a working farm with pick your own. The farm also has a perfectly placed cafe with distant views out to the sea. Perfect on a dry day! The tables are surrounded by strawberry plants and raspberry bushes and guinea fowl wandering around. Pretty perfect!

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I particularly love the brightly coloured benches and tables inside and out. An idea I have pinched for my own garden.

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As I taken the Dog I sat in the covered area outside.

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Firstly I popped inside to have a look at the huge array of cakes. , The cafe often I think, has a choice of gluten free cakes, today they only had one gluten free cake. But it was a chocolate and almond cake which looked divine! I checked with a member of staff if the cake had its own serving knife, which it did. He then went on to tell me that his Mum was also Coeliac which was reassuring to know he was aware of cross contamination. He went on to say that many Coeliacs ate at the cafe. Good to know!

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My Cake and Camomile tea arrived quickly and I wasn’t disappointed. A rich deep chocolatey pudding type cake, absolutely scrummy. Would have been even nicer with a dollop of thick cream.

The crockery is all Emma Bridgewater, a lovely touch. Not a cheap choice, but added to the overall appeal of the cafe.

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Check out there website here for more information wivetonhall.co.uk

The farm also has a good range of plants and I treated myself to some Sea Lavender for my garden.

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Even in a thunderstorm Wiveton Hall is a great place to visit. I hear the Tapas nights are very good. Booking is advisable for All meals, as this is a popular venue.

Sandringham Flower Show and gluten free picnic.

Today was my first visit to the Sandringham flower show in the grounds of the Queens ‘holiday home’ in Norfolk.

Knowing there would be very little that I would be able to eat there, I baked a loaf of Sukrin sunflower and pumpkin seed bread, which is gluten and yeast free.

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The bread slices beautifully and is very like a good seeded regular loaf. I would say almost better than regular gluten filled bread. Sadly just more expensive!

I made some yummy egg sandwiches and cheese and tomato ones, A real treat when you never normally eat bread.

I was accompanied by my Mum and we headed off early to avoid the crowds. Parking was easy and free. We were directed to one of Sandringhams large fields. Making sure we made note of where abouts we were parked we set off for the small gardens.

ImageSew and Sow was a small garden by Emily Louisa Smith

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Fancy a stroll? by Tamara Bridge

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Modern tranquility by Fakenham garden centre Landscape and design.

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Art, Cities and Landscape BY Sarah Moore, Borough council of Kings Lynn.

We moved on to the Large show gardens, fortunately the sun was still shining and the crowds had not  built up.

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Love every drop by John Farley

To raise awareness of how important water is.

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A large Gunnera plant was used as a centre piece next to the fountain which hit the leaves before disappearing into the gravel.

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Rural Norfolk by Linda and Ralph Nichols

Depicting a disused lime kiln and work shed.

ImageCretaceous garden by Hall landscaping and design.

Featuring a Sarcosuchus better known as a Super Croc!

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A story garden by Jonny Baker.

Inspired by stories from Beatrix Potter.

My favourite of the large gardens.

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We stopped off at the Horticultural talks marquee for a demonstration by Hunstanton’s very own Florist Nicholas Godfrey-Cole from Scent with love

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A very interesting demonstration with lots of tips and ideas for budding flower arrangers.

Outside the rain had started, just in time for Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall to make there entrance.

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Sadly umbrellas and Royal canopy obscuring our view.

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A surprisingly small display of vegetables and fruit. Reminiscent of a local garden show.

By midday we were desperate for our lunch but every food marquee was packed with people sheltering from the rain. We decided to make our way back the the talks marquee, sadly to late to see the next demo by Scent with Love but nice and early for a talk on growing organic vegetables. A great spot for lunch when its raining outside!

Good old British weather!

The sandwiches were delicious and very welcome after a busy morning. So glad we had brought a picnic as very little else available even for gluten eaters and difficulty getting to the stalls. Mainly due to people camping out in the food marquee’s to avoid the rain.

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After visiting a large floral marquee we headed back to the car with a few new beautiful plants to remember our day.