Sometimes you go to things eagerly, and they are disappointing. A good example of that would be when a few years ago we went to see Jason Byrne, alleged to be a comedian and also one that according to a review was a mix of Spike Milligan and the Duracell Bunny. What the piece failed to point out was that this meant he had as little surreal humour as the Duracell bunny and was as funny as one of Spike Milligan’s most depressive episodes. It was an experience that my friends similarly depressed, and me more so since I had persuaded them to come along.

Contrariwise – is that a real word or a made up one that I have in my head courtesy of Lewis Caroll? –  there are things you don’t want to go to and which end up great. A watery example of the latter happen to me on Thursday morning. I was laid in bed at 6 a.m. really not wanting to get up and go tothe RHS Hampton Court Flower Show.

Two things in my mind made this a bad idea. One, it was 6 a.m. Two, I was fairly sure it was going to rain heavily at some point. There was a third that crept in as I dropped my head onto the pillow -I could spend the day at home on my own – after a pretty stiff week at work that’d be just the ticket. But, no, that wouldn’t do. I said I’d go. So I set off with the firm expectation that the day would be a bit grim, but consoling myself with the thought that I had my Gardens Illustrated umbrella, with it’s magical shamanistic power that meant whenever, and wherever I carried it, it never rained.

Things started to go a bit wonky from early on. I was on the second of the three trains I needed to catch when I realised I forgotten my lunch. I was more pissed off that I wouldn’t be eating the especially nice bread rolls I’d bought and filled the night before, than that I’d have to spend a ridiculous amount for not brilliant food at the food.

Getting to the show went smoothly enough and Tim the contractor’s foreman was pleased to see me as the designer was not on site and he “knew nothing about plants”.

Grabbing a coffee, I was a bit miffed at paying four quid for a pretty crappy bacon roll, but more so when it started to rain and then for no reason my camera died on me.

Not only did my talismanic umbrella fail to ward off the rain, it failed to keep it off of me as it quickly got soaked and started leaking.

The sun came out and dried us off a bit, only for it to really start hammering down.

By the time it finished I was soaked to the skin right down my back thanks to my un-umbrella. It was by now lunchtime and although starving I wasn’t looking forward to what was on offer – and the cost of it – something not helped by a call from my OH to say my sandwich rolls were delicious.

Despite all this I had enjoyed the morning talking to people about the garden and plants, and it was helped further by having some good banter with Tim from the contractors, a genuinely lovely bloke and fine company.

By now the designer was on site and let us into the secret of the RHS Exhibitors’ food area. Nicer, cheaper food than I would have otherwise afforded, with plenty of space to sit down – although I have to say that the coriander on the new potatoes was a mistake – did they have a rookie in the kitchen who got it mixed up with parsley?

After lunch Tim and I took a wander around the show gardens, which I found a bit mixed, and I had a chat with someone I vaguely know who had done one of the Concept Gardens which was a surprise for us both.

I then put in a bit more time back manning the plot and realised that I really love this – talking to people about the design and the plants, offering suggestions and bits of advice when asked for it, and learning things from them.

By mid-afternoon the sun had come out and although it did little to dry the site out except make the mud stickier, it was hot enough to burn my skin.

So I returned home tired, sunburnt and slightly muddy, but having had a pretty good day, despite my expectations to the contrary.

It had even been funnier than Jason Byrne.

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