If it’s good enough for Enid Blyton!
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Enid Blyton lived and wrote in this picturesque Old Thatch cottage in Bourne End (South Bucks) from the late 1920s, and took inspiration from her beautiful gardens. These days the cottage is still privately owned but for a small fee, the garden is open to visitors during the summer. This is the last week to see the grounds before it closes on 29 August…
What’s the big deal? Well, there are no great sweeping expanse of lawn: rather ‘rooms’ of gardens, nooks and crannies and surprises, a kind of visual story that unfolds area by area – my 3 and 5 year olds just loved them.
The lady who now owns the house obviously enjoys a steady stream of visitors – on the day I visited there was a real mix there, from older people to local mums with buggies.
But before you descend with your kids, I should also say that she seemed very anxious about allowing children to go around the garden. There’s a message on the website warning that children who need to ‘let off steam’ shouldn’t use the gardens as a park, and she checked several times that mine were well-behaved.
How had she heard? News had obviously reached her about how Iris likes to body-surf over the aliums, and Cassius’s penchant for elbowing old ladies off the path. It was slightly galling, but but then I guess it is her house, and her garden is a massive passion and project, and perhaps she’s had problems with badly behaved kids in the past. Look, not all bratlets are as goddam perfect as mine!
As it was, the garden was relatively quiet and the kids ran about bothering no-one. I took loads of pics, which reflects just how much we enjoyed it and how striking the gardens are, even for a horticultural ignoramus like me.
It’s definitely the sort of place to take parents/family friends/gardening enthusiasts, and you can quite happily spend an hour or two wandering around. There’s also a lovely tearoom with picturesque outdoor seating (above) serving fresh cakes.
Bizarrely, Old Thatch Gardens are virtually next door to The Spade Oak gastropub, recommended by Michelin chef Adam Simmonds (see My Favourite Places in the recommended posts here), so if you head to the pub for 12.30, you’ll be in perfect time for a walk around the gardens to burn off your meal.
Even Enid Blyton couldn’t dream up a more perfect scenario than that!