:: DAY 3 ::
Weather report ~ cloudless, deep blue sky. Unbelievably hot, 92°F.
In England we never, ever expect good weather to last more than a few days, it just isn't the way of it on this quirky little island. So when we start creeping in to day three of a good-weather-run and the sky still looks that clear and blue, well, it's cause for celebration.
Day 3 started out slow and leisurely with breakfast in the garden and not a lot in the way of plans. Sometime around mid morning we managed to venture out and walk the mile into town to do a little light shopping. I love Bridport town, well it is my true Home Town after all, and my heart is held there in those wide and friendly streets. We made our regular trip to the toy shop to let the Little People loose with a bit of spending money, and I made an emergency purchase of a pair of shorts (I hadn't anticipated scorching heat when I packed).
Mid afternoon we drove down the green leafy lanes to visit my Mum at her lovely cottage.
It's always a pleasure to while away the hours here, but it was especially lovely to loll about in the heat of a hot summers afternoon, chatting and catching up with news. I sat on a bench right under this glorious tangle of nasturtiums and soaked up the sun like a cat.
After a huge number of years (3o? 40?) my Mum decided to give up her allotment this year, finding it easier to grow a smaller number of vegetables in her own garden. I really enjoy seeing vegetables growing in amongst flowers in a garden, and I thought these peas looked so pretty with the sunshine lighting up the pods.
It was deliciously shady beside the river, so I moved my butt here when the sun got too much over by the nasturtiums. The river rose up and burst it's banks a few weeks ago, hard to imagine when it usually looks so shallow and tranquil. As a result of the flooding, quite a bit of debris had been washed down, so we sent Little Man in to hunt for River Treasure. He found an old tin plate, and several pieces of broken crockery, it was all quite exciting.
I think Mum finds me a little bit odd wandering round her garden taking pictures, but she humours me well enough. I told her how picture-perfect this little scene was (she nodded, but I could tell she really didn't get it)....I absolutely love this new/old table which has only recently arrived (Mum said she rescued it when it was being thrown out by neighbours). It looks like it has been here forever, don't you think?
Ahhhhhhh, what a sight! Mum had told us that as a treat she was going to give us a proper Afternoon Tea, oh it was sooooo lovely! She had obviously gone to tremendous effort, making individual chocolate puddings for the Little People, as well as proper homemade individual trifles. There were dainty cucumber sandwiches (of course!), warm quiche and the most delicious homemade scones served with farmhouse butter, clotted cream and strawberry jam.
Oh my. It was utterly scrumptious. We settled down to eat around 4pm and we all enjoyed it so much! Honestly, the Little People thought it incredible that they were actually allowed to eat chocolate pudding, trifle and jammy scones in place of a proper dinner, so sweet to witness their delight. It made me think that I should most definitely try and do something similar at home one weekend, although the sheer number of calories involved in such nosh would be mind blowing I suspect.
We left my Mum's around 7.30pm and decided that the weather was just too glorious to go straight home. So we headed up to one of our most favourite High Places, Egardon Hill.
It was still very warm, and it felt wonderful to be out amongst such beautiful landscape at this time of day. It's a time of golden light and long shadows. We are lucky in that Little B is a very easy going boy, and so long as he still manages an afternoon nap he is quite able to cope with late nights when his bedtime routine disappears.
These young bullocks were in the field that we usually walk across and they were obviously feeling a tad grumpy after a day of hot sun on their backs. They scuffed their hooves on the ground and ran about barging into each other in an alarming and unpredictable way that said "don't even think about setting foot in this field or we'll make you sorry!" Fine, Okeee-dokeee, we will walk the long way around the field, no problem. Byyeeeeee! Couldn't wait to get away from them, I am obviously still suffering from trauma following a Nasty Cow Incident in my childhood.
Egardon Hill is so magical, especially on a Summer's evening when the light and shadows dance across the expanse of hillside.
We weren't up here to do anything much, we just felt like we wanted to enjoy being outdoors and high up. So we spread out a blanket, settled down on the ridge and cracked open an ice cold beer. Perfect.
I took myself off for a little wander....
...and breathed in the landscape as the sun made it's descent.
It was stunningly beautiful and so perfectly Summerish.
The moon was out and the sky slowly turned from blue to pink as we meandered back along the footpath.
By the time we reached the car, the sky was on fire. Even the Little People seemed wowed by the beauty of nature. Another glorious end to a wonderful summer's day.
:: DAY 4 ::
Weather report ~ cloudless, deep blue sky (again). Amazingly hot, 94°F.
Day 4 and it was time for the second installment of our Abbotsbury trio :: The Children's Farm. We packed a picnic, smothered ourselves in sunscreen and set off to prepare for a hot day of child-orientated activity.
This was our first visit to the farm, and it did not disappoint. The location is absolutely idyllic, a slice of rural English heaven, and there was huge excitement as we walked down the steep path from the car. We knew from the website a little of what was in store and it's hard to say what the Little People were most excited about :: the animals or the play opportunities.
