Saturday and Sunday 19th and 20th September saw the Heathfield open day and central parks who attended both days, can confirm the event was very well attended, no doubt helped by the gloriously sunny weather.
Both the house and the garden with orchards at the back were open . The Orchard tour was very interesting with amusing anecdotes given by our guide. The ecology centre grow their own honey and the large group were shown a mock-up of a hive. Explanation of worker bees and queen bees was simplified for the children in attendance : but I was impressed by the 40,000 female bees that provide the honey in the summer while the 100 boy bees sit around watching the rugby and tending to the queen bee! In the winter though the girls get their own back and kick out the boys.
We sampled a variety of the apples that grow from the old english trees some of which are over 150 years old. Verification of their ages by Kew Gardens resulted in the site being given natural heritage status . I particularly liked the Blenheim Orange , an apple tree that tastes like an orange. The Cox’s pippins and The American Mothers were also very enjoyable and all varieties were available for purchase afterwards.
The resident sheep Ben and Sam were kept behind the gate as they can become wary of large groups. They are Herdwick Sheep made famous in the writings of Beatrix Potter. One child asked was she the mother of Harry Potter?
Once the tour was over we visited the mansion-house that hosted a number of exhibitions from paintings from a local artist, to demonstration of ancient art of wool weaving , stalls from Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth and the ubiquitous plant sale.
Outside on the lawns various telescopes were set up by the local Croydon Astronomical Society who meet up down the road at The Royal Russell School. Curious about the bright star that is appearing near the moon I sought the advice of the organiser who confirmed it was probably Venus , but over the next two weeks it is more likely to be Jupiter that is in the ascendancy.
After a great weekend this pheasant was spotted heading for the car park.