Just before the May Bank Holiday weekend, all breaths were held as the weather forecasts on every radio and TV station, not to mention the internet, were scanned. The general feeling was that all would be well. Saturday saw torrential rain and all those whose gardens were due to open their gates on the Sunday, watched fearfully, but as the working party arrived at the Village Hall on the Sunday morning at 8 o'clock, the beautiful Lyth Valley was bathed in sunshine and we all heaved a sigh of relief!
Planning had started last August, under the leadership of John Handley. Five years previously, a committee led by Rosemary Webster, had put on a wonderful event, which gave us a starting point. John Holmes, Geraldine Wilson, Matthew Dobson and Penny Mutch joined the troop and plans were hatched. Meetings were held monthly. We were hopeful that we would be able to raise a substantial sum of money for our chosen charities, The Lyth Valley First Responder Group and the two local Air Ambulance Services. Sixteen brave people agreed to open their gardens to visitors, who would arrive from near and far.
On the Saturday night a working party set up the Village Hall for the Café, which
was to run for the two days from Sunday at 10.30 until Monday at 4.30. (with an overnight
break, although we have a sneaking suspicion that Geraldine was up all night making tuna
sandwiches!) That beautiful Sunday morning more helpers arrived to put up gazebos, to shelter
the ticket and raffle sales from the sun, wind and rain. Margaret Stott arrived with her
van and a wonderful selection of summer bedding plants and shrubs was set out. Green Thumb
put up their stall, offering a lawn improvement service and donated generously to the funds.
Soon volunteer helpers, some of whom were also First Responders, were pouring in from Crook,
Underbarrow, Brigsteer and Witherslack to join the Crosthwaite team.
There were marshals on the road to direct traffic, at the car park to control errant motorists, at gardens to show visitors around, helpers to serve food, wash and clear up, bus drivers and plant sellers.
No-one dared to pass the Raffle Table without digging out their change as Margaret Trotter, Ivy Pearson and Jean Denney pointed out the magnificent prizes donated by local eateries and businesses.
Penny and Alastair were selling the ticket/guides to the punters. These had been designed with flair and printed with care by Dennis Wesson.
Meanwhile the team in the kitchen, led by Geraldine and Caroline were beavering away, preparing sandwiches, salads and buttering the most divine scones, ready for the jam and cream! Cakes, made by so many willing volunteer bakers were cut and placed under their domes.
Our visitors were especially pleased to see that they could leave their cars in the car parks. (Thanks to Alan Wilson and Elizabeth Cartmell for the loan of their fields) Once in possession of their ticket, they could hop on the Community Bus we had hired and visit the outlying gardens. Our trusty drivers, Peter, Martin, Michael, Chris, Sam and Val made endless circuits of the village and valley before handing over to the next volunteer.
At 2 o'clock Burneside Brass Band assembled by the Bowling Green and played for two hours to the delight of those of us fortunate enough to listen to them.
By 4.30, all the helpers were ready for a hot bath and some sleep! We were wrapped in fleeces and still freezing by the end of the day, although the rain had only fallen quite gently, for a very short while.
Monday morning dawned bright, with the promise of warmer weather, although gloves were packed, "just in case". The team were at the Hall by 8, re-erecting gazebos, preparing more food and setting out plants for sale. No doubt garden owners were digging up the odd buttercup or dandelion which had strayed from "the wild area"! Jean Denney was broadcasting our Garden Ramble on Radio Cumbria to great effect. Numerous people who arrived early that morning had learnt of our event as they sat up in bed, drinking tea and munching toast. And it was warmer! We did not need the gloves. The café plied it's trade. The bus whizzed around the village, the plants flew off the shelf and raffle tickets were torn out of books. Everyone who returned to the hall waxed lyrical about the beautiful gardens they had visited. All the hard work by owners of those sixteen gardens had not been in vain!
On Monday evening, Penny sat in her counting house kitchen and realised that with expenses kept at a minimum, due to generous donations by a number of people and the cost of food and drink being defrayed by the Exchange, the grand total for the two days was going to be just about £5,000!
Many thanks to all those people who helped to make this such a splendid success and a GREAT DAY OUT!!
Penny Mutch 09/06/10
Photographs by Penny Mutch
Click on an image to see a higher resolution popup