Less than ten weeks now until our trip back to the UK. To say I am feeling almost childlike levels of excitement would be an understatement! Aside from the obvious anticipation of quality time with good friends and family, there are also so many places to visit, so many new experiences to introduce our daughter to. Even just the everyday, take-it-for-granted stuff that we really can’t do out here in Borneo because of the overwhelming heat, humidity, and the hordes of super-size creepy crawlies and air-borne insects!
Simple pleasures like strolling in to town or going for a long country walk along the river. My husband and I have always loved walking. Not as hardcore ramblers (if that isn’t too much of an oxymoron?!) with all the gear. Just walkers in the ‘it’s a nice afternoon, shall we stick our shoes on, go for a little wander and then find somewhere for a sun-downer?’ sense. We walked somewhere every day, even if it was just a ten minute amble to the shops. The feel-good endorphins get going, and your mind de-clutters during the precious moments of relative quiet, away from the constant buzz of our social-media saturated world. More than that, there is the chance to tune in to the natural world around you. Zooming by in a car, train or bus, you just don’t get that connection.
Hearing the bird song as you walk by, seeing which new plant is in flower to tempt the bees and butterflies. Watching the leaves on the trees changing from the soft new growth of early spring, into their darker, dusty summer coats, sticky with sap. It is magical. My love of nature and the beautiful British countryside is so much a part of me, and something I really want to pass on to my children.
So this summer we will be spending lots of time in the great outdoors. I am already thinking about possibilities! We’ll be splitting our time between Warwickshire and Staffordshire. I really feel spoilt for choice. Both counties offer so many ways to spend your days in the sunshine…or, knowing British summers, the pouring rain! So far, the peacock garden and rose garden at Warwick Castle, the beautiful Charlecote Park estate and deer park, and the RSPB wetland reserve at Otmoor near Oxford are all on the list. As are the wild moorlands of the Staffordshire Roaches, Chester Zoo, and Shugborough Estate farm and mill. And of course nothing beats a day by the great British seaside, rock-pooling, paddling and building sandcastles. The Welsh coast, and Abersoch in particular, is sounding good at the moment. The beaches there are beautiful, and perhaps more importantly when travelling with a little one, it is one of the closest options to get to!
With all that choice and more, hopefully there will be some fantastic day trips happening very soon. Will we make it to all or even any of them, in reality? We’ll see! Undoubtedly at least some of them will fall by the wayside. Toddlers – as I am discovering – and the unpredictable English weather – as I well know! – have an uncanny ability to change plans unexpectedly.
But even without the daytrips, I know already that there will be some priceless, precious moments to look forward to. All those classic childhood things that memories are made of. Taking our little girl to feed the ducks by the river, or sitting in the garden and sharing a picnic without worrying about scorpions and fierce red ants. Passing on the children’s favourite, ‘what’s the time Mr Wolf?’, as we blow the seeds from the abundant dandelion clocks. And of course, the afternoons in the park, looking at the flowers and leaves we find, and toddling after the squirrels.
People keep telling me to enjoy every minute with our daughter because they grow up so quickly. With her first birthday fast approaching I am getting a growing appreciation for just how rapidly our little baby is turning into a little lady. So I am very much looking forward to our family taking the time this summer to enjoy the British great outdoors and, both literally and metaphorically, stop and smell the roses.