When I went to Osborne House Gardens last year for the May Day Bank Holiday it was a bit of a wet and wild day. In fact a typical British Bank Holiday! What a difference a year makes as the country basked in the hottest May Day Bank Holiday since it was created 40 years ago.
We started off by going down to the beach at Osborne. This was Queen Victoria's private beach and for many years was closed to the public even though the rest of the estate was open.
The walk down is very pleasant and goes through shady woodland. At the moment there is an abundance of English bluebells gently nodding in the light breeze.
With streams running into the sea and the tree canopy the dampness encourages the spread of wild garlic.
The grass verges are also home to a number of orchids. This one is the common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)
Halfway between the beach and the house is the Swiss Cottage and its adjoining plots. Prince Albert encouraged his children to have both an academic and practical education. Each child had their own monogrammed gardening tools and plot to work on.
Outside the Swiss Cottage is a large spruce. Of course Prince Albert was famous for popularising Christmas trees in Britain but I couldn't tell when this one dated from.
Prince Albert designed Osborne House in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo. He said the view across the Solent reminded him of the Bay of Naples. Today Portsmouth and the Spinnaker can still be still seen clearly from the terrace.
On such a glorious day such scenes could easily be mistaken for Italy rather than England.
It's no surprise that Queen Victoria liked to come to Osborne for her birthday in May and return year after year – just like us.