Do Not Feed the Flowers (Alnwick, England)

I've returned home to Newcastle for the week to see my mam and have a little chillax time to myself.

She had the day off work and she has been dying to go to Alnwick Gardens for a long time. This morning, on a whim, we decided to go! We had to get a metro across Newcastle, and then endure a 2 hours bus ride. I detest getting the bus in Newcastle. 9 times out of 10 it is full of complete lunatics or somebody with offensive BO. Sometimes it can be pretty dangerous. The same can be said for public transport in any big city I guess.

Alnwick is a village quite far outside of Newcastle - pretty close to the Scottish border actually - but can be reached by an hourly bus. The Alnwick Garden is well-known in the North-East. For a long time it was in tatters as it was abandoned after WW2, during which it was used as a 'Dig for Victory' vegetable plantation. During the past 10 years, it has undergone a sensational refurb' and is now looking mighty handsome, though it is still expanding even more!

We bought our tickets, about £15 each - my treat to my mam. We were also presented with a charming Winnie-the-Pooh-esque map to guide you around the garden complex.

As soon as you walk in, you find yourself before a gigantic, cascading fountain with a synchrony of water jets that intertwine and dance around each other. A marvellous start!

We went to check out the 'Serpent Garden' marked out on our little treasure map. Sadly it wasn't as badass as we anticipated, but it was still pretty pleasant. There was absolutely no reference to snakes at all, but there were cool, swanky water features.

We got bored of that VERY quickly... however, we noticed what looked like little tunnels made out of trees. We were right; they were tunnels made out of trees that had been grown into shape! It was pretty damn awesome - there were even 'windows'! We had a little wander through these leafy hallways to get to the 'ornamental garden'.

We reached the ornamental garden, which was crammed full of fountains both big and small, grand and graceful...

We were told not to pick the flowers. Yeh. Like I was going to do that...

In all seriousness, the garden was very beautiful. It was crammed with every colour on the spectrum and in almost every petal arrangement you can imagine. Big, feathery yellow flowers and thin, terracotta flowers with fewer petals than I have fingers on a single hand.

Wild flowers lived everywhere. Bluebells draped the grassy lawns making the whole place look like an elegant Laura Ashley print.

We sat down for a break by one of the more cute fountains. A different flowery fragrance was sent our way on the back of every breeze. The place smelled and looked outstanding.

After watching and smelling the ballet, we went to check out 'The Labyrinth'. Predictably, we knew it would be a hedge maze or something. We weren't wrong, but we didn't get the top answer! It was a maze, but it was made entirely out of growing bamboo! Not only were the walls high, but the bamboo blocked your view to the sky, so only a crack of light could get through. It was incredibly scary! A young child wouldn't have been psychologically robust to cope with this setup, but it was pretty fun! 

There were secret 'easter eggs' hidden throughout the maze to find. I only found a few, in the form of motivational philosophies etched into rock, and grotesque little statues.

I quickly got lost in the bamboo maze. I used that trick where you keep an arm on the right-side wall and follow it until you reach the exit. It did get me to the exit successfully, but my mam had already went back in to find me! So I went back in to find her, then she had came back out. We played this annoying little game for about 15 minutes...

After she had me air-lifted out of there, we stopped by the gift shop and the café. I nabbed a tasty-looking jar of chutney. I don't normally buy things in gift shops. Usually gift shops are farrrr too overpriced and they tend to sell the same crap you find in low-end card shops. However, I have a thing for chutney lately and it wasn't priced too highly despite being a good-quality local product! A win, I say.

We plonked ourselves down on a suave art-deco couch next to a chunky table with our cappucinos. I just had to plate up a doorstop-sized wedge of chocolate fudge cake. That thick glacier of chocolate fudge icing was too hard to decline.

They had a piano too, so I had to play my rendition of 'Hot Cross Buns'. It goes like this...

'Hot Cross Hot...Hot Cross.........Cross.........Hot Buns......Buns.....Buns.......(fuck it, I give up)'

As you can see, I'm oozing talent...


As you can perhaps guess, I haven't the littlest ounce of musical flair. Same goes for my mam too.

After acting like complete douchebags, we went to check out the 'Treehouse'. After a shaky walk across a wooden rope bridge, we were on a very rustic, wooded decking. It was very like the treehouse from George and the Jungle! Just with infrared heat lamps and a handful of fluorescing fire exits.

We sat by the burning fire and reflected on our bloom-filled day.

We then left to check out one last place on our map, 'The Poison Garden'. I'd heard of this before I came. In fact, if you Google 'Alnwick Garden', there are an abundance of pictures from this little garden. The Poison Garden is kept under lock and key, and is viewable by guided tour only (to stop you doing something that I would do, such as eat them). We were in time for the very last tour of the day! Horrah!

Not the most settling place to take a seat...

The gardens were given a government license to grow cannabis on the site. It is kept inside a groovy bell-shaped cage to be appreciated by visitors...and not through the lungs. Nobody is passing the doobie in Alnwick it would seem.

It was a wonderful day! I'm relieved to hear that the gardens are still expanding and are adding more features and 'zones'. If you can get to it, it is a wonderful day out for pretty much all ages. Kids seemed to enjoy it as much as the elderly tour groups did. Alnwick is quite remote, but it is just off the A1 from Newcastle to Edinburgh. If you find yourself driving this route often, then it is definitely worth a pit-stop at Alnwick Gardens!

Anthony :)



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