have started running. Well, I say running, but what I have actually
started could best me described as 'ralking' - more walking than
running. On day one I was almost mown down by a car as I couldn't hear
it's engine over the noise of my wheezing. Admittedly, after a week I
have almost graduated to 'wunning' but it's a slow progress and highlights what I have come to admit to myself - I'm a Southern wuss.
Nothing underlines this fact as much as our annual visit to friends
up in Yorkshire. We were there a couple of weeks ago and were met by
Jane with the words "sorry, I was just having a rest on the sofa - I did
a 20 mile run this morning." 20 miles? That shouldn't even be described
as a 'run'. A run does not do it justice. It should at least merit 'an
odyssey at speed'. But no, Up North, 20 miles at pace across the moor
is just a 'run'. And Andy's 'bike ride' the next morning was also just
'a bike ride' even though I suspect he crossed a county line or two
before rendezvousing with us at RHS Harlow Carr...
...which is what I really meant to talk to you about. I probably
should have mentioned this last week, but I got all distracted with emergency bikinis and Mr Bloom's cheekbones. As you do.
Yes, in my not-at-all-regular-and-possibly-just-this-minute-made-up
series of "Garden visits with children" I thought I'd focus on Harlow
Carr, the RHS's Yorkshire garden and a surprisingly welcoming spot for
Best bits for kids
Stamping - each of the children was given a Plant
Hunter Passport which was a great idea - mostly because it guided them
around the garden, challenging them to spot different plants and
undertake various activities in the geographically themed sections of
the garden. There were even strange hole-puncturing implements to stamp
your passport with in each zone.
Of course, my three children managed to drop, lose or argue over
whose passport was whose, but I'm sure 'normal' children would get on
fine with these - and it does allow adults to see the whole garden
before being dragged off to child-centric features.
Craggle Top Tree House - one of those 'child-centric
features', hidden away in a wooded area of the garden, this is a new
feature in the garden and offers, not only the tree house ("it's not a
tree house, it's just on stilts" - Ava) but also rope and log walkways.
Oh, and there are a couple of handily located picnic benches for adults
who have decided they really need to sit and recover with a coffee.
Log Maze - Personally, I think 'maze' is overdoing it - the challenge would be not
to find the centre - but still a fun place to play chase with the
children. Or to watch Jane chase the children (she runs 20 miles
people, this was just a short warm down exercise and, you know, that
latte wasn't going to drink itself).
Garden games - large wooden versions of classic
games have been placed on a lawned area so the kids were able to play
snakes and ladders, Jenga, Connect 4... while I watched, with a coffee.
Log ness monster - what came first, the feature or
the pun? Logs that can be walked upon, up and down until arrival at the
monsters head (which looked slightly cock-eyed having had children walk
over it for months on end).
Bird hide - although possibly not best visited directly after a scream-infested game of chase.
Kitchen garden - with sweet pea tunnels, snaking pathways and even a few chickens.
Bettys Tea Room - so OK, more for me than the kids, but it's Bettys so I couldn't leave it out.
We were there three hours and could easily have stayed another two
without running out of things to see, but then my daughter did what many
nine-year-old girls do - became possessed by Beelzebub - and we cut
short our visit.
Thankfully, next week I shall be able to give you another tour of
child friendly gardens as I'm off to the Loire Valley. I shall not be
taking any actual children of course - although I might bring along the