Awesome Kaffe Fassett exhibition at Mottisfont, St Mary’s Church in Amport before the school’s Harvest Festival service (and I’m still singing the songs in my head!!), finding the Littlest half way up the tree outside school, taking a walk with Jemima after school, our crazy pumpkin ‘tree’, slug time, another lovely dog walk in another beautiful wood.
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.
A rather belated post, but life has been moving at quite a pace and my writing time is currently sitting at the bottom of the list of stuff to do; the end of term for the Tribe and the summer holidays is the obvious reason. We have never been to the Amport Fete before, but as two of the Tribe were still at Amport School, we obviously felt that we should go along and we had heard that it was a lovely family day. It is held annually on Amport Green and is another quintessentially English setting particularly this year with the weather forecast of thunder, lightening and downpours in between warm sunshine! As soon as we arrive, the Boy and Gerald Durrell run off to find their school friends; the Eldest soon joins them with the Littlest while I make a beeline for the bric-a-brac stand where a friend from school is helping out. Continue reading A Family Afternoon at Amport Fete→