I will not hear a bad word said against Essex. I met such a nice bunch of florists there this week (and I do like florists who know how to put on a good lunch). I was invited to the very pretty village of Pleshey to give a talk to a group of women, who became friends when they all attended a floristry course at Writtle agricultural college.
The talk and demonstration took place in Jane's very beautiful barn and later on the flower conversation spread out into the garden.
What I particularly enjoyed was seeing how a passion for flowers could bring together a wide range of women in terms of age and careers to form such strong bonds of friendship. Even after the course ended they continue to meet once a week - now dubbing themselves 'the bunch of florists'.
It was also a lunch for confessions, as one lady explained how she had once nearly forgotten a wedding (but with the help of other florists pulled it out of the bag at the 11th hour). You could see the ladies around the table blanching in sympathy, myself included.
Later that day I was telling the story to my friend Anne who is a vicar. She told me how she once forgot a wedding rehearsal, only remembering as she was drinking wine with friends. She bolted to the church and rushed in late, shaking her head and sighing "so sad, so sad". No one ever asked her what had held her up!
I was particularly taken with Jane's splendid pink lilies, which she bought from Hampton Court Flower Show last year.