Dilston Physics Garden

The title disguises what a wonderful place this is, nestled between Corbridge and Hexham on the A695, up a dirt track that could challenge a mountain goat in bad weather, we were greeted by a few seconds of rally driving as the car slipped, slid, skidded up the track. But for once abled bodied people will lose out on this treat as they have to park at the bottom of the lane and walk up, where I was met by my host for the morning who aided the process by rally driving me up to the garden entrance in truly unique fashion, whilst saying hello – what an introduction. Future meeting with others will be so boring and mundane in comparison, a mere handshake and that traditional peacock like display of plumage now evolved into the giving of business cards, so much better though than greeting as other mammals do, I really couldn’t start a meeting with the sniffing of another’s private parts as seen so commonly when member of Canis Lupis Familiaris meets another. Yes, introducing oneself, volunteering to get my vehicle and my colleagues, not forgetting myself, up a winding muddy lane at high exhilarating speed, inches from an ever increasing drop as we ascend the lane, just inches from traditional stone wall, accompanied by mud flying from spinning wheels, rush of adrenaline, completely contrasted with the politeness of a first meeting and greeting – bizarre but so much fun, talk about making an impression.

As I decanted into my wheelchair, I recalled for a second that everything else may seem a little dull from such a heart pounding rush of pure excitement? I was wrong, wrong, wrong. This is not to say the rest of the visit was just as exciting, as it wasn’t, I am not sure how it could be, if continued at such a heart pumping pace for another hour and a half the garden would probably be known for being the biggest cause of cardiac arrest in Northumberland.

The rest of the visit was less adrenaline junky for sure, no more extreme sports or screaming amusement park rides, and more the other end of the spectrum, it was literally the opposite, the most relaxing, serene and peaceful environment I have ever been in. The ironic thought did cross my mind that the only way to attain access to serenity was through a near violent drive to it, but I think it added to the contrast like a sharp blue veined mature cheese being serenaded by a smooth enticing wine; one without the other is less in some way, lacking in essence.

I honestly can say it was the most relaxing of places, the gentle breeze wafted jasmine, then camomile, lavender, pepper mint, and an abundance of subtly blending aromas that I honestly could not identify, just wafting from the left, the right, from every direction as the breeze swirled round the garden and my increasingly relaxed, if a little bold, head.

We chatted to the most wonderful host, Nicolette, and she made us all a freshly picked mix of herbs, well, it was just pure nectar, and we were reassured it was designed to relax, well I was already there to be honest as we chatted and sipped, it was genuinely quite incredible. Even the benches were made of gnarled old beech roots, silver grey representing the woods true age, it needed to be touched as the fine sculpture it was, feeling if it had been sea washed and sanded over the decades, one of the few elements that got better with harsh Northumberland weathering. These natural master pieces, millennia in the making, now nestled gently in the garden next to an actual camomile lawn, where the visitor, discovering the oasis of relaxation, could rest and absorb the initial experience of peacefulness.

It was similar to high altitude climbing; one needed a few moments to be calm, to acclimatise in reaction to the sensory overload that was ironically creating a very mellow fellow effect.

Now a dilemma is rampant, do I continue to describe the dragon heads, walled garden, avenues of tall grasses and bamboo rustling in the breeze leading your eyes up the green swaying passage to where one’s gaze settles on a Buda, vista down the Tyne Valley headed with fluffy clouds of grey-white with a foreground of meadow field flowering; lavender to the left; wind chimes; sculptures forming seamless part of borders almost believing they could have been grown by the plants; and so much more.

Every time I looked at one area I thought I had absorbed what it had to offer, only to look again and see more and more that was missed at first inspection. I felt as if I had insulted Mother Nature by thinking I had seen all that she had painted, but only to realise how inadequate my eyes were to really appreciate her spectacle. To only use one viewing position was an affront on her talents, to use one sense was narrow minded and so human, total emersion with all the senses was the only way to even begin to understand 1% of what is there.

There was a fleeting thought with the changing light and the abundance of botany bursting into flaming flowers, ever changing leaves and stems, so many variables, capricious in its natural design, and of course the fickle Northumberland weather, that one could go to this haven of peace every day and it would not be the same two days in a row. This is the key to my own question, it is also going to be different for every person who goes and finds nirvana there for themselves, so it is not for me to dictate in words what you will find, but find it you should.

There is only one final comment I have to make, it isn’t accessible to people with mobility problems, I was so lucky to have a rally of thrills by the Nicolette, but this will not always be the case. Even when there I needed constant pushing to get around as best I could and normally I would rant about the Social Model of Disability at this point. However, I have thought about this and surprised myself, to make it mobility accessible would actually spoil it in some way, would ruin the green passages, the soft camomile lawn, the narrow secret passages of self-seeding grasses. So for this time only I am advocating that it doesn’t change, I wouldn’t want to take the risk of ruining nirvana – who would want this. Mother Nature has painted her picture, formed her collage of splendour, no it has to stay as it is.

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