Today I woke to some lovely sunshine, a rare treat so far this winter. I’m writing up all the little adventures I had last year, and looking back at my diary I realized the next one in line also happened on a lovely sunny day, in fact it was an idyllic day.
The day after I came home from the Wilderness Gathering in August I took my two kids and one of their friends to the local National Trust property, The Vyne in Hampshire. The house itself is beautiful but the grounds and woodland are my real playground. They have a kids’ play area built around the theme of a Hobbit house with none of the usual swings or slides but plenty of cranes, water, stones, wood and sand to get stuck into.
I sometimes get so caught up with what I am focussed on when studying bushcraft that I lose site of the wonder of everything else. My kids remind me of this when they are out and about exploring and discovering new things.
I have walked past this tree a couple of times with my eyes down on the lookout for a new flower to photograph but when the kids look at it they see a magical figure with hairy nostrils. If you look at the tree from their angle (and I did) you can easily imagine this.
To my son this ditch is a world of wonder: I just see the plants on the side but he see trolls under the bridge. It was here that I started to remember all the bridges I had crawled under as a kid in search of those damned elusive trolls. It was a fun time though a bit wet and even though my mother would scold me I would always find another bridge.
The National Trust have built this excellent play area but all Finlay wanted to do was collect as many sticks as possible and build a shelter. This need to build something out of a pile of sticks must be imprinted somewhere in our brains and I guess for many people that need is erased as they grow up: thankfully for me that has never happened.
While Finlay was off building, Catherine was in the sand pit patting it all flat. I like to think she was creating a sand pit trap (to collect tracks) as she has done this before but I think she was just dreamily making shapes. I really like my daughter’s artistic side and it is nice sometimes to just sit and watch where her imagination takes her.
We spent a bit of time around the pond where the kids lay down beside the edge and waited for the carp and ducklings to come a-calling. The kids asked if a carp would eat a duckling. I have no idea. I just told them that the carp were kept well fed so as to leave the ducklings alone (sometimes you just have to sound confident).
I like this pond as the dragonflies put on quite a show of acrobatics. We spent a good half hour just watching what was happening here. I do not normally get that length of time for an activity like this but since Mother Nature was being kind and always up to something here the kids (and I ) were kept enthralled.
Sometimes you can be wandering through the woods trying to keep the kids occupied and what you see just stumps you – No way could I beat these guys sending kids up and down the tree like yoyos. Next year I want to get the kids on this activity (that includes me of course).
Idyllic days require some fancy food – Catherine took the bottom picture just before we went home 🙂
A final stroll in the woods to end a perfect day.