I feel normal again. The sun shone, I indulged in my first bit of horticultural retail therapy of the season, visited a beautiful garden and got my hands in some soil at last.
It was a frisky 4 degrees, but the blue skies drew crowds of buyers and sellers to Chiswick Car Boot Sale. First Sunday of the month is always a good opportunity for a gardening bargain. In amongst the original Home Pride collectables, novelty teapots and second hand Prada shoes, I found a a very good small-headed hoe (£2), four pots of just emerging tulips (£3), and some excellently warm thick woollen socks, perfect for wellies (but very handy at the time as my feet were frozen). Meanwhile, fellow carbooter Ian, sensibly wearing his football manager sheepskin, went home with a very nice standard olive tree for his Pimlico balcony (£15). Other items of note were the seller who had dug up his (or someone else's) garden and was flogging a range of slightly sad-looking shrubs, completely bare-rooted and of dubious health. I didn't enquire after the prices.
As the sale takes place opposite Chiswick House, it would have been rude not to pop into the park and see how the restoration project is going. It seems to have been taking forever and it's nearly there - there are fewer areas cordoned off with orange plastic and it's easier to see how lovely the finished park will look, all those historic views and pathways back to how they were meant to be. But while the planting is following tradition, it's great to see that the park cafe is fantastically modernist. Beautiful composite concrete that looks like travertine marble, with vast windows and a portico with views to the house. Well done English Heritage for not going down the obvious route of a twee, reproduction building. I hope it will be using produce from Chiswick House Kitchen Garden later in the year.