About Me

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Hi! I'm Eunice and I live in Bolton, Lancashire, with my two dogs Sophie and Sugar and an assortment of cats - well it used to be Sophie and Sugar, now it's Sophie and Poppie. I first began camping back in 1997 when my then partner took me to Anglesey for my birthday weekend. We slept in the back of the car - a hatchback - using the cushions off the settee at home as a mattress, and cooked and brewed up on a single burner camping stove. The site was good, the views were great, the weather fantastic and I was completely hooked. Following that weekend we got a two-man tent and some proper accessories and returned to Anglesey two weeks later, then over time we progressed to a three-man tent followed by an old trailer tent, then a new trailer tent, a campervan and finally a caravan. When my partner decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the street - literally - in April 2009 and I suddenly found myself alone after fifteen years, I decided there was no way I was going to give up camping and caravanning if I could cope on my own. This blog is the story of my travels, trials and tribulations since becoming a solo camper - I hope you like it

Wenesday September 14th - Part 2 - East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens

The second place to visit that day was East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens; I'd been told about them by a gardener I'd got chatting to at Blickling Hall when I visited there last year but I didn't get the opportunity to go then. I'd mentioned it to Jean the previous evening and she said she'd been to the gardens a couple of times and though they weren't very big they were certainly worth a look.

A short private driveway off a narrow lane took me to a tree-shaded car park and the garden entrance; unfortunately dogs weren't allowed in but the lady in the kiosk said that my ticket allowed me to come and go as much as I wanted so at least I'd be able to check on them after a while. The entrance fee was £8.50, which I thought was a bit steep for a small garden, so I was totally unprepared for what I found when I got in there and started looking round - the place was far larger than I expected, in fact it was huge.

By using box hedging, trees, borders, lawns and well laid out paths the whole area was divided into 'rooms' of different sizes, with each 'room' having a different theme - there was the Dutch Garden, Exotic Garden, Rose Garden, Mediterranean Garden and Desert Garden to name just a few. There was colour everywhere, and each time I went round a corner or through a gap in the hedge I got the surprise of seeing something completely different. Modern sculptures were dotted about here and there and in the exotic garden was an above-ground pond with a brilliant water feature made from lengths of copper pipe intricately woven and twisted together.

In one section of garden a sprinkler was spraying water over flower beds on each side of the grassy path; it had quite a long range and was turning a full 360 degrees so I had to time my photo taking so I wouldn't suddenly get hit by the jet of water. Actually getting past the thing meant waiting until its back was turned then sprinting along the path before it swung round and got me. I did it - just - and felt like I should have been given a t-shirt with 'I beat the sprinkler' written across the front of it.

Not far from where the sprinkler was doing its best to drown people I came across a couple of small enclosures with several chickens and ducks scratching about, and just round the corner from there was a small paddock with a couple of alpacas quietly grazing along the grass. Those were a complete surprise as I didn't think the gardens were the type of place to mix animals in with the flowers and plants. Eventually, after much wandering, I came to the house and its terrace full of pots and urns then finally the tea room, where I stopped for coffee and cake before returning to the van.

As I drove away from the gardens a while later I had the distinct feeling that I must have missed something, but other than going out to check on the dogs I'd been wandering round for over two hours so I thought I'd seen all the different areas. An internet check since I got home however confirmed that I had indeed missed a few things - maybe I should have bought a map from the kiosk but I didn't think about it at the time. I was very impressed with what I had seen though and I revised my opinion of the entrance fee; I have no interest at all in actual gardening but the photo opportunities alone made it well worth every penny and I'll certainly be making a return visit next year.


  1. What a fascinating place. I suppose the entrance fee reflects what must be an enormous cost to maintain the gardens in such splendid form.

    I loved those elephants on the plinths, and as you say surprising to see live animals in those settings. Lovely place.

  2. I liked the elephants too. The place is amazing, with a surprise round every corner, and you don't have to be into gardening to appreciate the colour and variety of the plants and trees and the way everything is set out into different 'rooms'.

    As I walked round I did notice a couple of areas which looked really untidy and I felt they let the place down but then I realised they were new areas which were being designed and developed - if I go back next year I'll probably find there's even more to explore. I don't know how long it is since Jean went there but the place has obviously expanded since she last looked round. They do plant sales as well and you can buy all sorts of unusual things from there, I didn't go in that part but Jean had said their prices are quite reasonable.

    I loved that water feature, if I had the money to buy one and the garden to put it in I'd definitely have one :)

  3. What wonderful memories you have made through your tent and caravan.
    I know I have when my late husband was alive very often we'd take off to places. Most enjoyable Tigermouse.

  4. I love being able to take off to different places, especially to those I haven't been to before as I don't know what I'm going to find. That garden is really delightful and I'll certainly go again.


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