We had a weekend that disappointed my inner eight year old girl.
First off to Wisley, where we walked around in crisp air under amazing blue skies while the toddler slept in his all-terrain pushchair.
We managed to pry his eyes open just in time to visit the butterfly exhibit.
We’re members of the RHS, so we get in free – but presumably Wisley needs to keep a steady stream of cash visitors coming through the door so there are the occasional family friendly, gimmicky attractions, particularly in the winter.
To me, there garden is beautiful any time of year and late January is amazing with the witch hazel and cyclamen and hellebore and a handful of snowdrops in bloom. Surprising treasures in a winter landscape. And the Piet Oudolf borders are full of striking and sculptural seed heads. But I understand that not everyone is a garden geek like me. So to bring in the punters, they pump the glasshouse full of butterflies.
But not full enough. Far too many people (and every last one of them with a digital camera) and far too few butterflies. When I go to a butterfly exhibit I want it to be like the scene in Snow White where all the birds are gathered round here. I want butterflies galore. Instead, it was the occasional tired insect surrounded by lenses. And a few dead (or nearly so) clustered around the trays of rotting fruit that had been left out to lure them from their leafy refuge.
Inner-eight year old girl: where are all the butterflies?
Me: Beautiful day out, some great photos and toddler had a wonderful time using the lift in the glass house.
I’ve been promising the toddler a horse ride for a couple of weeks. I’m not sure where the idea came from or why he was suddenly so insistent. I wasn’t even sure, at first, that he meant a real horse ride. But when I showed him a picture of a child riding a pony at the nearby urban farm he smiled that satisfaction smile that meant that his poorly enunciated demands were finally understood.
On Sunday it finally worked out that we could go and with some rushing around we made it down to Deen City Farm only a few minutes late. I joined the back of the queue, which moved not at all as a birthday party had booked pony rides for all the little kids. Simon and Bill went off to enjoy his favourite ride of all. The yellow bus.
As the party cleared out, and the line started to move I called Simon who brought a screaming, kicking toddler up to the pony queue. No promises of pony rides could compensate for removal from the yellow bus (which wasn’t even turned on that day).
But when he saw other children riding the pony and saw that he was close to being fitted with his own riding helmet. He calmed down. When the woman reached for his hand to lift him up onto the platform he did not look back. I could tell that he was excited, but he was trying to keep it cool.
The pony ride itself was brief, when they say ‘about a minute’ on the website – that seems fairly generous. But he loved it. A real horse ride, on a beautiful pony.
Inner eight-year old girl: I waited all that time and I didn’t even get to ride the pony beyond a muddy old yard.
Me: All that running around and waiting in the cold was worth it to see the look on his face.