It’s been a while since I attended a garden party. Heck, it’s been a while since I attended any kind of party – let it be known your thirties are pretty dry on the party front so make the most of it while you can. When this delightful invite from Waitrose came through the door then (in all it’s hamper and Heston’s ‘Garden Cup’ glory) I already knew it would be swell (I’m bringing back this much maligned word), making my answer a very easy ‘yes’! Obviously, the one thing Waitrose has in bucket-loads is style … make that laid back, 100% British class – but I wasn’t fully expecting the bells and whistles shindig they hosted in the grounds of the stunningly beautiful Leckford Estate. Did you know they’re the only supermarket in the UK that has their own farm? Nope, neither did I.
Seasonality was at the heart of the event with a to-die-for menu created especially for the mostly vegan/plant-based guests who ranged from The Little Plantation (stylist extraordinaire) to ‘Ballet Blast’ Beauty Naturally Sassy and the smoothie-bowl queen herself Alpha Foodie. After a guided tour through the nursery we entered into something of a magical fairyland complete with grounds that would make you weep … if you ever get the chance you must take a stroll through the water garden, it is beyond breathtaking and I could quite happily have spent the day there. Already feeling pretty zen we made our way to the teepee the organisers had erected near the lake – it’s always best to err on the side of caution in England and lo it did actually rain momentarily before the sun came out and the temperature soared. Hurrah!
Sipping on apple juice and crunching on probably the best vegan arancini I’ve sampled, us bloggers mingled and chatted, oohed and aahed, at well, pretty much everything. Glancing over the menu (p.s. all recipes are on the Waitrose site I believe), I was so impressed with the thought and precision that had gone into our super elegant lunch (huge shout-out to Waitrose Cookery School) … from the courgette fritters to the roasted cauliflower (with insanely yummy maple granola) and especially (oh, especially) the dessert options … three no-less if you count the apple crisp palette cleanser, crazy delicious lemon jelly and a coconut panna cotta I can only describe as akin to eating a cloud. All of it lush. All of it seasonal. I was a very happy vegan indeed.
Having not consumed alcohol for the best part of a month, I really savoured the chilled white ‘sauvignon blanc-esque’ wine they served, as well as the sweet dessert wine, which had some unusual bitter notes too … a little reminiscent of aperol, which is totally up my street. The alcohol on offer was British made and, of course, 100% vegan, so I felt it would’ve been churlish not to indulge somewhat;)
The purpose of us being there? Well, apart from having a lovely afternoon, we got to see firsthand the passion that goes into the produce on offer at Waitrose under the hashtag #WaitroseAtSource. It’s no news to me that the quality is some of the best you’ll find in the UK but I was still amazed at the obsessive care that goes into growing it. Whether it’s the tonnes of mushrooms that are produced directly on the estate each year to the vineyard that supplies the grapes for the wine, all of it echoed the sentiments of the team who talked enthusiastically about the estate and also working for Waitrose. It was an education to say the least.
After all that eating, drinking and chatting, the only way to rightly bookend a very British garden party is to indulge in a little flower arranging – am I right? Off we trotted down to an abundant flower display where we chose our favourite blooms, which were then transformed them into a beautiful bouquet … I’m not saying I may have required a little more ‘flower arranging’ help than most but I definitely required more help than most, ahem. Suffice to say it was a dreamy end to a dreamy day, and has certainly got my summer off to swell (there’s that word again!) start. Now if only I can recreate the same mood in my teeny soulless courtyard out the back … well, God does love a trier!
*this is a sponsored post but all words and thoughts are 100% heartfelt xxx