Camping and Caravanning to See Gardens

The Hidden Gardens of Bury St Edmunds 19-06-2011 by Karen Roe

This Garden Lady loves to visit gardens in the US and around the world. This was on my “bucket list” from my childhood before that term became popular. And as I aged I have visited these places and check off all the spots I have seen. My most recent trip was to see the gardens in Ireland. Though I now am able to travel comfortably in my senior years, I wasn’t always able to afford to indulge my dream so comfortably, but that didn’t stop me.

As a child growing up, rather isolated in a small farming village, I always dreamed of traveling the world. One school teacher I had fed that interest by reading or telling the class stories of exciting travel adventures. My neighbor’s daughter became a teacher so that she could then teach around the globe. She would write home to her parents when she traveled, telling about her experiences abroad. Her mother would come to our house to read these letters. Thus I decided that was what I would do when I grew up; I wanted to travel and see all the world had to offer. But I was a poor child so I had to wait.

I held onto that dream when I got married and my husband knew of my desires. He was a graduate student at that time so once again there was little money to see the world. But he was determined to make me happy.

We decided that the only way we could afford to travel and see the world, really starting with this country first- was to camp. We saved our pennies for a good tent. When we were married in the 60s, tents were not made of the light-weight material they are today. They were heavy – I think ours weighed a few hundred pounds with all the stakes, etc.- and the camping equipment we found was bulky. So we dreamed of having a trailer. Again, trailers were not as easily available back then as they are today. In fact, the only camper we drooled over was the VW camper that came out in the 1950s. But we could just admire it, we could definitely not afford to buy one.

So we traveled with our heavy tent and almost everyday we set up camp in a new location and explored all the sights including gardens in every spot we visited. We did this when our two sons were a year and 3 years. I thought I was brave tenting with two small boys until I met a camper with a week old baby that she slept with in her sleeping bag. She claimed that was the easiest age to camp with a child. She should know, because she had a brood of kids with her.

Why am I writing this? To say that if you want to visit the gardens as I have over a lifetime, it can be done even if you are not rich. Today there are so many more options for travel than there were over 50 years ago when I started. For example, one son who is a hiker has the most lightweight tents that one person can carry quite easily.

There are so many van styles and campers to choose from and now you can even buy affordable used ones. I was looking online and found that there is even insurance, such as, that one can buy for campers. I thought, ‘ what fun it would have been when I was recently in Ireland to have a camper and drive some of the beautiful Irish scenery that we, using a bus, could not see because a bus is too big, we were told, to maneuver some of the roads.’ For example, I wanted to drive the scenic route along the coast from Belfast to Dublin. ln a way, traveling as I now do, in what I consider almost luxury (no I am still not as rich as the movie stars who can really travel first class) is fun but not as much fun as traveling with that tent or camper where you really can get to see all the nooks and crannies of a country and get a true sense of adventure by traveling through all those byways where buses can’t fit.

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