Thursday, May 20, 2010

Malvern, The Lighthouse of Laughter

When I told my friends I was going to the UK to meet up with people I had never clapped eyes on before they were a bit bewildered and concerned as well. Even more so when they found out that I would spent the first night at Michelle's house whom I had also never ever met before. But what if she's a crazy person, my friends objected. Michelle? I said, hardly! But you don't know her. Well, I've never met her in person but you do get a feel of who someone is when you read their blog. So you're going to the UK to meet loads of people whom you've never met and also share accommodation with 5 other women whom you wouldn't know from a bar of soap either? I am and it will be alright, don't worry.
So I went and I met and spend lots of time with all those bloggers and survived the "ordeal".  Frankly, people worry too much sometimes and it's fear that's stopping them from doing things they love. It was lovely meeting Michelle and later on when I met the others at Malvern, at the pub, at Helen's, at Ask it was all fine. More than fine it was great fun and I had a truly brilliant time. In case it has somehow escaped your notice; gardeners are good people to hang around with.
After it became clear that there would be more bloggers coming than Michelle and Helen initially thought; Michelle: Helen and I thought maybe 8 to 10 people would come, but it turned out to be much more than that. Much, much more.  And then there was the added shock that not only I would come, but other bloggers from abroad as well. Gail and Frances would be there all the way from Tennessee and then Ewa from Poland would come too. Where to put them all as they would not be there for just 1 day?
Fortunately Victoria knew just a place. So the Lighthouse was booked and in dribs and drabs we all arrived there. I had met Helen at Malvern earlier that day (Thurday 6 May) but not the others.  I met Frances, Gail and Ewa for the first time at the Lighthouse after they had been kindly collected from the train station by Helen. We all arrived at the same time and the first thing Gail said when we met while she pointed at me: Michelle? Erm no, that's Michelle, I'm Yolanda. Gail: It's the jetlag! That was the very first time that excuse was trotted out but not the last, not by a long chalk.
We went inside the house and decided who should sleep where. Helen had gone home (she lives quite close to Malvern) so there was only 5 of us as Victoria would arrive on Friday. At least I thought we were 5 until I heard Don say, when he clapped eyes on the bedroom that he would have for the next few days: this bedroom has a wash basin! Don was ever so slightly underwhelmed as most of the bedrooms came with their own bathroom  and his had only a wash basin.
Fortunately there was this gorgeous bathroom close by that Don, Frances's alter ego, could use. I got to know Don quite well during my stay at the Lighthouse and he's a guy after me own heart.
After we had all settled in we went shopping and then went to the pub for a meal and meet loads of fellow garden bloggers. We were 13 in all not counting Don, a lucky 13, and we had a fab evening with lots of laughter, good food and even better company.
 Deb Bird's lovely show garden: The Nature of Nurture

The next day (Friday) we all went to the Malvern Flower Show, it was the second show day for Helen, Michelle and I but the first for Ewa, Frances and Gail. It was a bit nippy though and Frances and Gail had to buy warm clothes at the show to prevent pneumonia. But regardless of the weather, we all had a great time at the show. There was so much to see and so much to do. Late in the afternoon Victoria arrived too. That evening we went to a party at Helen's. Helen: I thought maybe 8 people would come but it's much more than that, but am I bothered?
Ooh look, there's Yolanda and she wearing leather pants!

A fab time was had by all, we had a bit of a natter, then there was cake, utterly yummy cake baked by Helen's own fair hands, there was big lashes of laughter, an enormous mountain of food and a spot of group photo taking.
Well, an attempt at it but we decided it wasn't good enough as the people in the back were merely lurking in the dark. So we tried again, with more success this time and here we all are:
From left to right starting at he back: Lia, Zoe, Karen, Gail, Elizabeth, Denise and Michelle.
On the couch: Claire, Yolanda, Helen, Ewa and the other Michelle. In front: Frances, Sally and Victoria. But there were 2 more people there; Jane (Dobbie) and the Digger, alas no pic of them.
 After Helen's party we went back to the Lighthouse where we had another natter, a cuppa tea/coffee before we finally caught some Z's. Women!
 How was it to share a house for a few days with people whom you've never met before? Well, great fun of course. We all got on swimmingly and it felt as if we'd known each other for yonks.
Ewa on the Aga: it is a beautiful cooker but it takes a loooooooooooong time to boil eggs.
There was talking, laughter, lashings of tea/coffee, laughter, breakfasts, and did I mention laughter? There was even some light entertainment provided by Victoria.
 Victoria: I love waking up in a house filled with laughter.

What I haven't told you yet is that the bloggers at Malvern were sponsered by the Biscuit blog chaps, which was very kind indeed. Here are some of the biscuits that were so thoughtfully provided by them but some of it also by yours truly.
 Of course we had to have a biscuit tasting session and we did on Saturday afternoon after Gail, Frances, Ewa and I had returned from a lovely day out with our trusty guide Helen (more about that another time), and Michelle and Victoria returned from a fun but cold and wet day at the Malvern show. They had brought a few people from the show for a visit: Dawn, Rob and Liam. We all felt the more, the merrier! And it was. Very merry!

You can read all about the biscuit tasting here. Suffice it to say that due to all the biscuit munching, spraying of crumbs due to excessive laughter in the very bestest of companies, we all had a great time.
That evening we went to dine at Ask, a restaurant where they serve Italian food. Do I really need to tell you that we had a fab time?

But then Sunday came, time to say goodbye as Ewa was going back to Birmingham by train, Victoria, Gail and Frances toddled off to London by car and I had a plane to catch back to Dutchland.
The Malvern 6: f.l.t.r.: standing: Yolanda, Frances and Ewa, sitting: Michelle, Victoria and Gail.

