'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menostery; whatsdacrowd???

On Tuesday, you saw a sprinkling of pretty pickchewers from my visit last Friday to Benmore Botanic Gardens.

Let me tell you, before going, I did do a little research as to accessibility, possible tours, size and so forth. The mind and spirit might still be free but the body is a bit anchored these days and requires certain provision. That said, I have a life long habit of ignoring the body. I had noted that there was some 150 acres of the place and that there were some significant climbs (that's when I came across the vid I placed here last Sunday), so located the map and decided ahead of time to keep to about the first quarter of area.

I am a keen 'botanics' visitor.  Loooong back, (last century!), before heading to the Nether Regions of the planet, I was a 'friend' of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, visiting there at all times of the year... In Sydney, there are some incredible gardens, of course, and again I was a frequent visitor.

Having been in Dunoon for well over a year now, I was overdue for this visit. The thing is, the father and the Macs were on holiday over this way and I had suggested we might meet up there for a 'gathering' - however they said they'd rather come to the flat on their way back to Edinburgh on the Saturday. Which was perfectly fine with me... and therefore I began to plan for that and thought perhaps I would hold off yet again on the outing. However, as mentioned, the sun came on strong and round here, if you miss that chance, it can be an awffffly long time before it turns up again! The pull was strong, so away I went.

My, but it actually felt like summer. Found a place for the Little Ren under the shade of tree at the car park and headed on in. The entry is very reasonable at six pounds and there was lots of information provided. There is a 'buggy' tour available, but only at limited times, so need to be more organised for that. Noted.

Once through the into the gardens, despite having a map and a vague notion of going up to the rhododendron hillside (I adore them), there were so many to see even on the level ground that I ended up just following my feet and, of course, stopping every few yards for Fudge to do it's work. If I tell you that the place is outstanding, I am still doing it disservice. Once I got to the pond, it was like a fairy dell. The sense of tranquillity and peace was palpable.

The feet kept taking me along and I had no idea to where, but cared little. I was breathing deeply and could feel a smile lodged on the phizog. Despite there being plenty of seating and the body making hints, I did not avail myself of them. There is a lot of area to cover and if I sat I may never get going again.  Past the big house, I became aware that there appeared to be larger numbers of people. Then the men in suits passed me.

SUITS?!  then vehicles carrying a number of others quite smartly dressed.  I kept going along behind them. Mainly because there was no other road to follow. Could be a wedding, I thought.

At the end of that stretch, before having to turn round, a crowd could be seen. No sign of any frills and froth or bouquets and hats and stuff, so I kept going, anticipating that I would not be gate-crashing... As I came to the corner and went to turn round it... gate crash!!!  Seriously.  There were some incredible, golden gates!!! I caught the eye of a trio of folk (the term 'genteel' came to mind) and burst out "something happening?"

"Oh yes, this is the official opening of the refurbished gates of what was the original main entrance to the property."

It was a party and this was as good a case of gate-crashing as one could experience! The delightful people had no hesitation in inviting me to stay and hear the speeches and observe the unlocking. The elderly couple of the trio I spoke with had their dog with them. Yes dogs are permitted, but must remain leashed at all times.

Meet Vashti.  Yes! A Sanskrit name meaning 'desirous/eager'...

The opening speech was by the Regius Keeper, from Edinburgh (all four Botanics in Scotland are under his gaze), and followed the expected 'acknowledgements and congrats' mode. The blacksmith who had renewed the iron was present. Unfortunately the jeweller who had pasted on the thousands of gold leaf squares was not, due to being delayed from road issues via Crianlarich (he was coming from Perth). Yes. Gold Leaf. Genuine Golden Gates.

Next, the official opening speech by 'Sir Peter'.  Clearly, everyone present bar this gatecrasher knew who this bloke was. He gave a short but very interesting speech from which I quickly gleaned that he knew the original owner of Benmore... (more on that next week, for it is interesting local history. Well I think so anyway.)

Thing of all this is that, had I delayed, had I not got going and just followed my feet, indeed, had I rushed out in the morning instead, this would all have been missed!!! It was an occasion of some import, locally, but only 'friends and companions' of the gardens were present. Plus one gatecrasher. Pleasant enough a diversion in itself. However, having spoken to the delightful trio and then one other very welcoming fellow, then having Sir Peter come and say good afternoon and was I joining for refreshments, I realised how much I missed being part of such as this. I gave thanks for the invite but confessed to my serendipitous presence and that I would keep moving along the path for now. However, committed to joining up as a friend.

Truth be told, the already nearly two hours of walking and then the standing for 20 minutes, was causing the hips and spine to yell at me. I needed to move or they'd've had to carry me out on a stretcher.

One last little surprise awaited me as I hobbled sauntered back. A rustling in shrubs at side of me and out leapt a red deer doe! Not quite on collision course, but I could almost have stroked her. Sigh. The Fudge was napping at that point...

At the office/gift shop, I immediately signed up; I had my entry fee refunded to me as a result, so one fifth of my membership is already paid for. The Friends system also means that I can enter any of the other three botanics facilities in the land (and also Kew Gardens in London I believe) for free. In addition, there is discount to be had on items bought in their shops, at the cafes and against any of the events which require fees.

Be assured, then, you will be seeing a lot of garden with me.... &*)...


  1. Those were beautiful gates to crash. Can't wait to hear the rest!

  2. you will be seeing a lot of garden with me

    GOOD. How fun to be swept along to the golden gates.

  3. I'm impressed Vashti, i read doggies weren't allowed in the garden but your got in!!!! Nice one Vashti.
    What a great day you had, just pawfect!
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

  4. OMD even the GATES were GORGEOUS.... they look like Solid GOLD...

  5. this golden gates are pawsome... and I bet the park is pawsome too... something what has such wonderful gates must be beautiful :o) it reminds me a little of the garden of a Princess :o)
    easy rider

  6. What a great visit to the garden. The golden gate is beautiful. And I love the cute doggie and a neat run in with the deer. Well worth repeat visits, I'll be happy to come along. Enjoy your weekend!

  7. This is so much fun!
    "it actually felt like summer" Yep. Today we had 10 C. this morning's temp.
    I have a book I read to the grandkids, about a girl named Vashti. Now I know where the author got it! I'll have to write this down somewhere or I will forget. It's called The Dot and it is one of Isabelle's faves! GREAT post!!!!

  8. Oh wow! Sometimes you can get really lucky can't you. I remember being in Rome for the first time and following 'my' school through the city. They ended up at the Vatican and I decided to leave the group and do the rest on my own. Best decision: they flew in the crying Madonna of somewhere in Portugal and there was this whole procession waiting for the statue!

    But, back to your post. Looking forward to seeing many more lovely garden photos and posts.


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