On the southern edge of Sheffield, just beyond the Batemoor and Jordanthorpe council estates, there are three garden centres - New Leaf, Ferndale and Tommy Ward's. I visited all three of them earlier today - searching for a particular Christmas gift for my brother Robin who lives in south western France. The gift idea is garden-related.
In passing I noticed four identical things at each garden centre:-
1) The car park was almost full
2) They each had a lot of Christmas tat on display.
3) There was nobody outside looking at the plants and trees etc..
4) The cafe tables were all full and there were customers queuing at the counter.
It seems that a visit to a garden centre may not be about horticulture any more. Not about seeds and slightly pink hydrangeas or watering cans and shasta daisies but more about tinsel and singing snowmen made in China as well as cups of tea and toasted sandwiches or slices of chocolate cake and bowls of carrot and ginger soup.
I have nothing against the elderly as I am officially an old git myself, but it was interesting to note that just about every table in each of the three cafes was occupied by silver-haired people. And they were all chattering away about topics that interest the wrinklies such as the price of bread, grandchildren and the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Needless to say, I did not find the present I was after and now must resort to a small online business named after a rain forest in South America. I cannot name the gift in question as my brother sometimes peruses this blog. Hiya bro! Comment ça va?