It was supposed to be a family evening out, but with this virus continuing to be passed around the Tribe, the Littlest had handed the ‘bug baton’ to GD and given that I had a serious case of cabin fever, Father of the Tribe took over the role of head nurse, so it was a part-family evening. I had decided to take the Littlest as well as the others after she had watched the CBeebies version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (completely brilliant and worth watching), rather a lot while in the sick bay at home, and was utterly transfixed by it. How can a five year old not love the play? There are fairies, lots of mischief and the main character is called ‘Bottom’!
The location for the evening was the Boy’s school, Bishop Wordsworth in Salisbury and sitting on the Headmaster’s Lawn, in the shadow of the cathedral spire as the sky gradually darkened, the magic was already there. With everyone eating their picnics in family groups it felt as though we were watching a rather personal performance.
The Rain or Shine Theatre Company, a professional touring theatre company whose aim is ‘to bring classical professional theatre into the heart of local communities at an affordable price’. They were utterly fabulous with the actors taking on multiple roles on stage and backstage. The Littlest’s favourite was definitely Nick Bottom (Rob Leetham) – he was very, very funny. I rather liked Hermia (Emmeline Braefield) and Helena (Pippa Meekings), particularly feisty young women, a fabulously camp Demetrius (John Cooper-Evans) and beautifully played Lysander (Matt Ferriman). Then again the fairies were all wonderful and Puck (Rob Keeves) particularly naughty.
All in all a lovely evening – well done to the BWSPA for organising the evening and we will return next year to watch Twelfth Night, hopefully with a full complement of the Tribe.
It started a few weeks ago. A door suddenly appeared at the bottom of one of the old gnarled trees in the garden. Tiny, coloured red with a sprinkling of sparkles and decorated with delicate flowers and leaves. Quite obviously, we have fairies in our garden.
The Littlest was almost beside herself with excitement and the first thing she did was write a letter to the Queen of the Fairies. It is utterly enchanting and truly magical.
Over the last couple of weeks, more doors have become visible under a silver birch and, most excitingly, a row of four beautiful little doors under the ancient cherry. We have a red door with a sign saying ‘Blossom Cottage’ with a decorative flower beneath and a green door with painted grass decorating it. An oval door has a watery theme with waves lapping along the edge and a welcoming glow from within.
Someone is very, very clever and has definitely brought a little bit of magic to this corner of Hampshire.
I think that I was as excited as the Littlest as I parked the car and took a quick snap, pre–hike; much to the embarrassment of GD. The whole school was off on a day’s hike in the surrounding Hampshire countryside. Once registration was over we all congregated in the hall where groups are read out; I had a group of four year 6 girls, including GD. The Littlest was in the group behind me. Perfect. We all get in line in the playground and the snakelike trail of children and adults gradually winds its way out of the gates onto the road and along Furzedown Lane. The sky was leaden grey, the complete opposite to the sunny exuberance of the children. As we left the man made road the track was still pretty muddy underfoot. It was my daughter, in my group, who thought that it would be a cracking idea to use the mud to paint their faces with ‘warpaint’. It would have been, if it hadn’t been a school day; I had images of ALL the children thinking what an amazing idea and being responsible for a lot of mess. And I’d get into trouble. So, I persuaded her otherwise. I felt like a bit of a killjoy, but they seemed to forget the idea quickly. Through the undergrowth alongside the path, there were brilliant glimpses of buttercup yellow rape – the brilliance enough to believe that there was a sun somewhere above us.
The Littlest quickly decided that her group, another girl and two boys, is the ‘Super Group’! The dynamics between the youngest and oldest children is very sweet and sometimes very funny. Once past the Upper and Lower Amport Woods we came to the wide track known as the Gallops. It was once a main road leading to Weyhill: the location of the Weyhill Fair, at one time the most important sheep fair in the country, trading up to 100,000 sheep in a day; hence the name today of the Fairground at Weyhill. The children jumped, skipped and ran along here – the Littlest playing ‘spies’ in the long grass running alongside the crop field, with the boys in her group. So lovely to see so many children outside and having plain old, innocent, FUN! And not a gadget in sight! As we went past one field of wheat, there was a single swallow swooping low over the crop presumably catching insects. They are striking small, dark birds easily spotted by their long tail streamers, marking them apart from swifts and house martins. In flight their agility makes them a joy to watch and this solo performer didn’t disappoint. ‘My’ four girls did a lot of singing in between a constant chattering and giggling. Exactly what they’re supposed to do, but I’m not sure that they noticed the swallow!
The walk took us past HayDown Farm and East Cholderton and across a crop field to Sarson Lane. Midway across the field I spotted a pair of herons flying at the edge of the field. Their gentle gliding against the continuing gloomy skies was simply beautiful. But by now all the children were quite ready to stop for lunch, so a quick march along Sarson Lane brought us to the Hawk Conservancy, the location for our lunch stop and a quick run around. And then the school was off again.
This time much of the hike was along narrow footpaths with cow parsley and nettles growing high on either side. A little more challenging for the smaller of the group. The sight of a pair of llamas in a field meant that the end was in sight! Past the back of The Hawk, through the car park and across the road led us past the pretty ford and around the back of Sarson House, following a tributary of Pilhill Brook. And finally the path led to the Green opposite and the children knew they were back and ice lollies would be waiting. And mugs of tea and coffee for the rest of us – very much needed!!
Everyone who hears about the hike is always amazed, impressed and in this day and age, quite enchanted, that the whole school takes part. I know how much work it is for the school to organise – a logistical nightmare without even thinking about the health and safety aspect – but it is so unique and undoubtedly worthwhile for all the children and everyone involved.
All photos of children have had parental authorisation.