We started out by working our way around the play opportunities. That's the Hay Bale Mountain, and I'll leave it to your imagination what my three Littlies did there. It was vigorous.
This is the Tractor Racing Arena. Oh such great fun was had here, especially by Little B who is obsessed with tractors and has studied them at length in his many tractor publications. He was beaming from ear to ear as he drove round and round and round. It was seriously hot here in the full sun of mid morning, so after a little while we went in search of some shade.....
.....and discovered this sweet little grassy area in front of the Barn, full of boingy-bouncy cows! J and I sat down on the cool grass with our backs leant against the ancient stone walls and watched our bouncing offspring...the cows were the perfect size for Little B, and there were some giant Spacehoppers for the older children, it provided lots of entertainment I have to say.
There was other play equipment too...some amazing "swinging scales" which were a cross between a see-saw and a swing, and a very imaginative climbing frame set in a large sandpit with scoops and shutes for playing with the sand. It was all pretty cool, but what about the animals??
This was the first animal we saw when entering the barn, isn't he a beauty? He's a red alpaca (recently de-woolled except for his top-knot) and I really fell in love with him. Think it's the first time I've ever been up close to an alpaca and I was just transfixed by his curious face. He looked so comical but so serious all at the same time. The barn also contained some large billy goats and dinky-cute shetland ponies.
The next barn we went into contained these adorable little critters. Dozens and dozens of them, well eighty to be precise. The lady in charge of the guinea pigs was absolutely incredible, she seemed to recognise and know every single one of these animals and called them all by name. They came in all shapes and sizes, and the Little People were instantly enchanted by them. She invited them to sit on chairs, then she selected the right guinea pig for each of them, it was soooo sweet! Little Lady held a lovely smooth black guinea called Smudge, Little Man was given quite a hefty piggy called Badger, and Little B had this little white cutey called Snowy. A few carrot sticks and everyone was more than happy. It really was a lovely experience, especially for a pet-less family such as ours (and yes, the pleas for some Attic24 furry residents have been coming in thick and fast).
After the cute snugliness of the guinea pigs, we moved on to look at the proper piggy-pigs (huge, fat and sleeping) and the ponies (even more huge and most certainly not sleeping). The farm has a great structured program of events, so we knew exactly what time the ponies would be brought out of their stables for the riding to begin. Little Lady was sooooooo excited for this, she was absolutely hopping from foot to foot at the mere thought of sitting on a real live actual pony. She love love loved her pony ride and I was so happy for her, she was a complete joy to watch.
The very best bit of our visit to the farm came towards the end of our time there, and was all about the goats. Not the big shaggy Billy goats, but these cute little white ones. Fifteen of them in total, we got to watch as they were each dressed up in a little jacket and led out into the yard to meet us. There was to be a race! How thrilling! Each goat was numbered and named, and we were asked to pick a potential winner. We picked number 7, called Billy The Kid, oh we so wanted our goat to win! The race was fast and furious and we shouted loudly for number 7, but sadly it wasn't his lucky day. However, all that paled into insignificance when the race came to a close and we got to feed a bottle of milk to one of the thirsty runners.
Not only that, but we then got to take a goat for a warm down walk and a munch of fresh grass, gosh, even I was quite excited at the prospect of goat walking!
Our goat was hungry and head strong, but we loved him for that. Little B was especially enamoured with the whole goat thing, he really enjoyed them, well he seemed to enjoy the whole day actually. We all did.
In the late afternoon it was still very, very hot indeed and we were all a little weary from spending so many hours outside under that relentless sun. Luckily we were being looked after by Lady B who had chilled wine and a lush green garden on offer and had promised to rustle us up some nosh.
It was such a pleasure to eat almost all our meals outside last week, it's one of those little things that always makes my heart soar. Lady B put together one of my all time favourite meals...crusty french bread with creamy, garlicky dips, a bowl of juicy olives, a plate of cold meats and a scrumptious Greek salad. It tasted divine.
After dinner, we cracked open the nicely chilled bottle of fizz that J had bought for us.
Lady B rootled around in her cupboards and dug out these delightful old engraved champagne glasses that had belonged to a relative of hers, and we all made a toast to the Happiness of Holidays.... *cheers* ((glug)) ♥mmmmmmmmmm♥ !! Is there anything better than slurping ice cold Prosecco whilst sitting outside on a balmy summers evening? My cup did runneth over.
It was a very peaceful, calm end to a hot and hectic day. I have to say I really do appreciate the way holiday life eases along fairly smoothly now that Little B is 2.5 years old. Soooooo different to last year when he was the cause of much stress and presented quite a challenge at Lady B's house (the broken stereo has not been forgotten I don't think). This year he pottered about happily, spending a delightfully long time playing in the bird bath with his newly purchased tractor, trailer and sheep.
The days last week were so, so good. Summer at it's absolute best.