On a family holiday to London last month, we decided to try a fun activity for kids with a difference – Strawberry picking. After much deliberation about where to go, we decided to go to a popular strawberry picking farm recommended by many friends – #Garsons picking farm in Esher in London (https://www.garsons.co.uk)
Brief history of the Garsons Farm
A heritage business, the origins of the Garsons Picking Farm go all the way back to 1871. George Henry, the second son of Mary Thompson, farming in Hersham, took the opportunity to move to West End Village in 1871, starting the business as is now known as Garsons.
The mixed farm gradually specialised in vegetable production, selling to greengrocers through the Borough Market by London Bridge. Following 100 years of successful marketing to London greengrocers the 1970’s heralded the rise of the Supermarkets and a great change in food marketing. Garson Farm was left out in the rush to procure cheap food from international suppliers. The family’s response to this was to produce a broader range of fruit and vegetables for the closest of customers and sell it all retail. Hence the horticultural business you see today after nearly 30 years of Pick Your Own.
(*picture and info courtesy Garsons website)
Our day at the Farm
We left in the morning for our picking adventure to ensure we had ample time to check out the farm at leisure. Our self-drive to Garsons Farm from London was about an hour and 45 minutes and we reached the farm to find a whole lot of people already present picking through the ‘fields’. On reaching the farm, we also realised that the farm offered many different “fields’ with different vegetables and fruits to choose from. Our favourites turned out to be potatoes (Indians love potatoes), corns, blueberries and strawberries and we started with corn and other vegetable fields. Fortunately, the weather was lovely and supported us with cool breeze and dark clouds and made the picking activity quite enjoyable.
We started with the corn and potato fields and enjoyed picking through the tall corn plants and digging the ground to look for potatoes.
Niece enjoying picking at the Farm
How it works
Entry to the farm is free and bringing your own car is the best way to go around the farm. Once you have picked the fruits or vegetables you need, you can make payment at the Payment Counters located next to each field. Eating fruits or vegetables is not allowed and you can carry your own bags for the pickings, though you are provided with baskets in fruits and berries sections. All cars are checked at exit and therefore hiding strawberries is also not allowed
Our favourite section at the Farm – Strawberry Picking
Finally, recapping the post with pictures of the field that we loved the most – Strawberry Field. As far as you could see, it was strawberries and strawberries all over. Kids in the family enjoyed this section the most and collected baskets and baskets of strawberries. Hope you enjoyed reading this post and do try and visit Garsons whenever traveling to London.
Till then, Cheers and keep traveling,
Standing tall and majestic, the Jaisalmer Fort needs no introduction to the world – a UNESCO declared World Heritage Site and one of the largest forts in the world, the Jaisalmer Fort, also holds the unique distinction of being the ONLY LIVING FORT in the world – a distinction that remains unparalleled for this magnificent monument till date.
Built in 1156 AD by Rajput ruler, Rawal Jaisal, the Jaisalmer Fort is home today to over 3000 people who have been ‘living’ in the fort for generations. Granted residence by the ruler (and his subsequent generations), these people continue to live on and have blossomed their little world into a small town with shops, food stalls and markets.
Earlier this year, I got a chance to visit the fort and was in complete awe of the grandeur of the fort and the simplicity of people living inside who took great pains to ensure they did not cause any damage to the fort. Here’s a photo-tour of my walk through the fort and what can you expect on your visit:
Entrance to the fort:
Entrance to the fort is through the fort gateway. A well-built tarmac road leads you all the way to the fort gate and you can reach the gate either by tempos (autos) or by your own vehicle. Tempos and tourist vehicles are not allowed inside the fort to avoid congestion and the only exception is for handicap persons.
The walk from the fort entrance to main fort complex is about 20 minutes. It’s a slightly uphill climb and elderly persons may need help or take adequate breaks. The walkway is lined up with handicraft shops and makes the climb less tiresome.
Main fort complex:
The main complex at the fort is a large square bustling with tourist and local people and is full of handicraft and tea /coffee shops – a perfect to take a quick break after the long, uphill walk. The main complex also has a post office and local police post for any assistance. Note: Guides are also available here (and at fort entrance), so do check out if you feel the fort may be difficult for you to navigate.
Local handicraft stalls in main complex
Walking in the by-lanes of the fort:
The ‘city’ part of the fort is quite amazing and a photographer’s delight. Preserved in its old time glory, the beautiful heritage structure of the fort is impressive and it’s a treat to watch how the locals have adjusted and built their homes within the original structure of the fort.
Markets and handicraft stalls inside the fort:
Apart from the lovely homes, it is a delight to walk through the streets and explore the local markets and handicraft stalls set up by locals – from food, to train bookings (!) to wooden and art pieces – the fort offers great local shopping opportunity too. There are no separate market sections and hence one has to keep a lookout for these little shops.
A local market inside the fort (notice train booking window in the picture!)
Bird’s eye view of the beautiful city of Jaisalmer (from fort rooftop):
The greatest attraction of the fort is its magnificent bird’s eye view of the Jaisalmer city and is a must see. An old canon at fort rooftop reminds you of the days gone by when the fort stood tall and strong protecting the city – it’s a great view and a small café at the fort rooftop is a lovely place to have a cup of tea before heading back.
Things to keep in mind while visiting the fort:
- Open: All days (but good to check with local hotel/ guide for public holidays)
- Entrance fee: Rs 250 INR for International visitors; Rs 50 Indian adult
- Address: Fort Rd, Khejer Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan 345001
- Dress/footwear: It can be sunny and hot so good to carry water, wear hat, full sleeves and wear flat shoes for the long walk to fort entrance. Good to keep additional money for shopping inside the fort.