Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stuffed Pine-Martins

DSC03644 DSC03642 We spent a very restless night in the cottage in which I endured the sounds of a crisp linen down quilt being attacked repeatedly through-out the night due to the inability of my dear son to figure out that if one is already hot, undertaking aerobic activity such as knee kicking, spinning in place, karate, and, crumping, is not going to cool one down. In fact, it may make one hotter which may make the down quilt seem like even more of an enemy and require further assaults on said quilt. Finally, at 2:45am, I suggested that he TAKE THE FRICKIN QUILT OFF THE BED AND SETTLE DOWN so that Zoe and I could get some sleep. After a few moments of silence, he agreed and we all went to sleep. Typically a quilt is not a noisy item. This quilt however, became the bane of my existence for a few long hours and I’m happy to report that I wrestled it back into its tiny little storage bag and shoved it in the cupboard this morning. I think I may even have called it a ‘f$%^&)@ piece of work’. Jacob has a light bedspread on him tonight and if he starts on that, then so help me God.

We spent the morning getting over the night, then took ourselves off across the fields to the main area of Leeds Castle. This castle is quite lovely – all moats and stone archways and little leaded windows. Inside is good, too, as much of the early history has been restored over the years by recent owners. And I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it or not but Henry VIII loved this castle and had a lot of improvements made so that his first wife Katherine of Aragon would be comfortable when they stayed there. There is a fully-intact banqueting hall that was a favourite of Henry VIII’s and I perhaps stayed a little longer than most in that room imagining Katherine of Aragon sipping her ale while her husband wolfed down entire lamb legs etc. etc.

The kids enjoyed it all well enough although without perhaps the same enthusiasm as my mum who loved, it seemed, every last thing about the place:

Mum: “Jacob! Did you notice that woven badger from 1632 on the wall?”

Jacob: “Nope”.

Mum: “Well go and take a look at it – I think that’s amazing!”

Jacob: “Can we eat lunch now?”

Mum: “After we take a look through this display of early 17th century cod sketches”

Zoe: “That’s boring. I can see birds out the window”

Mum: “Oh and did you see this collection of 18th century commode covers? These have been here since 1789 when Lady Olive Slot-Prickford found them shoved under her mattress and thought they should be on display. How fascinating. How FANTASTIC!”

Me: “Uh…mum? Can we keep moving here?”

Mum: “Yes of course just let me take a quick look into the Library….OH HOW FABULOUS! Look an entire set of Biggles books! Biggles Goes Flying, Biggles in the Amazon Basin, Biggles On Fire… This is JUST how I would like my….

Me: “Mum we’ll meet you in the café…”

Mum: “OK Darling I’ll see…Oh LOOK! A complete set of Andy Pandy books! Andy Pandy and the Ladybird, Andy Pandy and the Man in the Park, Andy Pandy ties his Shoes, Andy Pandy and KGB, Andy Pandy loses his Keys….”

Lunch was a passable affair marred only by the compete absence of a fork anywhere in the vicinity resulting in salad by spoon. Katherine of Aragon would have had a fork for sure. The kids then burned off some steam in a huge playground where I had the pleasure of overhearing a mother tell her child to “stop messing about this instant or it’s no bangers and mash for you tonight”. The child stopped instantly. I’ll have to try that one. I wanted to ask her if they would also be having spotted dick for ‘pudding’ (which is English for dessert, by the way) but thought that might be a bit rude.

We then walked back through the grounds and across the sheep fields to our cottage. The kids crashed for awhile then we all went for a swim at the local Ramada where we have a week’s membership as part of the cottage rental. We also have access to the entire grounds of the castle at any time so we can hardly wait to walk the paths and bridges after everyone else has left and pretend we live there. Or something.

We spent the evening trying to plan the rest of the week. Jacob and I both take great delight in poking fun at the English penchant for what they call a Day Out. This is not an extended punishment for your child, but rather an entire day with family or friends or both spent out at a local attraction. Pamphlets and brochures are everywhere exhorting you to spend a Great Day Out at such and such a place where you will be sure to enjoy some or all of the following:

A mansion or castle, a garden, a woodland walk, a boating lake (usually more like a boating pond), a restored potting shed used by Virginia Woolf’s best friend’s aunt’s gardener for 10 minutes in 1912 but only by accident as he was drunk and thought it was the bathroom, a playground, a café or food service of some kind (which means you can get sandwiches that have been made by the chef who then sat on them to make them less than an inch thick before being put out), a gift shop, screaming children in prams, a car park, a family activity trail (I don’t know what that is either), haggard-looking parents, a dormouse conservation project visitors centre or something similar, a stuffed pine-martin, pic-nic area, mothers-in-law following children around with slices of apple or a piece of cake in hand, toilets, and of course, tea.

This is all made out to sound like such FUN! SUPER! A GREAT Day Out!! Maybe we’ll try one and I’ll let you know.

More tomorrow from the land of the Stuffed Pine-Martin.

No comments:

Post a Comment