Despite its suburban, lilac setting and natural beauty, this floral fable commences with a cupcake. The late 90s saw a resurgence in popularity of these sweet treats, which had once been associated with housewives and grandmas. And my palate became rapturously involved. When a friend baked me a batch of lavender flavoured cupcakes, my interpretation of this flower went from indifferent to truly in favour. Pumpkin went as far as to judge me as being lavender-obsessed.I’ve never been to Provence, the idyllic countryside region in France famed for its stretches of lavender fields but as soon as I found out that Mayfield was just an hour’s drive from home, I knew I had to spare a Saturday in the summer to soak up these lustrous purple planes.
The Mayfield Lavender Fields
In the leafy village of Banstead, just a stone’s throw away from Croydon in South London, the fields are open to visitors daily between June and September whilst the flower is in bloom. I had barely put my foot out of the car door when the distinctive, all-pervasive fragrance made itself known to us.
It was difficult resisting the urge to dive straight into the swathes of purple. The stinging nettles tried to curtail my careless enthusiasm but I could not be dissuaded.
And so we meandered between the potently scented, linear boulevards, vying for space with the fuzzy but un-intrusive bees. It’s difficult not to regress into a childhood version of yourself here – we leaped above the colour and lay in the aromatic gap between bushes; we sniffed the powdery flowers and snapped away clumsily, trying to outdo each other’s pictures.
And when we were hungry (alright, we weren’t actually even that hungry,) we rewarded our silliness with a lavender cream tea, complete with lavender scones, cake and even lavender tea and bought some take away bags of the irresistibly, pocket sized bites of flapjack, shortbread and coconut ice. If you aren’t as much of a glutton then I am, then you might be investing your pennies in lower calorie souvenirs, such as essential oils, soaps and hand creams.
Contrary to popular belief, exciting London days out don’t always break the bank and after spending nearly half my life in this city, I’m always delighted to find ones that don’t. For just a few pounds each and a short drive from London, this is a perfect spot to beat the summer holiday dilemmas with the kids, to enjoy a stroll with the dog, to impress that new special someone with a quirky and romantic first date or just for those of us Londoners, who are constantly on the lookout for something new and unique.
- Entrance is free and the fields are open between 9.30am – 4pm (longer opening hours earlier in the summer)
- Parking is £2,which is redeemable against purchases in the shop or café of more than £5
- Toilet and café facilities are present
- The fields are most easily reached by car and there is ample parking but the fields can be reached by train to West Croydon and then a bus ride – more details here.