Monday, 15 August 2011

Bears in the Wood

Andy, as you know, is a FAB bloke. His overall fabness more than makes up for the Doctor Who thing although this is in no way a go-ahead nod for the Doctor Who thing to expand because I definitely draw the line at any form of dressing-up and/ or role play.

Anyway, one point of Andy's fabness is that he knows how to assuage any signs of stress within me, and there has been a lot of stress over the last few weeks, one way or another.

And the assuaging takes the form of countryside + historic house/ mansion/ castle + nice lunch + huge displays of lavender + a reasonable quality gift shop full of reasonable quality tat.

Hence yesterday a trip to Penshurst Place. Countryside? Tick. Historic? Very tick. Nice lunch? Better-than-Leeds-Castle-which-is-becoming-way-too-commercialised-tick. Lavender? Scented tick. Gift shop? Admirable tick for admirable tat. De-stressed by the end of the visit? Big tickety-tick-tick-TICK!

An added bonus was that it seemed very quiet i.e few children kicking and screaming, so plenty of room to swan about the house and waft around the gardens in and out the topiary and roses like a proper Lady of the Manor.

It also had a rather lovely and expansive picnic ground and childrens' play area, so definitely a place to take the grand-daughter in the future when she is old enough to understand the subtle nuances of the reign of Henry VIII, how to plant an Elizabethan flower border and respond sensibly to the words, 'Stay away from the edge of that pathway unless you want to plummet fifteen feet onto the gravel below.'

There was a nice woodland walk, too. In fact, as we entered the woods, a grandad 'n' grandson combo emerged, and the grandson, aged about 5 or 6, informed us that it was VERY DARK in there.

'Really?' I said. 'Then we shall be very careful. Are there any bears?'

'We thought we may have heard a bear,' said the grandad.

'Yes,' said the grandson. 'And if you see the bear, then you must run away from it VERY FAST.'

'Okay,' I said. 'And if we shout 'HELP!' will you come back and save us from the bear?'

The grandad assured us they would; his grandson looked less enthusiastic. We continued on our way into the very dark and bear-infested wood.

Andy said,'Of course, the worse thing you can do if you meet a bear is to run away from it,' which is true because we had watched a wildlife documentary about bears only two days before. Apparently, you have to hold up both hands to show them you have no food. Which is okay if you happen not to be mid-picnic at the time and are scoffing an egg mayo sandwich. It also sounds like a good way to get your hands chewed off, but I am sure the experts know what they are talking about.

'But,' continued Andy, 'I didn't really want to get into a conversation with a five year old about the correct way to manage a bear attack. I thought it might complicate the issue.'

I agreed that he was very wise to keep his bear attack knowledge to himself. We didn't want the child to have nightmares after all.

And five-year-olds can be VERY pedantic if provoked. More so than a bear I reckon.

Anyway, we had a thoroughly calm and relaxing day, and just to prove the effect it had on me, I purchased a piece of high-quality tat from the gift shop which took the form of a magnetic notebook to hang on your fridge for writing shopping lists thereupon.

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