Last weekend I was suddenly presented with the rare and delicious prospect of a free weekend! No work, no washing and no pesky visitors begging to be entertained….(!) What should I do with this shining haven of freedom? The whole of London awaited me! So naturally, I caught the train with a friend and headed out of the bustling city into the wilderness of Carshalton Beaches in search of the Pick your own Lavender Harvest.
It wasn’t quite the rolling lavender fields of France or the glorious weather of the Cote D’azure for that matter, but the field was the most delightful, homely and soothing haven to ever be hidden in the middle of a small allotment surrounded by suburban houses.
Entry to the event is completely free, you only pay for the Lavender you pick and even that is cheap. On the way to the Lavender, you pass by disgruntled old men standing in their runner bean patches, grumbling to one another about the “up from Londoners” who have – in their eyes – infested their once tranquil plots.
Once you arrive at the main site you are surrounded by a selection of dinky stalls, all selling lavender related goods -honey, cake, tea, soap, knitted elephants (granted some things were less related than others). It is amongst these stalls that you find a little tent providing buckets and scissors to all who wish to pick. After a quick visit to this tent – and a brief warning about bees along the lines of: “If they sting you then you probably deserved it you wuss” – you are set free, rented scissors in hand, to roam the field until you are either too hungry to carry on or your bunch of lavender is too big to drag behind you any further.
The tranquillity amongst the plants is totally blissful. Listening to the bees buzzing and the brief snippets of other pickers conversations as you lazily wander along, stopping every now and then to snip idly at flowers that take your fancy, it is so easy to lose yourself.
Once we had gathered as much Lavender as we could we headed, bouquets in hand, directly for the now closing stalls to gorge on Lavender infused ice tea and gooey Honey flapjacks. As delicious as this was it did not satisfy our outdoor appetites and so a quick stop at the village bakery was definitely called for.
The train ride home was one of the sweetest things to witness, everyone arrived and boarded the train clutching their little bunches of lavender.
This event only happens once a year but all proceeds go directly to the charity that keeps the Lavender project going. So if you are in London next Lavender season keep an eye out for this event – or others like it. It really is a wonderful, cosy way to spend an afternoon – even if it’s raining. You can find out more about the project here.