Sunlight dappled the pathways, azaleas and rhododendrons dazzled the eye and the annual challenge to capture the glory of Isabella was off to a good start. There is no practical way of getting there other than by car so we met by the Broomfield Hill entrance, without our usual coffee and buns, and set about finding our bearings. Critical, of course, to know where the nearest loos are but more important to pick a comfortable spot where the blinding colours can be tackled on canvas (or avoided!).
Most of us headed off to the Still Pond which is a small expanse of motionless water (the clue is in the name), sheltered in the dark shade of some dense trees but surrounded and illuminated by an absolute riot of spring colour. There are two problems. One is that it is almost impossible to construct a picture that does justice to the scene without looking too cheesy and the other is that the azaleas act as a irresistible magnet to every species of amateur photographer. And a great deal of professional ones too! So the narrow paths can get a little crowded, blocking the artists’ chosen views, and the air is filled, not so much with the soft buzzing of bees, but with the gentle oohing and ahhing of appreciative back-packing onlookers.
Nevertheless it’s all good fun and we did our best, sometimes urgently borrowing different tubes of colour from each other in an attempt to match the hues. There was one quite comic moment when a pretty young woman, dressed in a flowing wedding dress, posed for photographs against the stunning background, unabashedly proud of her expectant belly, her adoring husband-to-be dancing in attendance.
We picnicked for lunch and tea, took images of our work and eventually made our way home, not really believing that nature could put on such a display.