Hampton Court Flower Show: Not Just for Nan

Hampton Court Flower Show
Think you need grey hair and a bus pass to enjoy a flower show? Think again.

This weekend James and I got our pensioner on and spent the day at Hampton Court Flower Show. Oh yes… we can be civilised. The tickets were a birthday present for James’ lovely mum and our company was an added bonus ;).

I’m not really sure what I was expecting. Roses, lace and the faint smell of ammonia? Perhaps. But I was totally wrong.

Hampton Court Flower Show was more of a quirky country festival than a pensioner’s day out. And it was totally, quintessentially British.

Arriving early means you miss the initial rush and the inevitable car park queues – highly recommended… it was too early to barge my way into anywhere.

We parked up, headed in and within 10 minutes I had my chops wrapped around a bacon butty. All was well with the world. (I’m afraid there’s no photo of the bacon as it was gone in a matter of seconds… but here’s a photo of the entrance for you.)

Hampton Court Flower Show

The flowers and bacon await…

Hampton Court Flower Show is absolutely massive – so wear comfy shoes. I made the mistake of going for the pretty flowery sandals (thought I ought to fit in) and sweet jaysus did I regret it. My feet were more blister than feet by the end of the day. Will I ever learn?

But the masses of walking did make me feel better about the amount of crap I consumed during the seven hours we were there (but I’ll get onto that a bit later…)

 

The flowers

I figured I had better give the flowers prime spot at the top of this post. They were absolutely beautiful. Even as a garden-less, hay-fever sufferer, I could appreciate them.

Every colour you could hope for… but I’ll apologise now; I’m no Alan Titchmarsh. So I’m afraid I can’t name them… If any of you lovelies have green fingers then help is more than welcome!

Hampton Court Flower Show

Hampton Court Flower Show - An array of colour

Hampton Court Flower Show - Pretty in Pink

We love a good flower

Hampton Court Flower Show - Roses climbing the wall

The Food and drink

I have a talent for scouting out the nearest food establishments within 10 minutes of arriving at a new place. This weekend was no different. Bacon sarnie: Check, Pizza: Check, Ice cream: Check.

Pizza on a hay bale: Perfection

Pizza on a hay bale: Perfection

And this was no ordinary pizza. Ohh no. This was posh pizza with truffle oil. That perhaps explains why I couldn’t bring myself to stop eating for a photograph.. (and why I had oil ALL down my white top for the remainder of the day) Smooth.

One of you... two of us... we make that Pimms o'clock

One of you… two of us… we make that Pimms o’clock

The sun came out and we made for the beer tent. Obviously.

The sun came out and we made for the beer tent. Obviously.

The Weird and the Wonderful

If flowers aren’t your thang, then don’t you worry – there’s plenty more to keep you entertained at Hampton Court Flower Show. There’s crazy topiary men, vintage female Edward Scissorhands, penis plants, scary scarecrows and life-size gorilla garden statues for goodness sake. Take your pick.

Me hanging with a couple of bushes. As you do.

Me hanging with a couple of bushes. As you do.

Vintage Edward Scissor Hands with her topiary friends. Ok then.

Vintage Edward Scissor Hands with her topiary friends. Ok then.

Joan and Mr Gorilla at Hampton Court

James’ lovely mum… not sure who the woman on the right is. 😉

Hampton Court Flower Show

They say Hampton Court Palace is haunted by Ann Boleyn’s ghost. I think we found her…

The Live Music

The whole day took place to a backdrop of fantastic live music. I’d love to link to their individual sites here but for the life of me I can’t remember the name of the bands… Grrr *bad blogger*. If anyone happens to know, do shout!

The first jazz band serenaded us whilst we sat on a hay bale, ate pizza and drank beer in the sunshine. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

The bandstand and Hampton Court

Sunshine, deck chairs and jazz.

The next band was on a little later in the day. If my feet weren’t riddled with blisters, even I would have been tempted to dance. This is the type of band I’ve always secretly wished I could be a part of. Singing the classics, dancing like no one’s watching and getting the crowd up on their feet. Fab.

Music at Hampton Court Flower Show

The Shopping

If you fancy taking a break from flower power, live music and feeding your face – how about a bit of retail therapy?

