Perhaps a more accurate description would actually be to climb backwards. I don't know why it is but our boys have an almost pathological need to tackle obstacles back to front, usually garnering a mixed response from fellow users of the equipment that ranges from wide-eyed admiration to scowling irritation. This never seems to concern the boys who were thus happily engaged within seconds of our arrival.
The beautiful and surprisingly uncrowded park was perfect for the mums (far enough away from said climbing facilities and the accompanying thunderous noise of several hundred feral children playing, squabbling and shrieking at the top of their not-inconsiderable voices).
We found a tranquil spot by the river to put our blanket and were having lunch when L reappeared looking glum and, flopping down beside me, announced they'd been bawled at by a Man In A Green Tee-Shirt for climbing on the steps of the fountain.
Which fountain? I asked, looking round. That one, L said, pointing to a block of stone that was invisible beneath a seething mound of children who were hanging off its every surface in various stages of precariousness.
We had lunch on the blanket (this was made more interesting by the arrival of the boys who demanded food and water and then proceeded to roll about strangling each other and beating each other over the head with their shoes), and I gave Mrs G her belated birthday present (a bright red mug containing the legend "calm down: you're fifty now", which I know she will treasure and use at every opportunity). Afterwards, with the boys dispatched to climb the play equipment backwards again, Mrs B and I listened in fasincation and open-mouthed admiration to Mrs G's tale of the "Time She Was Rescued By a Royal Marine."
We do a regular "Mummy's Lunch" (every term), and I'd been poorly so unable to attend the last one. Mrs G and Mrs B had had a good catch up, then Mrs G had left to return to Bath in time for the school run and the ferrying of her son to a (new) friend's house for tea. Half way home in the middle of no-where her car got a puncture. Picking up her mobile to call for help she realised the battery was flat. Opening the glove compartment to get the charger she discovered that her son had removed it to charge his I Pod with the night before and had not put it back. She was just wondering what to do when a car drew up and a tall, well muscled, and more importantly attractive young man got out and politely asked if she needed help.
She said yes (rather too quickly), and explained she had a puncture. He offered to change it for her, to which she readily agreed, and asked where the spare wheel was. It was only after she had taken everything out of the boot that she remembered there was no spare. Feeling rather stupid she put it all back in mumbling apologies for wasting his time. He brushed them aside and offered to drive her to the nearest garage to buy a new wheel instead.
At this point she had a sudden panic that he might be an axe murderer. Seeing her look he said "it's alright, I'm a Royal marine" and showed her his military ID. Feeling reassured (that wasn't the word she used, but it's hard to translate the appreciative sound she made into a word) she jumped into his car. When they got to the garage which was a fair few miles down the road the spare tyres were selling at £120 each.
By this time they felt they knew each other quite well, having told each other their life stories, and exchanging a glance he said the tyre was too expensive and they would go on to the next garage. By now she was enjoying herself so much she'd forgotten all about Bath and tea at the new friend's house. After several miles the replacement tyre was finally purchased and they returned to her car. The wheel was duly changed and she got home safely in time for both the school run and the new tea.
Bless the bloke, he'd stopped and offered help with changing a tyre expecting his good deed to take perhaps twenty minutes and the whole thing had lasted most of the afternoon!
She said he was utterly charming, and when she expressed embarrassment at using up more or less his whole afternoon and offered to pay for his time and petrol he would have none of it, saying that he hoped if it was ever his girlfriend in a similar situation someone decent would stop to help her out.
Isn't that a lovely story? It's good to know that there are good samaritans in the world (and better still handsome ones).
The boys reappeared in time for the ending of the story and we decided to walk round the grounds on our way home. They are really beautiful and substantial enough to make a decent walk after lunch. On the way back through the adventure playground we spotted the Man In a Green Tee-Shirt who had shouted at L earlier. By that point in the afternoon he had adopted what can only be described as a heavily dejected stance and was sitting with his chin in his hands glumly watching five hundred heavily shod screaming kids bouncing on a trampoline, behind which a sign read: "No more then three children on the trampoline at any one time please and all shoes to be taken off." I wished I'd had the nerve to take a photo.
I nudged L- "he's given up" I said, "If you want to jump on the fountain without being told off now's the time to do it."
Possibly, the Man In a Green Tee-Shirt heard me. He glanced up and gave me a despairing sort of look and I, who didn't have to stay and patrol a children's adventure park for the rest of the afternoon, smiled brightly and headed happily for home.
Here are some pics of my lovely friends Mrs B and Mrs G, and some shots of the beautiful trees in the park, the house, and general landscape. It's well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in that neck of the woods. We didn't go into the house (there would have been no point whatsoever with three boys in tow) but I expect it is worth a look too.
The stone bridge into the far parkland was closed but I'm told it does open at other times of the year. In which case you could walk for miles. Isn't the green of that tree amazing?
Unlike ours (which has gone back to being shy this year) their wisteria was in full majestic bloom
The lovely Mrs B and Mrs G respectively
Gravel walk beside the river
I kept expecting Mr Darcy to appear, leap off his charger and stride manfully into the water, hopefully in a clinging white see-through shirt, but it didn't happen. I suppose a girl should be content with one tale of a rescuing hero a day.
Wilton House glimpsed through the trees.
The red Horse Chestnut in the middle had amazingly bright candles.
A glorious Copper Beech, one of my favourite trees
A rather elegant Boat Shed
The boys swapping email addresses on their smart phones. That didn't happen when they were three. Oh how the times have changed....
The Whispering Bench.
If you whisper at one end to your friend at the other the stone will carry the words to them.
Now I want this frog for my pond.
Is it likely they would notice if he went missing?
Beautiful, majestic Cedar Tree
This has the feel of a Japanese Water Garden to me
Some ideas here for my pond.....
More lovely trees
The view across the river into the park where cattle were grazing
Pond blog tomorrow, or by Friday at the latest I promise. The pond itself is coming on really well and we have all sorts of wildlife there already, but I'll save that for a post of it's own.
Right, time to sign off, hang out the washing, hoover the mud brought in by the dogs after this morning's walk through the woods, sweep the breakfast bread crumbs (and if I'm being honest the bodies of dead flies) off the kitchen surfaces, cook tea, and then perhaps drink some wine in the sunshine by the pond and watch the wildlife for a while. Ahh, it's a hard life.... CT x