Celebrating the Winter Solstice with the illuminations at Abbotsbury Gardens

It’s the Winter Solstice today – the Shortest Day.

I was before the sunrise but it was disappointing in the grey gloom. Never mind, I’ll go up the hill with Ruby another day.

With just days before Christmas, I took the opportunity last night to visit Abbotsbury Gardens while they’re still illuminated. The event, which runs until 23 December, is now sold out.

This magical, annual happening sees this subtropical paradise subtly floodlit from the ground, turning the landscape into something from a fantasy film or a magic mushroom trip.

I didn’t take Ruby, I left her home in the warm, although plenty of other people took their dogs. She’s such a puller on the lead, I wanted to enjoy the lights at a leisurely pace and soak up the atmosphere.

So I took Mr Grigg and the littlest granddaughter instead who, at eight years old, believes in magic as much as I do.

Having booked our tickets in advance, we headed along the coast road between Bridport and Abbotsbury. In the light, this is one of the most beautiful routes I know. But it was dark and the first bit of beauty hit us when we descended the steep Abbotsbury Hill and glimpsed pink and fluorescent green trees in the valley below.

Car parking spaces were at a premium – it seems everyone else had the same idea – but once we were inside we just followed the trail and gazed at the wonderland around us, the birds gaily trilling as if they didn’t know their Christmas from their Easter.

Just magical.

Enjoy your Christmas, wherever you are.

That’s about it.

Love, Maddie x

By Maddie Grigg

Maddie Grigg is the pen name of former local newspaper editor Margery Hookings. Expect reflections on rural life, community, landscape, underdogs, heritage and folklore. And fun.

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