Before B. and I left Herefordshire I was determined to visit Westonbury Water Mill gardens near Pembridge. We had promised to take Rory and Erin; my sister Brenda and her grandchildren Joseph and Xander were able to meet us there for a lovely family day out.
If you get chance, especially if you're local, do seek it out; you will not be disappointed. Three and a half acres filled with a tangle of ponds, streams and vividly colourful plants, swathes of grasses and many mature trees. Little surprises around every corner to fill the senses and inspire the imagination. Spiral paths, a mound to climb and fun follies, like the stone watertower, a giant cuckoo clock with 'Heath Robinson' style workings, and my favourite the sparkling grotto made from wine bottles. There is also a seating area and small cafe,and some plants for sale. The children loved the variety of spaces, fun follies and the freedom to explore. www.westonburymillwatergardens.com
My sleep has been interrupted by my impending house move and thoughts on the absurdities of car parking. We use a communal car park that has been in existence since the houses were build about sixty years ago. Its a very good, practical arrangement and also offers a fairly high measure of security. It's a council owned square of land in the centre of houses that all back on to the car park at the end of each garden. This means that everyone from their bedroom window can see into the carpark, and everyone can keep a watchful eye on all the cars parked. There are no allotted spaces as such but everyone knows who parks where, generally in the same car parking space with a bit of give and take at weekends when there are visitors who are not familiar with the arrangement. It is also where everyone puts out their bins once a week, for the dustbin men to collect the rubbish. There has never been a carparking problem. It therefore came as a surprise to be asked by the solicitor to get a sworn statement that we, and previous house owners have always parked in the car park. This statement had to be witnessed by another solicitor, at a standard cost of seven pounds between solicitors that goes straight into their pocket. Five pounds being for the written, sworn statement and two pounds for him to witness and date the map of the carpark. To get this witnessed we had to go to a different firm of solicitors. Our solicitors office is at the top of a very old building with a steep narrow winding staircase where you either get very fit climbing up, or have a heart attack! In complete contrast the solicitor at the other end of the street is in modern offices. My exercise for the day was walking quickly between the two offices, twice, - firstly my name had been spelt in two different ways on the statement, as pointed out by the second solicitor and had to be changed, and then had to go back a second time as he had only signed one page, when apparently both pages need to be signed and dated. Both solicitors had made simple mistakes and apologised, meanwhile I'm exhausted. Coincidentally, I bumped into a neighbour who had sold their house just a month ago - they had occupied three parking spaces as they were driving instructors and also owned a camper van. She was amazed when I told her what had just transpired, and told me they hadn't been asked to sign any documents about car parking, and had never heard of such a thing.
Of course this maybe something to do with car parking charges - we've never had to pay for parking only for garage rental. The parking charges in town have become astronomical - 70p for half an hour, which hardly gives you time to go to the bank. £1.20p for every hour. We know the council is strapped for cash, but it must be one of the highest charges in England.
But carparking did remind me of going to a meeting once where there were too few car parking spaces, where a councillor complained very loudly that someone had taken his carparking space, which strictly speaking didn't belong to anyone. After he had gone through the door the cleaner turned to me and said, " I expect someone a long time ago, told him he was very important , and he's never forgotten it.".
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