20th April: Exbury Gardens and HMS Mastodon

I’ve joined the Friends of Exbury Gardens with the idea that it will encourage me to go there more often.  On this day I was filling in on the last shift at NCI Stone Point and it was a sunny day so I thought I’d go early and visit the Gardens on my way.  Of course I ended up being very quickly drawn down to the Beaulieu River.

On the opposite shore was Clobb Copse where a large floating dock for the Mulbery Harbour was constructed in WWII.  Also constructed there were quite a lot of the concrete “Beetles” some of which now form the shoreline at Dibden Bay. Sir Owen Aisher who owned Clobb Copse was Head of the Marley building supplies firm who, inter alia, made concrete buildings.  My father slotted together one of their concrete garages behind the house in Llanfairfechan; it was very hard work!  Also in those days I won an Owen Aisher Award at the National Schools Regatta to spend a weeks dinghy racing at Cowes, I think the man himself turned up at the final meal at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club where we were staying to present us with engraved “Currey Bosun” lock-spike knives.

Walking along the “Old River Walk” I came to the viewpoint down towards the Lower Exbury salterns and the site of the Arromanches Plaque.  The Exbury information board there quoted from “Requiem for a Wren” and somehow I found that passage more moving than the Arromanches Plaque itself or, come to that,  the D-Day Memorials at Lepe.

Walking back, I tried to get a snack at the Old Tennis Courts Cafe but there was only one person doing everything and the queue, although short, was not moving! I ended up having a quiche salad from Mr Eddy’s which was far more than I meant to eat for lunch but very tasty. I then wandered into the Yard Wood close to the Visitor Entrance and sat in the Bog Garden for a short while before driving back to Lepe.