Town Mouse, Country Mouse

This autumn seems to be a season of slanting sunshine and juicy colours.
I am in North London with my daughter Libby and we are discovering the joys of Stoke Newington. There are tempting book shops, quirky markets, vintage cafes and, to make my day complete, a shabby chic flower shop called Flowers N16.
At the back of the shop is a paved garden about to settle into winter, at the front, a wooden floored open space - slightly battered - but with great sploshes of colour.
Normally I like to see flowers come and go with the seasons, but here I can't help enjoying the muddled mix of end-of-season sunflowers and inappropriate tulips.
But for all the pleasure I gained from a foray into the city - home is where the heart is.
I am back at Pythouse Walled Garden, and in my opinion, nothing could be better.
It is the most perfect, warm autumn day and as I wander around with my camera, waiting for a friend to join me for lunch, I fall into conversation with a lady who has been drinking coffee in the sunshine. We both agree this is a very special place.
At Pythouse they are gathering in the pumpkins.
Some will go in the pumpkin and ginger soup.
Amanda, today's chef, emerges from the kitchen in search of another specimen, hair fetchingly tied up in a green and white stripey tea-towel bow.
The rest are ready for a pumpkin carving evening Mitch, the owner, has planned for young families at Halloween.
I am beginning to feel sorry that my girls are grown up and I become quite wistful watching the younger customers running up and down between the rows of herbs and vegetables.
Still, it won't be long before my girls will be back for the weekend and I can bring them over for coffee or lunch. There will be no noses to wipe, laces to tie, or endless questions to answer; so I suppose getting older does have its compensations.

Amazing in the Autumn

Town and County Flowers on Wandsworth Bridge Road in London is celebrating autumn in style.
I often used to drive past this shop when I had my own flower shop, The Lemon Tree, in Battersea many, many years ago.
It is good to see that they are keeping up the tradition (which I remember well) of having glorious displays of colour in and outside the shop.
How can you not feel cheered by the splashes of tangarine orange and lipstick pinks?
I call in to say hello and find that the shop is still run by the same people who owned it when I used to live around here. As I chat with florist Georgina and ask after owner, Elaine, we discover we have florists friends in common. Not surprising, perhaps, but nice none the less.
I know only too well that running a successful flower shop for twenty years is no mean achievement - and I take my hat off to them.
And of course if you live in South London and you need flowers, these are the ladies to go to. Believe me, there is nothing they will not have come across in twenty years!


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