We could happily have spent at least another week at the Lighthouse  and we were all a bit sad about our imminent departures but unfortunately there is never  any Volcanic ash around when you need it.

The weather may not have been the best but to quote a world famous Dutch blogger:  it may be cold and wet outside but inside we have nothing but sunshine.

A big heartfelt thank you to Helen (left) and Michelle who made it all possible. My dears, organising a bloggers do at Malvern was one of the very best ideas you both ever had. XXX

copyright 2010 Y.E.W. Heuzen


Sheila said...

Thank you for sharing all your pictures of the fun! It is always wonderful to "see" all our friends that we have never met!

Gail said...

Yolanda, Now I am missing you all even more! I had such a good time that I am now beginning to dis-remember coach flying and dream about a return visit...this time including your garden. I so totally agree with you~gardeners are good people to hang around with~hugs to you, a pat to Tara and please a nod to the kitties who don't know me and might think I am being a tad too forward to touch them. gailxxoo Love the photos and your narrative!

VP said...

This is just lovely - I've come over all 'tired and emotional' ;)


Ewa said...

Yolanda what a lovely post is this! Your narration is paaaafect! I will repeat myself thousands of times how happy I am that I went to Malvern to meet you, Frances, Gail, Helen, Michelle, Victoria, Rob and many people I haven't heard of before. Friends ask me 'How was it?' and I keep talking and can't stop :) I know it might be not easy to imagine, as I am not very talkative :)
... when I turned back home, I opened computer and said loud 'blogging will never be same again' and it is not. I still hear voices :) especially when I read blogs and I know the face and voice behind. Unique experience. Love it!

Anonymous said...

Well said, YE, and Don says thank you for the mention and acknowledges a kindred spirit when he meets one. :-) Again thanks so much to Michelle and Helen who made this trip so memorable and full of laughter. Also to Victoria who took Gail and me under her wing for a few more fun filled days. We could have spent another week there and touring gardens very easily. Now we dream of the next time....
no longer a bar of unidentified soap!

Crystal said...

Looks like you all had a very lovely time, and it's always nice when gardeners connect with each other! I wish there were more garden clubs in my area, so that I could meet other locals who garden, but nowadays the best garden communities tend to be online in the blogosphere.

Rose said...

I've enjoyed reading all the posts about the meeting at Malvern--what a marvelous time you all must have had! I agree--gardeners are wonderful people. And I've found that when I meet a blogger in person that they usually are just the way I imagined them, because personalities do come through in their writing.

I'm a little bit curious, though, about this "Don" who stayed with you:)

patientgardener said...

Great post. I will never hear 'Am I bothered' again without remembering our day out in the rain.

Loved meeting everyone and happy to host another party next year

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This all sounds like too much fun and it looks like you had the best of everything.

Jan (Thanks For Today) said...

So nice that all of you were able to get together and have such a wonderful visit! I've met just one blogger in person and that was fantastic...can only imagine how exciting it must be to have met so many all at once!!

Entangled said...

I'm getting such a warm glow reading all the accounts of your meet-up! Sounds like fabulous fun.

garden girl said...

Sounds so wonderful Yolanda! What a nice group of people to hang out, visit gardens, and eat, drink, and be merry with.

Carol said...

I so enjoyed reading this Yolanda! I would have loved to have been there too. Great that you are all sharing your experiences with us. Lovely how you have shared the inside of the Lighthouse! It looks very cozy and comfy.

chigiy at Gardeners Anonymous said...

Great post.It looked like so much fun. I wanna go next time. It does not surprise me that you wear leather pants.

Matron said...

What a great time! Sorry I missed you there. I have had a great time meeting garden bloggers from time to time! ;-).

healingmagichands said...

It is funny how people get so freaked out when you say you are going off to visit people you only know through the internet.

It looks like you had a wonderful time and I wish I had been there. Malvern looked beautiful too, who would have thought to make a greenhouse out of plastic bottles.

Helen at summerhouse said...

This post was a lot of fun, and a chance to enjoy the visit with you. As for your friends worrying about you going to stay with strangers, well, they were all gardeners you were staying with, after all. And how wonderful that you could all meet and have such a good time at last.

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

It truly sounds like a lovely time was had by all. I wish you could come to Buffalo to the Buffa10 meetup. I really do. Oh, I meant to tell your that our garage kitty, Crazy Daisy, had kittens. They are oh so amusing, but she's still a fiend.~~Dee

em said...

yolanda, certainly looks like fun! wish i could have been there!

Annie in Austin said...

Oh, what a fun time it must have been, Yolanda - no matter the weather. The Lighthouse looks like a very dramatic place to hang out together!

We Austin garden bloggers first started meeting in person in 2006, but it did seem odd at first to us, too.

Now let's see if I have the degree thing right... I've met Frances and Gail and you know Frances and Gail... does that make us only 2 degrees of separation apart?
Once I get my transporter operational it can be 1 degree ;-]

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post! It must have been so enjoyable meeting fellow gardening bloggers who have become such good friends. Flighty xx

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Yay, glad you had so much fun. And I love me some Digestive biccies! It's gunny, my Chicago spring fling experience was similar--my local friends were like--you're going where to do what with people you've never met? And you're staying with Linda? It was all fine and good and I'm glad I went. Sometimes ya gotta. :)

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

So glad you all had such a fantastic time--wish I could have been there too, but was in spirit. Maybe next time.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

This is the first I've heard of the biscuits. I'm glad you had a wonderful time. (I knew you would, with Gail & Frances around, it's always fun.)

Anonymous said...

I love hot babes in black leather pants! Stay beautiful Yolanda!