After driving through a maze of country lanes, I arrive at the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens. It is a gloriously sunny day and I enter the visitor’s centre, a chic contemporary glass structure.

I take a seat outside the café and sip my cappuccino overlooking the bright Sculpture gardens. The Family Group in bronze stands before me. I stare into it contemplating how Moore has captured the essence of being a family unit and celebrating the stability that it can provide.

I step into the gardens, and walk by an orchard abundant with ripe apples, its leaves casting a dappled sunlight onto the grass. As I approach The Double Oval sculpture I soon realize that it’s only when I walk around these sculptures that they truly come to life; each angle offers a fresh perspective and there is an inherent dynamism within each seemingly static and bulky design.

I enter the Yellow brick studio, a workshop space with uncut raw stone, wood, bronze, marble and all sorts of tools, like mallets and chisels, where I can imagine Moore getting covered in dust as he carved with intensity.

This leads to the Maquette Studio, I’m fascinated to learn that Moore didn’t draw his designs, but made maquettes based on various everyday natural objects like flint or bone. These sensorial organic forms would ignite his interest and he’d add to them with clay, cast them in plaster and later use them as a base for his full-scale statues.

Further along, is a sixteenth century reconstructed barn. Inside are some huge tapestries hung on the walls based on Moore’s drawings; they show how his trips to Mexico and Athens influenced him. The knowledgeable guide explains Moore’s aversion to polished classical monuments and his interest in draping often used in Greco-Roman figures.

Finally I head to a current exhibition entitled: Becoming Henry Moore tracing his path as a young sculptor. I can see his early work exhibited alongside indigenous and ancient statues and how artists like Picasso and Modigliani inspired him.

The presentation of Moore’s Modernist artwork is perfectly laid out here and I leave feeling a sense of awe at this sculptor’s legacy, amazed by his innovation with abstract form, and enchanted by the delicacy and aesthetic sensibility that infuse these monumental statues.

We head to The Green kitchen for lunch. As we enter, the smell of homemade food and the warmth from the kitchen gives it a homely feel; we’re greeted with a smile, given a menu and asked to take a seat.

The walls are painted in soft green and framed wildlife illustrations hang in two neat rows along the back wall. I peer passed the cappuccino machine into the open kitchen; it is arranged with stainless steel shelves packed with utensils, food containers and fresh fruit and veg. Two display fridges by the till are crammed with wholemeal products like veggie burgers, natural yoghurts and juices. Beside them are healthier snack options such as Chickpea puffs and Vego bars.

We start chatting with the friendly waitress and order falafels and hoummous with pitta bread, carrot, pepper and cucumber sticks on the side. I look out of the window; it’s one of those perfect October days, gentle winds and leaves falling. I sip mint tea wondering why there aren’t more vegetarian cafes around. I’ve heard people say that the vegetarian diet is limited, but when I think of dishes like tagines, stir fries and vegetable curries, I have to disagree.

By cutting down on meat and trying vegetarian dishes, we enrich our culinary experiences and discover other cultures. The waitress tells us about their monthly themed dinner evenings. The next one is a Nepalese buffet. I get it booked and look forward to trying some Newa cuisine.

Our lunch arrives. The bread is warm and it’s such a pleasure to see the real colour and consistency that hoummous should be. I can taste the subtle combination of garlic, chickpea and tahini. It’s authentic home made food and I feel full after eating it. For dessert, I bite into a carrot and walnut muffin. The crunchy walnut complements the rich carrot and cinnamon flavours perfectly.

I’ve lost count of the steak restaurants my husband has made me dine in over the years, so I’m enjoying seeing him sitting there out of his depth and subjecting him to a strictly vegetarian lunch. It’s time to expand his horizons a little; he needs to learn that there is life beyond meat n’ potatoes!

Later that evening I ask, “What’s for dinner tonight?”

“I’m making us Steak Diane…” he smiles. “…with plenty of veggies on the side!”

He doesn’t appear to be joking. I give up!

One of the first things I noticed when I moved to St. Albans was that it was a wonderful mix of city and country life. One minute I could be shopping in the town centre, the next I could be on a country walk breathing in the clean air! I’m getting that feeling now as I walk into Notcutts Garden Centre.  I love to slow down and linger on these outdoor garden spaces, surrounded by blushing pink hydrangeas and the fruit of the crab apple tree.

Celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, it was founded in the 1880s by Roger Crompton Notcutt who started out purely as an amateur gardener; however, by 1914 Notcutts nursery had won its first gold medal for its Azalea garden at Chelsea.

I pick up a basket and see a mass of pink shrubs displayed on a round table. The quiet sun diffuses along the tops of their thick foliage. I step closer, pick one up and take in the aromatic scent of its leaves. The assistant smiles as he sees me analyzing it, then tells me that they’re called “skimmias” are quite hardy and can often even survive when neglected. As I don’t have green fingers, they sound perfect and I put one in my basket!

The gravel crunches at my footsteps as I pass by traditional clay chimeneas and terracotta pots; further along, thick logs are stacked in an attractive pyramid log store alongside kindling wood and sacks of compost piled high.

I step under a pergola arch covered with white climbing roses then wind along a path leading to the water features. The trickling fountain designs are mostly contemporary; my favourites are the geometric spheres and cubes with built in LED lighting. I pause; it feels meditative listening to the cascading waters.

Further along the path I spot Calla lily plants and put one in my basket. Their elegant cone shape, depth of purple colour, and lush green leaves will contrast dramatically beside the pink and white roses on my garden table at home.

I walk on, drifts of brown leaves at my feet, listening to the birdsong cutting through the cool October air; feeling relaxed I head inside to get my hands dirty and pick some loose tulip bulbs for my garden.

We’re welcomed into the De Havilland aviation museum by a volunteer who explains proudly that their collection has the only three WWII Mosquito aircraft in the country. I notice a group of retired gentlemen chatting and laughing in the cafe; he tells us that the BBC is here today interviewing some veterans.

The museum, established in 1959, was the first of its type to open to the public and is dedicated to preserving and communicating De Havilland’s contribution to innovation in British aviation technology.

We step into the field and there before our very eyes is a collection of full sized jet airplanes! I stumble upon the world famous “Comet 2R” built in the early fifties. Only its nose and front fuselage have survived; I stand in front of it and take in the clean curvature of its shape designed for maximum velocity.

I walk on, turn a corner and discover a wooden WWII Mosquito light fighter plane, a prototype. Its first flight was in November 1940, piloted by Geoffrey de Havilland himself. I stand under a wing looking up, trying to fathom how this aircraft ever got off the ground!

I am approached by a volunteer who is amused by my puzzled expression; like many of the volunteers, he is a retired pilot and very knowledgeable; he leads the way into the hangar and shows me a type of flexible lightweight wood used to make part of the wings.

Inside, dedicated volunteers surrounded by historic exhibits of photos and memorabilia

walk around carrying tools and components, quietly working to restore various aircraft.

The volunteer then shows me another fighter plane and invites me to climb into the cockpit of the Sea Vixen built in 1960; I sit there in silence, listening to him as I gaze in awe at the many dials measuring air pressure, speed, fuel and altitude covered by a web of connecting wires; I marvel at the advanced capacity of the human brain able to design these feats of aeronautical engineering. I love the sound of the technical words that he reels off like “tail booms” and “transonic flight.”

By the time we leave, I’m all smiles and tell my husband that I feel raring to go.

“Go where?” he questions.

On my first pilot lesson of course!”

“Not another one of your crazy ideas!” He smiles.