Another family outing today – out in the fresh air, stretch the legs, a bit of bonding amidst the joys of nature. I had found out it was Snowdrop Sunday at Marwood Gardens, not too far away – and thought it was all decided. Silly of me really, because it turned out there was an admission charge, provoking a great deal of animated discussion over lunch and cries of ‘… not paying £3.50 to go and look at somebody’s snowdrops… ‘.
Then followed helpful suggestions from me of other places to go – but they were all closed, too far away, too wet and windy, too expensive, or totally unsuitable for wheeling a baby buggy. Half an hour later, it turned out that my daughter and I were talking about two different Snowdrop Sundays. Apparently there was another at Hartland Abbey – Hartland being the rocky point jutting out into the Atlantic with ferocious storms and seas, and is,as far as I am concerned, unfit for human life during the winter months. ‘OK’, I said, ‘ which do we prefer’, and of course it was Hartland Abbey (also £3.50 each I might add). ‘That’s OK, I said, just so long as I dont have to be driven around aimlessly for hours through the countryside on a wet and cold Sunday afternoon – because there is nothing I hate more.’
It grew darker and colder and started to rain as we set off. The car brakes were making a nasty grinding noise, and what with being jammed in the stuffy back seat between baby and daughter, windows steamed up and an infuriating satnav and loud music coming from the front… I found it difficult to keep up the level of conversation. There was an interesting sub-dialogue from the two grown men in the front seats: ‘ Why do you always have to argue? I’m not arguing, it’s you that’s always arguing…’
We found the Abbey, no thanks to the satnav – we found the entrance gate anyway, and a notice saying that unfortunately Snowdrop Sunday had to be cancelled, owing to the car park being flooded by melting snow.
We thought we would take a look at the desolate rocky coastline at Hartland Quay. We heaved ourselves out of the car and managed to assemble the buggy in the teeth of the Atlantic gale. The baby was hauled out into the rain and wind,outraged, and we all huddled round to protect him, like penguins at the North Pole, as he was snuggled down into his nice waterproof capsule. We made our way along the coast path in front of the hotel that smells permanentlyof chip-frying oil. I feebly attempted to take photos and fell over on the slippery rocks and grazed the palms of my hands.
We soon had enough of that, and drove off again into the rain. We weren’t quite sure where we were going – just vaguely inland. I lost track of time. I think I might have lost consciousness for a moment or two…
Some time later, we saw what looked like a nice bit of forest on the horizon and headed towards it for a walk. We parked by an avenue of moss-covered trees, that were once ancient Devon hedges. They gave off a vivid and seductive green light. They are growing on solid earth banks, and you can see where they were woven and coppiced many years ago.
It stopped raining . There was no wind. Everything began to look a little brighter. There was only one thing we could possibly do, and that was to resort to a snowball fight.