On Saturday, I attended a pre-publication lunch held to promote Monty Don’s new book, ‘Down to Earth‘. I don’t often accept the various invitations I receive through the blog but this sounded marvellous … and with free food and drink too.
Despite considerable effort spent making myself sort-of-presentable, I still felt out-of-place at the very smart venue – Hams Yard Hotel, Soho – and on arrival half expected a hand on the shoulder and a polite shove toward the exit. But no. My name was on the list, the smiley staff were welcoming and immediately offered me a cold glass of bubbly. I clasped it tightly and tried not to gulp.
Four storeys above the hubbub of Soho, the roof terrace was cool and tranquil and beautiful, as I double checked my fingernails for mud and scanned the early arrivals in hope of a familiar face. There wasn’t one, so I tried to look purposeful by photographing non-gulped wine.
And then I took a second for no good reason and, still acting purposeful, explored the terrace.
Monty Don would arrive soon to sign copies of his new book for this small gathering of twenty or so bloggers and ‘influencers’. It was as I took the above photo that I saw two very welcome faces indeed emerging from the green: Michelle Chapman and Alison Levey, who write the Veg Plotting and The Blackberry Garden blogs. I’d met both before and they introduced me to two other bloggers, Sara Venn and Alexandra Campbell – The Physic Garden and The Middle Sized Garden – and I was no longer lonely.
With Michelle, I walked through a gate to a small but crammed-full veg garden, with beehives,
and even a green-roofed shed for goodness sake. But to be honest I was so busy nattering to Michelle that I took less notice of this roof-top oasis than I should have.
Our small group of Garden Bloggers gravitated toward the ‘signing table’ where we were offered a succession of wonderful canapes – and more fizz. I’d eaten nothing all day and was tempted to grab fistfuls of food at a time; but there was no need. Chunks of tender beef with béarnaise sauce, small ice-cream type cones crammed with delicious mushroom risotto and prawns speared on to something very-tasty-but-I’ve-forgotten-what, kept on coming with lots of other delicious morsels. I ate till I could eat no more. We washed all that down with gin cocktails in glasses the size of goldfish bowls, leaving us all rather jolly if not overtly raucous. I think.
Time for the main event.
As if by magic, Monty Don appeared straight off the telly and gave a short introduction about his new book, its journey from initial musings on a beach in India and its purpose: his personal thoughts on what is important about gardening, with tips and pointers to make one’s garden grow well.
Then, each guest was handed a Hessian goodie bag (no, really) containing a handsome mug (mine with the inscription ‘For True Gents’), a small pretty plant, a tube of posh hand cream, a roll of posh twine, a pack of posh teabags and The Book, which Monty would sign for us. I hadn’t expected a free copy and queued up dutifully.
When it was my turn to meet Mr Don, my mind went blank and rather than launching into pithy, witty, sparkling repartee nor even mentioning my blog (my son groaned and sank his face into his hands when I told him about that omission), I recited my smuttiest limerick.
Which went down well. (I didn’t really recite a smutty limerick. Though in retrospect, I rather wish I had. As I’m sure, does Monty).
I’m sorry to say that since the lunch, I’ve barely had time to open Down to Earth, let alone read it. But the publisher, Dorling Kindersley, who kindly laid on the lunch and to whom I offer my warmest thanks, has offered me a second (unsigned) copy to give away.
The book is published tomorrow and if you would like the chance to win your own copy, here’s all you need do:
say you want to enter in the “Any Thoughts” box below
(if you don’t do so already) follow ‘The Anxious Gardener’ blog; or follow me on Twitter; or like The Anxious Gardener Facebook page. Or all three! The relevant follow buttons are in the sidebar of this page.
You can also enter via Twitter or Facebook – check my Twitter feed and Facebook page for details.
Please note that the prize can only be posted to a UK postal address.
The competition will close at midnight on Sunday 15th October 2017.
I’ll draw a name from my hat, contact the winner and add the result to the bottom of this post.