Every year I love looking forward to the first snowdrops, watching the pinpricks of crocuses appearing and then the sea of cheerful yellow daffodils washing over the gardens and grassy banks.
The last few yeats bluebells have started to edge their way into my awareness too. I have seen friends take photos of their little ones amongst fields of bluebells, and I am lucky enough to have a sprinkling of blue, pink, and white bluebells in my garden.
Not enough for a good photo opportunity though…
So yesterday I packed up a picnic and Carl packed up our little camping stove (so we could have cups of tea!) and we drove a few miles away to Norsey Woods.
We hadn’t been before, but several friends had mentiones them as being particularly lovely so we decided to give it a try…and we weren’t disappointed.
There was a lovely picnic area close to the carpark, but far enough into the woods that it felt like the woods were all that could possibly be in the world. It was large and fenced so children can run and roam and explore but without getting lost. The air was filled with birdsong, and Jessica told me to ‘follow her finger’ and was pointing to a squirrel which was scurrying about.
Our picnic was lovely…there is something so special about eating in the open air, and food from a wicker picnic hamper tastes better somehow.
We had mugs of tea with lunch, and then afterwards Carl made us coffee using those little filters which sit on top of your mug. Fresh coffee and chocolate cake enjoued while walking the perimeter of the picnic area was such a nice treat, and somehow you could imagine the Famous Five doing it in their older years!
Once we had packed up our picnic things, we went in search of bluebells…and we were richly rewarded. There were carpets of them everywhere. I love how they look like a delicate blue mist hovering lightly above the ground. They are really ethereal, and when you pause to look at one individually they have such a graceful line to them and are beautiful on their own.
The early rain had cleared away, the sun was out, the bluebells were abundant…but Jessica was not in the mood to have her photograph taken! Her tongue came out, her eyes closed, her back was turned! She was gigglimg while she was doing it, so we decided to hunt for treasure and try again later.
Jessica just loved treasure hunting. I have her a sandwich bag and she looked for twigs and pebbles, pine cones, leaves, all manner of things which caught her eye.
And then finally I was rewarded with my photograph, the one I really wanted, of my little girl among the bluebells.
That photo makes my heart sing. I love that Jessica’s life will be punctuated by the coming of the bluebells, by our annual snowdrop walk, by the never-ending vases of daffodils in February. Giving a child the love of things like this is one of the best gifts I can imagine (alongside a love of reading and crafts!)
We have been visiting nature reserves which have trails of statues to find (like Wind In The Willows or Brambley Hedge) and wonderful visiter centres with cafes. There was none of this at Norsey, and initially I was a little worried if it would hold Jessica’s attention as well. As it happened she was perfectly happy hunting for benchea rather than statues!
So if you live near Stock, do go and explore Norsey woods – but just make sure you take your provisions with you!