It is strange how a chain of thought can trigger events. Life in Suffolk these last few years has been punctuated by regular trips along the A14 to visit my partner's father in Staffordshire, and we have always meant to stop off one day and visit the Manor House at Hemingford Grey, the setting for Lucy Boston's Green Knowe children's stories and one of the most romantic place names I have ever come across, but time pressures have always intervened. I recently came across a reference to the Manor and the Green Knowe books when reading Elizabeth's blog post at Welsh Hills Again about the delights of her wood burning stove and comfort reading which struck a chord.
So it was that yesterday afternoon, a beautiful, cold, sunny early Spring day this particular wish was granted. Our trips cross-country have ended this week as the family gathered on Monday to say goodbye to John, who celebrated his 98th birthday only three short weeks ago. A local legend, he was still driving, swimming and taking regular walks until last September and will be much missed. The end of an era for his family. But after the tears and the laughter, the reunions and reminiscences and so very many cups of tea, we set out once more to our Suffolk home and, this time, we had time and I am so glad we did.
We parked the car in the pretty village street and walked a short distance along the banks of the River Ouse, opened the gate into the Manor garden and walked down the path between the clipped yew hedges towards this beautiful house, Green Knowe, the oldest continuously occupied house in England and every bit as enchanting as I had hoped. The house is only open by prior arrangement or for special events, but the garden was open and, having been greeted by the owner, we had it all to ourselves and spent a happy hour exploring, admiring the intense vivid blue carpet of chionodoxa intermingled with late snowdrops, winter aconites, primroses and hellebores. Lovely even at this time of the year, it will be stunning in the summer when the roses are out and we must visit again, many more times I hope. And what a wonderful place to come and remember John as now this place will always be associated with him in our hearts.
Rest in Peace.