It’s 5.30 am and I’m heading down to the garden. This is my favourite time of the day – just me and the dawn chorus. No people; no extraneous noise. Peace and tranquility.
The gardens are beautiful. Not regimented like the gardens of large buildings usually are, but rambling and cottage-like, and are obviously very well tended. There are little grottos made of stone dotted about, and some delightful statuary, and not all of it religious in nature either. There is a beautiful bronze mermaid laying languorously on a large rock, with her fingertips in the fishpond. The fishpond is only small, and is home to a few goldfish and a frog or two. It is surrounded by a variety of ferns.
Through a very ornate iron gate is the abbey’s walled kitchen garden. Every variety of vegetable and herb is here, and all grown on sustainable, permaculture principles. Every inch is used. There are compost bins in one corner and I can hear the steady buzz of a beehive somewhere. Espalier fruit trees – apples, pears and stone fruits – stretch their limbs across the faces of the walls. This all accounts for the delicious flavour and quality of the meals served to us.
I’ve wandered around, sniffing the flowers and herbs and I’ve made myself a small posey to put in a glass in my room.
I can hear movement now, so I will go and wash and make my way to the refectory for breakfast. I have no idea what the day will hold; I’m not sure if activities are organised or if you can wander at will, but I can ask someone.
Ah, there’s Woody and Sal, coming down the stairs. ‘Morning, you two. I’ll join you in the refectory in a few minutes. I just have to have a wash.’
‘Did your bed soften up after you got in it?’ said Woody.
‘Yes, I had a wonderful night’s sleep.’
‘Well, we’ve discovered another bit of magic. We were having a wash in that ice-cold bathroom, and I said ‘I wish this were warm water’, and, just like that, it was!’
‘Oooh, thanks for telling me. I’ll be down in about five minutes.’ And I headed towards the bathroom. I think I might risk a bath after breakfast if I can have warm water.