Yesterday we had the grandchildren, Jake 6, Grace 2, for the day. We had a super-duper-trooper day planned. Miles and miles of free-ranging for them at the National Trust venue of Calke Abbey, a picnic on the grass and a sugar-rush chocolate slice in the restaurant afterwards.
This all went pear-shaped when the heavens opened and we entered the Trust’s mile long drive through sheets of grey, slanting rain. Not to be daunted by a little summer rain we continued. By the time we had parked, Grace had dozed off and gone to La La Land and Jake was ravenously hungry, so the three of us had our picnic in the car and Grace missed it.
We waited for the rain to stop or for it to at least slow to an irritating drizzle but no, it continued to bucket down. Grandad Richard said he knew another place where we could go so, with Grace still sleeping, off we went, singing songs that Jake had learnt at school and playing ‘guess the animal’ game – a game that only Jake knew the rules to and therefore won every time. The highlight of this part of the journey was driving through the puddles that were fast forming in every slight dip in the road. Jake roared enthusiastically as wave after wave of water engulfed the car, whilst Richard mumbled and grumbled about the wet getting into the engine. Grace slept on.
Eventually we arrived at a reservoir? Very child friendly! But Richard is pretty new to this game of child entertainment and so, I consider, can be forgiven. By this time Grace was back with us and had devoured her cheese sandwiches just before we pulled up. We all piled out with Richard ramming wellies on little feet and grumbling as pain ran up his calcified shoulder when lifting the buggy from the boot. Grandma Gail, was of course unsuitably shod, as usual, in flip-flops and a thin shirt. I’m amazed that the British weather always comes as a surprise to me and that I’m always unsuitably dressed for it? Weird that.
We splashed on through puddles with Grace loving the ducks, swans and family of coots. Jake kept the widest of births, because he finds most feathered and furred creatures worrying but found great joy in trying to push the buggy into the reservoir. We also discovered another pet hate of his – coleslaw sandwiches! We didn’t know of his replusion to this particular delicacy until part way through our in-car picnic, when he started to retch as I unwrapped my little sandwich. When questioned why he didn’t like coleslaw he went bright red, retched with hand to mouth, whilst shaking his head and we changed the subject pronto.
They then had a game of who could get the wettest and dirtiest by splashing in the muddiest puddles and who could be the first to give Grandma Gail a heart attack by slipping off the low wall into the reservoir.
We made it back to the car, shattered, wet, hot and dying of thirst – us – not them! Grace and Jake were still working off their chocolate-log rolls!
On the way home Jake asked, ‘Grandma, when we get home can we make cakes?’
‘Er …yes,’ Grandma said, secretly wondering if she was going to see the end of this day alive – or sane.
Make cakes, Lord, that was the last thing on my mind. But I find it extremely hard to say no to Jake. He has more life and spirit than anyone or anything that I have ever known and I would hate for him to lose that by having his ideas and suggestions squashed. I believe that children should be encouraged to suggest things and think for themselves.
‘And can you put that strawberry frosting on the top?’ Richard piped up, yawning and bleary-eyed.
Poor Richard. I agreed to do just that because I really do think the guy was running on empty and was in need of a massive sugar rush.
We made cakes (36 of them) but someone’s little fingers turned down the heat in the oven for the last 12 and they didn’t work out quite so well. Slightly pancaky – but edible.
When we dropped the kiddies off, my son, Matt, enquired,’what are you two doing when you get home?’
Without missing a beat Richard said, ‘putting the house back together and cleaning the bloody strawberry frosting off the windows. And then, if I’m still standing, I’ll try to get the felt pen off the bathroom sink.’
Matt grinned. Well he would, wouldn’t he? Because I think it’s always amusing and kind of reassuring when someone else sees what you have to go through every day? I think the experience may have sent Richard slightly deaf though because as Matt loaded up the hooligans into his car he grinned and said jokingly (I think?), ‘OK, thanks a lot. Same time, same place next week?’
Take care my lovelies x