So last week we went to Cornwall. This is how much I love Cornwall – when The Husband and I went to South Africa we climbed to the top of Table Mountain (yep, really climbed, stop snickering), stopped, caught our breath and looked around. ‘It’s gorgeous here.’ We said, ‘looks just like Cornwall.’
So it was with great excitement that I noticed that while we were there The National Trust were doing a free open weekend on their properties. Now obviously, being in possession of a toddler I was mildly concerned at exactly how much he would enjoy traipsing round an old building which contained neither balloons nor pictures of Batman, however I was reliably informed that The National Trust is now very family friendly. There was an adventure playground there. The advertising showed a picture of small children playing idyllically in the bluebells. The fact that the children were also wearing Victorian dress should have rung an alarm bell. It didn’t. Oops.
Because the thing is all families want to do Family Days Out. Where we all behave at least vaguely well, and we go and do something nice and our kids eat something other than chips and we manage not to have a heart attack over the cost of a cup of tea and a slice of Victoria sandwich. It means that we are doing parenting properly, right?! I even planned it properly. Checked the weather report, no rain until 12. So we would arrive at Lanhydrock at 10, go play on the adventure playground, take a wander through the gardens, taking some nice photos on the way, over priced lunch at 12 evened out by free entrance and then back in the car at 1 for the toddler to have his Bang On Time nap.
The Husband, being a preacher and all that, does like to remind me occasionally with a raised eyebrow that God loves a planner, by which I presume he means to add ‘and will also remind you politely never to plan anything sensibly ever again.’
So of course by the time we arrive The Toddler has just fallen asleep in the car and is not happy about the move into a buggy. And it’s starting to rain, two hours before planned, damn you BBC weather forecast. So, like any sensible parents, we decide to go straight to the cafe, hide from the weather and try to calm The Toddler with some cake to share between the three of us. Have you spotted the stupid mistake there? Still, gotta love getting your child’s leftovers, eh?
The Toddler, still being a bit snoozy, decided that with his cake stuffed tummy he would then be happy to sit in his buggy for a bit while we looked at the house and avoided the rain. An unexpected result! So we make it to the front door and discover…a no buggys sign. Now, I appreciate that stately homes don’t really come with elevators but could not we be given the option of just wheeling round the ground floor? Or did the buggy park really need to be up a flight of steps, meaning we had to first evict The Toddler from aforementioned comfy buggy in the rain and then lug it up the steps? Is it really such an out there thought to put a ramp there?
But more joy was to come. I know. After making our way in The Toddler is handed a piece of paper in which he can ‘write’ down all the places he sees toy trains around the house. This, we are informed, will be fun for him.
‘Choo choo train!’ Replies The Toddler, reaching for it.
‘Oh, but you can’t touch it, sweetheart, it’s not ours. It’s just to look at.’
Reader, would you like to guess what happened next? Because in fairness, The Toddler is pretty well behaved, but imagine it this way. You are tired, your small child demands you go to soft play. You grump slightly but your child informs you that it’s ok, because if you climb up the bumpy steps, over the rope bridge and through the ball pool there will be a ruddy large glass of Shiraz and some chocolate biscuits from Waitrose. You get there, sniff the wine and oh no, your child says, their not for you to touch! You can just look at them, now lets go look at some Rioja that you can’t drink either.
I know how I’d react to that, and in fairness it’s not far off my child’s reaction. And I don’t have the excuse of being two.
The rest of Lanhydrock is somewhat a blur of trying to pacify a small child, small child sitting down to do drawings (you know, because he can’t actually write yet) in small rooms full of tourists who foolishly don’t appreciate his artistic genius, some tears and The Husband (you know, The Preacher) emitting a few choice phrases that I’m pretty certain aren’t in The Osbourne Book of First Words. We left before the end.
So that was our day out at The National Trust! As we left The Husband turned to me and said ‘let’s never come here again’ so we avoided the rainy adventure playground and set sail for somewhere else, preferably somewhere where The Toddler could be his normal super-hero self and not something out of a Victorian picture postcard ideal.