This year, I was really excited about driving over to Castle Farm again during my month in the UK. I wanted to stand at the edge of the field, to gaze at the purple stripes of lavender, undulating away. The first time they had made me gasp out loud when our train flew past them.
So when we landed a month ago, I looked out for them as our train sped away from London into Kent. And there they were. The tiniest hint only of the purple to come, just lines of small, round, mostly green shrubs.
Each time I caught the train to or from London, I obsessed about my seat; desperate to be on the correct side to catch the startling view of the lavender over the Downs.
Over the four weeks with each train trip it changed, ripening. I planned, tried to identify when I could get over to the Farm to stand and inhale the perfume, the view. I knew that I would take scores of pictures, all of which would look exactly the same as last year’s photos but I still wanted to get over there.
Time was running out, not just for me, but for the lavender too. I knew from last year that they would harvest at the end of July.
And then three days before I flew back to Bangkok I was on the train for the final time. I crossed my fingers and hoped that they hadn’t harvested yet; perhaps and I could get over to the farm during the weekend. I gazed out of the window, waiting for the purple fields to appear in front of me but all I saw were shrubs, rich green, in neat rows disappearing over the hill. I’d missed it.
I was a bit sad but hey, I saw them from the train. I watched them ripen over June and July.
On my last day, I went off to a car boot sale in Sissinghurst with my sister and a couple of her friends. On the way back I spotted another Kent vision. This is a disappearing-from-the-landscape vision: a field of hops.