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« Stonehenge | Main | Battling Complacency in the Scottish Winter »

Wernham-Hogg & The Royal Botanical Gardens

We got up at the crack of dawn yesterday morning to drive to Slough (rhymes with cow), our home base for the next few days. What's in Slough? There's the Horlick's malted milk factory, a Tesco Extra, and the Mars factory, (actually it used to be here, now it's somewhere in the Czech Republic, but still the Mars bar was created here). The real reason we decided to shack up in Slough for a few days is much more pathetic -- it's home to Wernham-Hogg. The fictional paper company in the original BBC's "The Office." How could we not, given the chance, stay in Slough?

We made good time on the drive, and got there earlier than we thought. Since we didn't really want to face our super-cheap hotel so early in the day, we explored the options that Betty showed us. Betty, for those of you who don't know, is our navigation system. Betty will, sadly, stay with the car when we return it this week -- we're going to miss her. Anyone who's ever driven with either of us knows that we spend a large part of our time behind the wheel lost, and Betty has seen us safely across Europe and the UK admirably.

Betty had several suggestions, including the Royal Botanic Gardens (called Kew Gardens), in London. Our friend Dave, who's written several books on Palm Trees, had told us about the Palm House at the Kew, and how cool it is. Dave was right!

We scurried between several of the greenhouses at the gardens. It's winter, and below freezing in London, so hot-houses are where it's at at the Kew. The Palm House stole the show! The sprawling iron and glass structure, built in 1848, is so very Victorian. Green houses are always great - the experience of walking into a whole other climate is so extravagant, especially when you walk from the dead of winter to the luxurious warmth and profusion of the tropics.

The great thing about the Palm House is that once you're inside, it could be 2010, or 1840, and it would look exactly the same. The palms are pre-historically big. The iron railings are ornate, the condensation from the soaring glass ceiling drips onto your head in startlingly heavy splashes. Up a lacy spiral staircase is a catwalk circling the upper walls, and to get a glimpse at the frozen garden plots below you outside, you have to scrub a circle in the slightly slimy, wet windows.

We were still wandering the gardens at closing time. We would have been worried about finding our cheap hotel in the dark if it weren't for Betty.

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Reader Comments (9)

I think I will need to hear a farewell recording of Betty as she directs you to your final destination where you toss her asside like an old brown shoe. i mean, bid her a fond adieu.

Feb 1, 2010 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterpaul

Oooooh, gardens! More more more pics!
Love, L.A.
ps I believe your motives for visiting Wernham-Hogg are HIGHLY honorable.

Feb 1, 2010 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered Commenternoho1960

Thoroughly enjoying your writing.

Very cool hot house.

Our GPS is named Dorothy a.k.a. "Dotty." Don't you love her accent?

Feb 1, 2010 at 9:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Beautiful photos! I've been reading through some of your archives and am in awe of your trip. It's something I would love to do ... if I was brave enough. Can't wait to read more. And will you be spending more time in London? I love that city with all my heart ...

Feb 2, 2010 at 5:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterSarah Caron

Yes, Kew, and the warm tropics - perfect Rx for the winter blahs.

Feb 2, 2010 at 8:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterMargery

We lived near a lovely conservatory (very big greenhouse) in Capital Hill Park in Seattle when I was growing up, but the spiral staircase at Kew Gardens beats all!
We've been reading about sloughs in the Little House on the Prairie series (On the Shores of Silver Lake). Nice to finally know how it is pronounced. (I'm still waiting for the pronunciation of "Onegin.")

Feb 2, 2010 at 8:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicole

How wonderful to visit gardens.........I love gardens and in the dead ofwinter in London must have been a wonderful experience.
The last time I was in London it was November with really dreadful weather. Southerners should never visit London in the winter, our blood is too thin.

Feb 2, 2010 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterMOM

Wow! Slough! That is where we lived in 2008. Technically we lived in Wexham, Buckinghamshire but our address was the only part of Wexham that was not in Slough. They also have one of the largest Tesco's...quite the experience if you get a chance. Just parking alone is an experience. Keep up your postings. One you will be thankful that you are capturing every little detail. Second, there are so many of us who are enjoying traveling along with you!

Feb 2, 2010 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMonique

You guys are in Shani country now!! Shani grew up in Maidenhead just 6 miles from Windsor and spent much of her youth working at various places in Slough and High Wickham. After you been there that should explain a lot about Shani (ha ha ) ENJOY!!!!

Feb 3, 2010 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterDan Hiland

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