A Family get together at Box Hill

Box Hill - tea 2

This past weekend was one of the hubster’s work weekends. I often take the boys over to my parents house at times like this, but they are currently holidaying in Sicily (lucky things!). Fortuitously, we had been invited down to Salisbury to stay the weekend with my sister-in-law and her two boys, where they have just moved into their new house after a five year stint in Germany. Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances this plan had to be postponed. On the up side this left us free to arrange a get together with my sister, brother in law and nieces for a lunch date on Sunday.

We hadn’t really had any plan until the night before when we suddenly realised that we hadn’t really got any idea about what we wanted to do. It is an hour’s drive between our homes so we thought it might be nice to find something to do which is kind of half way between. After much umming and erring, mulling the pros and cons of RHS Wisley, Painshill Park or, our initial desire – ‘a castle!’ (looking at Hever in Kent, the Boleyn family seat – simply too far for us), we settled upon Box Hill near Dorking, National Trust owned land with plenty of walks, trails, nearby cafes and pubs. As my first thought had been to do something outdoorsy which would give us the chance to appreciate the beauty of Autumn, this was a grand idea and the weather was set to be dry (if not sunny).

We opted to do an early lunch for the sake of the boys who get hungry early (!) which ruled out the Smith and Western restaurant nearby which doesn’t open until 12. We ended up at the Ryka’s cafe which is apparently one of the biggest biker’s destinations in England (!!). It is essentially a greasy spoon caff where your main option is burgers, burgers or more burgers (or, in the case of the kids, chicken nuggets!). We appeared to be the only people in there who weren’t dressed from head to foot in leathers!

Next we hopped back in our cars and drove up the zig zag road which formed part of  the London-Surrey Olympic Cycle circuit (and there are still plenty of Tour de France style scribblings on the road!). It took an age to drive up as the road was littered with cyclists funnily enough, causing my youngest niece to comment that she had a problem with Lycra (leather is OK apparently).

There is a lovely ‘Natural Play Trail’ up there so, wellies donned, we set off to discover: Slippy logs:

Box Hill - slippy logs

Climbing branches:

Box Hill - log climb

Stump sculptures:

Box Hill - stumps

Dens:

Box Hill - Dens

A portal through a tree to another world*

Tree portal

And some breathtaking views:

Box Hill - Views 2

Not to mention many, many, many muddy puddles (which I appear to have omitted from the camera roll – probably due to a sudden fear that my children would re-play that scene from the Vicar of Dibley where she merrily skips into a puddle which turns out to be waist deep!) Before heading to the cafe for hot chocolate, babyccino, ice cream, cake, flapjacks and coffee (Not all for me I hasten to add 🙂 ). It was here that EJ started singing Happy Birthday much to my bemusement until I realised he’d clocked the NT bunting!

All in all a lovely little outing.

*The other side of the tree.

Linking up to What’s the Story over at Podcast Dove.


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Muddiest child ever?

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This Sunday was one of those that the hubster spends working a late shift, meaning that he is not around during the morning (went to bed super late after the previous night’s shift) and isn’t around in the afternoon (back at work). I normally pack myself and the kids up and migrate over to my mum and dad’s for the weekend when this happens – its good to have the company and support – but this weekend they had plans both days so I arranged to meet up with one of my best friends who I met through the experience of motherhood. Her hubster works Sundays too so it was the perfect excuse for us to hook up with the kidlets. We planned a lunch at a local family-friendly pub/restaurant where our table was perfectly positioned… right next to the soft play zone. The kids were both pretty well behaved and ate well too. Then, as it was dry and even vaguely sunny, we headed five minutes up the road to Alice Holt Forest in Hampshire where there is a lovely big wooden play zone complete with full on pirate ship, plus little log cabins and wooden train as well as all the more mundane swings and slides.

Just as we pulled up in the car park there was a hale shower but nevertheless we ploughed on regardless and soon the sun was shining again. Most of the playzone was dry as there are plenty of woodchips and pinecones all over the ground but it was pretty muddy just at the entrance to the pirate ship. JJ and his friend were off in their wellies up and down and round, beyond my capabilities to keep track whilst carefully shadowing EJ who, at 18 months, is a pretty intrepid explorer and not afraid to scale a precarious looking structure at the best of times! Sooner or later he took notice of the pirate ship and it was more than my life was worth to keep him away from it. It was only a matter of time before the scene above became inevitable and I think I took that photo before he fell sideways into the mud (but after he had jumped up and down in the puddle repeatedly!) He was wearing wellies but that is a bit like saying a woman in a bikini was suitably attired for a tsunami!

I had to bury my head in my hands and just wail “EJ, Nooooooooooooo!” whilst looking on completely paralysed by the scene of the muddy monster from Room on The Broom emerging before my very eyes…  Another mum walked by and chuckled “he looks like he’s enjoying himself” and I had to admit that he was indeed having a whale of a time, and, despite my slightly OCD attitude to such things, I couldn’t deny that this was something of a magic moment for my little boy – muddy puddles – what’s not to love?!

Linking up to Magic Moments over at The Olivers Madhouse