Hampton Court Flower Show hosts an array of stalls just waiting to make your wallet that little bit lighter.

From giant garden statues (see the gorilla above), through tools, hot tubs, green houses all the way to handbags and jewellery.. there’s a little bit of everything.

Our favourite stall was WoodenZone…

WoodenZone Hampton Court Flower Show

We’ve never been so desperate to own a driftwood fish before

Inspirational People

WoodenZone is the creation of Nigel Peterken – the most inspiring man.

He was stood in a sea of driftwood sculptures and art and we were immediately drawn to the designs.

Meet Nigel. He used to be a graphic designer back in the day but when computers took over, he decided a desk job wasn’t for him.

Hampton Court Flower Show WoodenZone

Nigel left a job in graphic design to comb beaches for driftwood

So what did he do? He packed up and took off to New Zealand that’s what.

He camps by the coast and spends his days combing the beaches for stunning pieces of driftwood. He then spends the rest of the year working his magic, creating the most beautiful natural art and furniture.

If nature inspired art and furniture is your cup of tea then you must check out the WoodenZone website here… I guarantee you’ll be wanting the coffee table! (and maybe even quitting your job to become a beach comber… don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

 

The Mad Rush

You know that horrifying scene in the Lion King? The one with the stampede that nearly kills Simba and ends in the death of poor Muffussa?

Well, when the bell rings at 4.30 at Hampton Court Flower Show, the wildebeest are coming and it is time to run.

At 4.30 on the last show day of the year, the bell symbolises a ‘sell off’ and every flower in the whole place goes on sale at a bargain price. It’s an ‘everything must go’ situation and it’s terrifying.

I have never seen anything like it. It was like being carried along, desperately trying to stay afloat in a sea of hyacinths and begonias.

Hampton Court Flower Show

Never get between a gardener and his flower bargains

To sum up…

Hampton Court Flower Show is a great day out. If you’re visiting England in July and want to experience a truly British day, then this is the perfect choice. Simply hop on a train at London Waterloo and you’ll be at Hampton Court 30 minutes later.

A ticket will set you back £30.50, which may seem expensive but you do get a fair amount of bang for your buck.

We loved it. The flowers were beautiful, the music was great, the atmosphere buzzing and the food delicious.

Flower power won us over. We’d definitely go again! 

 

Hampton Court Flower Show

We went to a flower show and all we bought was gin.

  • http://www.mummytravels.com Cathy Winston

    Love this – I went for the first time this year and it was amazing. With my toddler so less Pimms, sadly, and on the preview day so the pizza place was shut (I waited hopefully) though.

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Thanks so much Cathy! It was our first time there this year also and I was surprised by how fantastic it was! Such a great atmosphere. Shame you missed the pizza place, but you did get the ultra fresh flowers!! Some of them were looking a little sad and droopy by the time we got around. Thanks for the comment :).

      Gabby

  • http://www.jewelswandering.com julie @ jewelswandering

    Despite living in London for 5.5 years, I admit, I never made it to the flower show (hang head in shame) but now I’m kicking myself for missing out…!

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Oh Julie you did miss a bit of a gem! Never mind, something on the list for when you’re next around in July :)… let us know if you go, we may well be going too ;). Thanks for stopping by!

      Gabby

  • http://www.have-clothes-will-travel.com/ Lindsey Puls

    This post was great! You had me laughing out loud (literally) – especially during the Mad Rush part! If I ever make my way to England, I will most definitely be checking out Hampton Court Flower Show. You had me sold at bacon and beer. Flowers are nice plus, too. 😉

    And Woodenzone looks absolutely incredible!

    -Lindsey
    http://www.have-clothes-will-travel.com

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      What a fantastic comment – thank you so much. Really pleased the post made you laugh, that was my hope :). It really was like that… I would have run for cover if I wasn’t too busy drinking my beer ;). Woodenzone was amazing, definitely check it out.

      Hope you make it to Hampton Court one year… if only for the bacon and beer ;).
      Thanks for stopping by Lindsey,

      Gabby

  • http://travellousworld.com Maaike – travellousworld.com

    I will definitely try to go there next year! I mean flowers, food, drink, music, quirky art (living art? The Edward Scissor Hands thing), who doesn’t like that?!