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Great Comp Visit

By John Wild

Sunday,  April 14th dawned clear but cold.   There was a promise of a warming day ahead,  an excellent day for visiting a major garden in Kent,  the Great Comp garden at Platt, near Sevenoaks.  

  And so we found ourselves at 10am in a Leo's Pride coach being counted for the umpteenth time,  before setting off for another fine day out organised by Margaret and Martin.    Some of us know how much work  and worry goes into arranging these trips,  and yet Margaret was still at pains to apologise for not having baked any treats to be eaten en route.   But she did buy some fruit so that we had  sustenance.

An hour or so later and we were arriving at Great Comp,  where the first mystery of the day was solved.   Why Comp ?   Well apparently it is from Norman French and denotes a field.   And then the penny - or centime - dropped when we made the connection between Comp and Champ, field in modern French of course.

The gardens  run to seven acres surrounding a beautiful 17th century manor.    They encompass sweeping lawns and winding woodland paths which encourage visitors explore the romantic ruins and luxuriant planting achieved by the Curator,  William Dyson who is also a leading Salvia expert,  having won many medals.    The nursery and greenhouse were available to us all to see the breeding collection of salvias.

Depending on the time of year that one visits,  one may see drifts of Hellebores and bulbs or, in Summer,  the Salvias, Dahlias and Kniphofias.  There is also an Italian garden to be enjoyed along with sculptures and a Greek temple.   And, of course,  visitors are able to purchase plants from a wide variety of stalls set up in the forecourt of the house.

Our day progressed well and remained dry if rather chilly,  which made the Old Dairy tearoom a welcome stopping-off point.  The cakes and sandwiches  had a really fresh feel about them,  while a 'cuppa' certainly hit the spot.

After another trip around the gardens it was time to leave for home, but not before Margaret came up with another pleasant surprise for us all.

  The coach stopped at Wateringbury,  where we were all made welcome in the delightful tearooms named   ' Where Memories Meet'.    And what a lovely hour we spent there,  being waited upon by charming staff and enjoying more good food and drinks;  perhaps it was just as well that Margaret had not had time to bake some of her delights for us ! The tearooms are on two levels with a well in the cellar.   The furniture is antique and all has a price ticket so that one might be refreshed at the same time as buying furniture for the home at prices which,  we were told,  are as tasty as the cakes.

And so back to the coach and Herne Bay.  Margaret and Martin had done it again.  They had organised a fine day out for us all for which we offer our sincere thanks.  

 Well done, and thank you,   M & M.