There is every year a special event in a place called La Grande Commanderie Nationale d'Alden Biesen . It is a very historic and important place and this is what happens once a year: Scotland exports itself to Flanders.
Here is the link for more details: www.scottish-weekend.be
The Scottish weekend took place just the weekend before we set out for the UK and so we got already the taste of Scotland whilst still being in Belgium. Plenty of competitions can be watched be it for pipe bands who came from all over Europe, for highland games, for dog's agility test and plenty of stands to buy nice Scottish (and other) items. We were lucky enough (in all that crowd) to meet with two different couples of friends just on the spot. The day was sunny, pleasant and due to the Guinness and the cider, the hours passed in no time and it soon got dark night and we enjoyed until the end the music and especially the band "capercaillie". But also all other bands who were performing were brilliant!
Soon after that, we took the tunnel instead of the ferry in order to save some time on our way up North. And had our first rest here: HEVER CASTLE in Kent.
The first impression was more of "the usual castle" but when we explored around those fantastic gardens, we were both quickly delighted of the display and the way it was mixed between ancient stone, statues, features and garden areas.
The "welcome" is dominated by all these topiairies and one is easily impressed by the wide space around the castle.
We entered the walled garden area which leads you from one theme to another and everytime plenty of stone features are integrated in the scenery. In fact, Hever is not only famous to be the childhood place of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIIIth 2nd wife but has also one of the best collections of Italian sculptures in its "Italian Garden".
How wonderfully is that acer integrated?! I admire garden designers who have imagined this some 100 years ago, the wall would have been the same but the tree would have been like a tiny twig then.
All the different little areas give plenty of inspiration for a today's young garden
- like ours ;-).
At the end of the walled section, one arrives at this breath taking lake view. It is a real surprise to find it just there and it has a good size. One could even have an illusion of sea side.
On the way back in direction to the castle, it is all arched.
Then one arrives at the Dahlia spot. Hundreds and hundreds of dahlias in all size, colour, shape. A very good collection.
After that, we enter the rose garden. The gardener there explains that they are 7 full time gardeners. I wished I could borrow one of them from time to time to do those perfect deep edges around the borders.
Due to this visit, our lovely red rose which moved from the UK 11 years ago and which could never be found an identity for, is now revealed: it is "deep secret". This rose has a dark, healthy foliage, its flower is dark red, almost like the Baccara rose and it has a very sweet fragrance a bit like Marzipan. Whilst being dark red, it does love to be in the full sun. It is now pictured on the top of my blog.
The roses below are Buxom Beauty (purple) and Indian Summer (yellow). Both also with good fragrance.
As those garden areas are complete and miss nothing, they have also a dump section. The water which drips down on the side of all those arches leads eventually to a mystic grotto corner.
Leaving Hever Castle with plenty of pictures in our heads (and on the camera), we would have loved to go into the pub right outside (Henry VIIIth) but we have to continue through East Anglia only for to stay overnight in Bury St. Edmunds. This was unforeseen as we had a booking confirmation in the area of Swaffham. When we could not find it in pooring rain in later evening, I called the lady to find out the way but I found out instead that they had not registered our booking. However, this coincidence would not spoil our journey and we had a lot of fun with the other hotel where the kind of service reminded very much of "Fawlty Towers".
Next morning we set out for Scarborough.