Muzu TV have produced an extraordinarily good video of the Heroes of She performing Bohemian Like You and Out of My Way, the performance which got them through to the final of the “Live and Unsigned” competition at the 02 Arena on July 10th. In fact Muzu TV think so highly of the Heroes’ performance that they’ve given the video pride of place on their blog.
One of the best things about having a show garden at Chelsea is that you can invite family and friends to visit the show in the evening and to share a glass of champagne when the crowds have gone. Tonight our visitors included the Isaac-Welcome family and it was just great to catch up with them in person for the first time since ‘How the Other Half Live’ was screened. We all agreed that the response of the general public had been unexpectedly warm and generous.
My posting of March 2nd, 2010 told the story of how armed policemen surrounded the Riverside Hotel and arrested a gunman, after disabling him with a Tazer. We have since been told that after being challenged the gunman reached for his gun and might have been shot dead by the waiting marksmen if he hadn’t fumbled, giving the police enough time to deploy the Tazer.
Monday is press day, which means cameras and lots of them non-stop all day. Philippa and I began with interviews for the BBC, then our local ITV stations followed by TV companies from all over, including Iran and Slovenia. Monday is also the day for celebrity spotting; for me the star of the day was undoubtedly our local reporter Katie Robinson from the North West Evening Mail who came armed with a video camera and was ruthless in pinning down every celeb who came by.
Gala Night at the Chelsea Flower Show is said to be the first day of the ‘season’. Only the glitterati can afford the tickets which sell for £328. We get our tickets for free but whether we will be in any fit state to enjoy them is another matter. Nothing could be less glamorous than the final rush to get the garden ready. A dust cart has been parked opposite our garden all day churning rubbish noisily at 10 minute intervals. One of the adjacent gardens has a crisis with its pond and has to get help from ‘Caroline’s Effluent Services’ and Caroline’s large pink tanker pumps out the offending pond water very noisily and very smellilly. This video shows Philippa trying to do some planting against this backdrop of mayhem.
“My God, you must be mad”, was the common response when I told people that I was taking part in the reality TV show for Channel 4. “They’ll stitch you up, they always do”. The truth is, we didn’t know how it would turn out, until we saw it tonight. But we were pretty sure that we could trust the producer, Daniel Fromm and his delightful assistant, with the wonderful name, Meghan Just-Truelove (Meghan Just fell in love with Marcus Truelove).
The girls from the Riverside, pictured here, created a sensation at the Cumbria Tourism awards where they were one of three finalists for “Hotel of the Year”. Stuart Maconie, the host, couldn’t keep his eyes off them and there’s no doubt he would have awarded them the first prize if it had been his choice, if only, as he put it, because they had “scrubbed up nicely”. I was very proud to see them there- they have worked very hard to transform the Riverside into one of the best in the county. In the end, the accollade went to the four star Armathwaite Hall- the place where Gordon Brown stayed last summer-and I suppose they deserve some consolation for that.
The build-up at the Chelsea Flower Show is so surreal that it hardly came as a surprise to be asked “Are you a homeless person?”. In fact I felt quite proud, almost human for an instant. The solicitous enquiry came from the organisor of the Eden Project garden, shown in this video here. He had seen me going about with my cloth cap (on my head, I should add, not being proferred for small change) and Flip Video and he mistook me for one of the homeless because his garden is being built by homeless people and they have been provided with Flip videos to record the event. In fact, so he told me, the Eden project garden has also been designed by the homeless. A very brave experiment. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
Things are different now. Change is in the air. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion; in fact I was mentally prepared for defeat. True, The Heroes of She had put on an amazing performance, probably their best ever. True, their army of supporters, seated just below the judges, were particularly rampant in their enthusiam. True, the rest of the packed crowd loved them as well.
15 show gardens are being built cheek by jowl and the noise is overwhelming. Each garden has a digger, a cement mixer, a dumper truck ; there is a constant stream of lorries making deliveries and of cranes lifting plants and materials into the gardens. In fact it’s a dangerous business taking photographs- I was very nearly mown down by a lorry carrying portable loos. Being mown down by a portable toilet is not the ideal way to meet on’es end- there wouldn’t be a straight face at the funeral.
When Maggy needs more pebbles for the mosaic which she is building for our Chelsea garden she doesn’t just pick up the phone and order them from her supplier. She goes in person to the beach in Anglesea where she has a licence to collect them. She has just returned from two back-breaking days of hard labour individually picking out some more white limestone pebbles, of just the right shape, size and colour.
There's an article in this month’s Cumbria Life telling the story in my own words of the ups and downs, ins and outs of getting a Show Garden to Chelsea. We’ve just heard that the main show gardens for next year’s show are almost all booked up- even before the applications have gone out- which adds a little more perspective to what I have to say in Cumbria Life.
The idea of Slow Life is to take the principles of Slow Food, which are “good, clean and fair”, and extend them to life in general.
Here in the Lake District, the air is clean, the pace is slow and the atmosphere is calm. If we don’t grow food ourselves, we can buy it in friendly small shops, where you know the quality is going to be the best.
This blog is a celebration of the Slow Life, with forays into the world of design, music, the arts, gardens, and my particular weakness, Japan.