From the kids were born, until March 2003 when the Kibble closed for restoration, we spent some time inside the glass house most weekends - we had picnics in it, or coffee or walked round the plants sheltering from the weather, or we even just dropped in the say hi to the goldfish.
Although I have missed it dreadfully, as it was closed only 45 months out of the 467 I have been alive, it didn't seem like a terribly long time. To my kids though it has been closed nearly or in Charlotte's case more than half their life. It was interesting to see the mixture of recognition and newness rolled into one as they entered it.
The first thing that I noticed when I entered was the missing tree fern in the middle of the fish pond. I could see a shape deep down in the water, so hope it is lurking down there ready to re-grow.
In the main part of the glass house there were many beautiful tree ferns, and all the familiar squirrel-sided benches around the perimeter for you to sit and read or picnic. The marble statues shone white in the winter sun. It was great to be back.
It did feel a tiny bit too bare though. In the old days it felt wild and overgrown with ferns pushing against the ceiling and branches overhanging the paths. It was so neat and tidy today. I will be wandering around it, probably on a weekly basis from now on but I will secretly be longing for it to get a wee bit wilder and messier. It'll be great once you can't see for the plants again and the smell of damp fern fills your nose as soon as you enter!