I'd been planning to try out the Ceroc dances at Hammersmith Town Hall for some time and while planning routes and transport I noticed a station called "Kew Gardens". Ding! Why not explore these during the day and then dance the night away?
Kew is a quaint London suburb with lots of small shops gathered round the station and decaying genteelly. A short walk and you're at the gardens. In some ways, they are like an enormous municipal park, the like of which you'd find in any English city. There are lawns, flower beds, lakes, cafés and screaming kids. When you look a bit closer, you spot the differences. For a start, there's no swings or "amusements" which may explain why the kids are screaming. The plants, shall we say have class. Almost immediately I noticed some 6' stalks with large seedpods. A small sign announced Cardiocrinum Giganteum. Hooray! I've read about these giant lilies and considered growing some at home. They were not quite as impressive as I'd expected so I probably won't bother.
I soon find you can't rely on the signs. There's a curiously shaped tree claiming to be "Lillium Regale" but I know better! In one area the Verbena Bonariensis has got everywhere (as it does) but it gets a variety of labels. Nice plant though. Here's one I grew earlier
I am much taken with a bed full of "Impatiens glandulifera" which seems wrong as it's 6' tall. Impatiens=busy lizzie and they're usually quite small. Looked it up at home and it's Himalayan Balsam and an "invasive species weed"! I suppose like lions and tigers in the Zoo, it's safe enough in skilled hands but possibly unsuitable for the home garden.
Another discovery was lemon poppy seed cake (in the café), several huge greenhouses, a treetop walk and a viewing platform for their giant compost heaps.
So, on to the dance. Whenever I go to a dance place out of my normal orbit I tend to arrive early and find the place so quiet that I initially wonder if I've got the date wrong. Next, I discover that it is the right place/time but there are only 10 punters in a huge ballroom. After an hour, it's filled up and looks sensible, two hours and it's heaving. I found some great dancers by my usual method of watching their feet and I'm grateful for the management's bulk purchase of huge electric fans keeping things cool. They even set up one to blow cold air direct from the outside.
Just before midnight, I bail out and catch the underground to Victoria for the "Oxford Tube" that delivers me back to my car. An hour's drive and I'm straight to bed.