Back in June, Pete, mum and I spent two days exploring the BBC Good Food Show and the BBC Gardeners' World Live Show at the NEC. Buying a ticket for one automatically gives you entry into the other, which makes it a great value day out as there is plenty to cover in both shows.
I found the food show a little disappointing this year. It seemed smaller than when I visited in June last year, and there were fewer interesting artisanal producers than I remembered.
The gardening show was much more interesting, though it was the outdoor attractions that we enjoyed. Indoors were rows upon rows of stalls, a surprisingly large number of which had nothing to do with gardening (such as ironing boards, fashion clothing, health products, toiletries, paintings and greeting cards).
Outdoors we found many stalls selling garden implements, outdoor furniture, gardening wear, plants, those fantastic shade sails that I dreamed of for our back garden before we scrapped the trendy outdoor room make-over and converted it into a kitchen garden instead. And of course, a selection of show gardens too.
We could also have attended the many talks given by TV gardening personalities and experts, though we didn't do so well on getting to those.
The best bit for all of us was the RHS Floral Marquee – a cavernous tent with stand after stand after stand of stunning plants. Just as you'd find at the big RHS shows, the stall holders not only displayed their wares but competed on creating the most beautiful displays, competing for the coveted RHS awards.
Of these, my absolute favourite was the nostalgic wooden greenhouse and shed by Pennard Plants. My photos don't do it justice, especially the greenhouse, with great planting inside and in borders all around the outside too. The smiling faces of Pennard Plants staff were a welcome sight too!
Kavey Eats, A London Gardener and Mamta's Kitchen attended as guests of BBC Haymarket Exhibitions.