A couple of weeks ago, I decided that the walk I had planned for our adventure day wasn’t suitable for me looking after Rowan and the furry woofers on my own (too much on a country road with no pavement). Turned out we were both pretty tired too, so we stayed local and visited Dunham Park.
To try something a bit different, I stuck a couple of drawing pads, pencils and crayons in the rucksack to see where that would take us. However, the day did not start off well. First, I realised that Rick had my national trust card, so because I am tight, we had to call at his work to pick it up. Not so bad, but then I remembered I wasn’t sure of the way to Dunham Park from where Rick works. No problem – I have Brian Blessed on my sat nav, and he’s been to Everest. I’m sure he can get us to Dunham Park.
Or maybe not. Our sat nav is old, and there are a lot of new roads on the way to Dunham Park. Pretty soon Brian was telling us to turn around when possible because according to him, we were in the middle of a green field. We were actually on the new road, but we may as well have been in Timbuktu, because I had no idea where I was or where I was heading. Add in lots of closed roads, diversions and Pebble doing her best Sweep impression in the back of the car and I was beginning to feel quite stressed. Rowan, bless him, tried to be reassuring. “Don’t worry Mummy, it’ll be ok. If we can’t find it, we can always go home”. Yep – I don’t know how to get there either.
Eventually, after turning the stereo off (because that always helps), I spotted a sign for Altrincham and followed it. Next, there was a sign for Dunham Park – day out back on! But by this point, to say I was frazzled was an understatement.
We parked for free, though it did occur to me I had spent the cost of parking on petrol, and walked to the grounds, making the usual stop at the map and toilets.
After passing a 500 year old tree, we strolled through the courtyard and past the front of the house. The house was built in Elizabethan times with extensive remodelling undertaken by various owners over the years. Having the furry pair with us meant we couldn’t go in the house so we continued into the park.
We had barely covered any distance before we spotted the resident deer. Keeping the muttlers in mind, we set our rubble sack seats out a good distance away and got out the pencils and paper. Rowan really took to sitting watching and drawing the deer. I had a go, but keeping an eye on the deer, our dogs, Rowan and other dogs meant I gave up quite quickly and contented myself watching Rowan’s works of art come to fruition.
Eventually, one of the deer decided that the grass near us looked pretty tasty and made his way over. We took this as our cue move on and try a bit of bark rubbing, and there were lots of trees to choose from.
This was the first time Rowan had done any bark rubbing and he was really excited to see the patterns appear on the paper as I showed him what to do. He then took rubbings from a lime and a felled silver birch (I think) before sitting down to do some more drawing.
When I think back, we’d been out in nature very little time and walked only a short distance before the debacle of getting there was completely forgotten and I was feeling much more chilled out and relaxed. It just goes to show how much good a bit of time outside in a nature does for us.
Eventually, the pencils and crayons were packed away and Rowan enjoyed himself climbing and balancing on the logs before he decided that it was about time we had our picnic. We agreed we would have a wander round before we ate, so we could find the perfect spot to sit. We were mooching across the grass, when Rowan spotted it. The squirrel.
Watching him stalk this squirrel across the park, hiding behind tufts of grass as he went was brilliant. The squirrel was fully aware he was being tracked and Rowan soon lost his mark as the bushy tailed one scampered up a tree.
As we continued our wander, we spotted a rabbit disappear under a tree trunk. More stalking ensued, and judging by the look on his face – he got a bit closer this time.
We spent quite some time looking at the wildlife from behind trees while we decided where to eat. Now it was Rocky’s turn to find something. The bad thing. I looked down as he was scooting his ears along the ground. No!! Not fox poo! I pulled him up and checked his sides and ears. I felt quite pleased that I’d managed to catch him before he’d rubbed it all over himself. Or so I thought.
We walked over to one of the benches by the pond to settle down for our dinner, Rowan climbing on the fallen trees as we went. I was just getting our sandwiches out when I noticed all the flies and decided we’d sit somewhere else. Rowan chose a huge tree to sit under but again, there were still loads of big flies. Then we noticed Rocky, looking harassed and backing up, absolutely plagued with the winged beasts. I looked under his ear. He was smeared with the bad thing and crawling with flies.
I don’t know what it was (and I don’t really want to), but we weren’t too far from the toilets at the stables so I was able to get plenty of water to wash him down before we finally got our sandwiches. By this point, the sky had begun to look ominous so we walked back to the car, feeling really happy having enjoyed a creative day outside. Even the heavens opening before we got back to the car didn’t dampen our spirits (and it probably helped get the last of the bad thing off Rocky).
There is lots going on at Dunham Park and you can find out more here. And should your sat nav be more up to date than mine, the postcode is WA14 4SJ.