Next week Kitty goes back to school. It’s been a great Easter holiday but for me a funny holiday too in some respects. I had enough holiday left at the end of last year that my Christmas holiday matched Kitty’s exactly which was wonderful and lovely in so many ways, and so this was the first proper holiday where she’s been at home but I haven’t. I loved that on my working from home days I got to have lunch with the whole family, and even just hearing their giggles and racket as they ran around in the background, and being able to nip out of the studio for hugs when I went for a drink has me blessing the power of modern technology ten times over. But even having done everything within my power to be as present as possible, I still got to the end of the week with a little bit of a feeling as if I’d missed out on some of the fun, which I admit may possibly have been brought on a little by seeing how much fun they all had exploring the new Cass Art in Birmingham without me. So when H headed out of the door quite ridiculously early on Saturday morning leaving us golf orphans and widow, we decided to find a little fun of our own.
And with a brief detour to the supermarket for the only pair of wellies which they had in Elma’s size, which fortunately came with Cinderella all over them and therefore are her favourite shoes ever ever ever, we headed to one of our happy places, Charlecote Park.
When I was on maternity leave, and before H had resigned from work, we used to come here all the time. If the children were being fractious, if I’d just run out of ideas of what to do or where to go, if it was raining, if it was Thursday; we’d head to Charlecote. It is actually entirely possible that I have on more than one occasion turned up well before they opened because by 9.30 in the morning it was apparent that we all needed to get out of the house. But this time it wasn’t driven by cabin fever so much as wanting to go back to somewhere we all love.
We started under grey skies, walking out across the park to where the deer had set up camp for the day, already attracting an admiring crowd of fans and a few tripods and humongous lenses. Elma has a pair of pink Hatley pyjamas covered with deer that I think are possibly the cutest things ever (they’re these ones) so she was fascinated by watching actual real life deer, she kept telling me:
“they’re like my pyjamas! but they move!”
We wandered along, going at whatever pace the girls fancied; sitting for a while in the bird hide to see if we could spot anything interesting, and mostly seeing the ducks, I think we were too noisy for anything else. Kitty suggested a game of Pooh Sticks off the bridge and thanks to all the recent rain the stream was high enough and flowing fast enough to manage a gentle game – we have a history of playing Pooh Sticks off that bridge and having to give up because the stream is going very slowly one way and the prevailing wind is blowing hard the other way and everything just stops dead in the water – but yesterday Mama won, Kitty and Elma came joint second and Pip brought up the rear, which was pretty impressive given I dropped Pip’s and my own at the same time.
If my daughters grow up to be serious experts on 18th century carriages I’ll know it’s because of their obsession with the Charlecote “Cinderella carriages”; the girls could happily spend hours in the carriage displays talking about which carriage is which and who would have driven them, and which one they’d have for which particular journey. I tried to break it to them gently that, at least from my side of the family, as their great-great-great-aunt Nance was a ladies’ maid and their great-great-great-grandfather was a butler, they’d have been far more likely to be clinging to the roof seats or sat with the driver than ever inside but they promised me solemnly that they’d hold on tightly.
Hungry tummies finally propelled us in the direction of the cafe, and we sat outside in the gorgeous sunshine, munching away and laughing and talking and people watching, and although we knew H was home from golf no one was in any hurry to head back. So we explored a bit further, ran down gravel paths lined with flower beds bursting with daffodils and all the signs of spring. Out in the park there are a few old trees that have fallen but been left as the perfect sort of natural climbing frame, and all three little ones headed for the nearest one at speed. And when they’d had enough of climbing the girls spread their waterproofs on the grass and we all just sat in the sunshine; Elma snuggled up under one arm, Kitty laid with her head in my lap, and Pip nearby digging up a molehill with his fingers And it was as we sat that I had one of those moments where life is just so unbelievably utterly perfect in its contented ordinariness that I never wanted it to end.
Even though the children are all older, and in Pip’s case, much more mobile, and even though I’ve been back at work six months, it was as if it had all fallen away and we were back where we were last summer. My little gang of four, back in the rhythm of the days when we didn’t have deadlines and school runs and there was no pressure to do anything or be anywhere, we could just be who we were and where we were. And perhaps it’s that that I miss; the peace at the centre of our family, when time is immaterial and nothing else matters but that here and now.
Whatever the magic, it was so good to capture it again, even if on Monday morning I need to pull on a suit and head off for the train, and the perfect way to mark the end of the Easter holidays, with a little Mama time when time stood still.
Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments
And yes, I’m still asking, I promise the nominations round ends soon and then I’ll stop, but if you do have a minute over the weekend I would love a nomination in the MADs and the BiBs blogging awards for writer, craft, or family/school days (all the details are here). I realised when it came to the Food category that I don’t actually read too many food blogs so if you have anyone you’re championing please shout it out in the comments; my choices, if only I could pick all of them, would be Lets Talk Mommy, Taming Twins or Jam and Clotted Cream (even if as a Devonian I keep wanting to call it Clotted Cream and Jam!).