Saturday, 11 February 2012

Nan and the secret garden

I am reading 'The Secret Garden' by Frances Hodgson Burnett and love it so much I bore the family with detailed retellings of it - with a few tweaks: Mary Lennox becomes Renka Lennox and Colin isn't such a drip - he's more like Julian in the 'Famous Five' stories.

Nan indulges this (as she does everything) and offers to take me to a secret garden provided I don't tell my parents.  Nan, clutching the inevitable picnic in a string bag and I, clutching my key text, walk up the hill for about a mile along a road lined with towering, dark green conifers planted behind a tall wooded fence.  Nan pushes me through a hole in the fence; inside there is the most enormous garden, smooth lawns, trees and shrubberies.  To be honest I feel a little short-changed as it is much too big and park-like to be the secret garden.  But Nan seems to be having fun so I don't complain.  We head to the far side of the garden, behind what she says is the gardeners' hut (this is more like it!); behind the hut is a deep ditch full of bunches of flowers and floral arrangements.  I am sent into the ditch to see if I can find any decent flowers to take home while Nan sits on the grass shouting directions and partaking of a restorative banana sandwich.  I, exhausted, climb up and down (like a small non-bearded Chris Bonnington, but with Start-rites rather than crampons).  I manage to pull together a collection of browning lilies and chrysanthemums.  I also find some sweet little cards and put a few in my pocket for inspection later. 

Later when Mum turns out my pockets for the wash she gives a little cry and asks where the  cards came from - I had forgotten all about them.  They had writing on them which was hard to read as it was joined-up, something I had yet to aspire to.  They said things like 'Darling Bertha, always in our hearts, your loving cousins Cyril and Lucy'   or 'Henry, gone to a far better place, from all your Friends at Pressed Steel'.
I forget my promise and tell Mum about the secret garden.
I suspect my parents may have complained about this outing as I was never taken to Oxford Crematorium for a picnic again.

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