Yesterday was my birthday. Thirty two – blimey! All of a sudden I am the sort of age I considered ‘old’ when I was a pre-teen. I celebrated by spending the weekend at my parents’ house in Lymington, having nice meals and good company, and a picnic in the New Forest followed by some Geocaching. It was pleasant!
I have to say I love spending time with my family. A weekend at my parents’ house can be very healing when I’ve felt a little rushed or have spent too much time with M when she’s having a bit of an awkward few days. I’m exceedingly blessed in that I get on with all my family very well. We like being together. We share meals and games and a sense of humour. We all enjoy the same kinds of activities;long walks (less long now I have little ones to bring along), drinkable wine, hearty food, board games, card games. Spending time in Lymington is still very much ‘coming back home’ to my mind.
The New Forest picnic was very enjoyable. The weather was cloudy but warm and dry, and we sat out and shared food with extended family and friends. After we had had enough of sausage rolls, chicken legs and novelty cupcakes we packed up our things and headed out to find a nearby Geocache. That’s when things began to get interesting.
M had not slept that day. I had vague hopes if I slung her on my back she might drop off during the walk, but her friend L was also there and they both wanted to walk so I left the wrap in the car, popped E in the Moby and we started walking. 800m says the compass. No distance! It was a nice easy cache, just a little off from the main path and very easy to find. There was another cache just 800m from that one, so we thought we might try for that one. It had lots of favourite points and was by a stream, so sounded pleasant enough.
But the toddlers were tiring, and as we had no carriers with us they alternated between carries in arms and shoulder carries. L didn’t want to go on shoulders, she wanted to be cuddled, so her parents carried her in arms, each taking turns for a 5 minutes before their arms got too tired.
We got to the last little stretch before the cache and the ground was starting to get boggy. Box grew here and filled the air with its rather pungent aroma. We got to the stream and the cache appeared to be on the other side. But there was no bridge. It was a typical New Forest stream – wide and shallow, stony and red with iron. There was a fallen tree which made a bridge of sorts, but there was no way I was risking it with a baby strapped to me. L’s dad tested the tree and found it fairly stable, so he carried L across. Then M started grumping because L was on the other side and she wasn’t! But L wouldn’t be left alone, so her dad carried L back, then tried to carry both girls; L on his shoulders, M in his arms! But he stepped on what he thought was a log laying in the mud only to find it was floating in a mire, and sank to his knees. L was safe but M ended up covered in mud up to her waist.
Meanwhile my mum had removed her shoes and was wading across the ford. M was crying, so I took her and decided to carry her across. I handed E to Tom, popped M in the Moby (boy did that stretch!), took off my shoes and waded across. The stream was cold, but not unbearably so. The stones though were sharp and scratchy! Not helped by the added weight of 13Kg of toddler. Still, we made it and M and I walked barefoot to Ground Zero to find the cache. Thankfully it wasn’t hard to find and was dry and contained suitable goodies for swapping. M was very happy with a small pink rubber butterfly!
The walk back was straight forward enough. I was slightly miffed not to do a third cache which would have taken us on a slight triangular detour back to the car but everyone else wanted to get back which was fair enough.
Wet shoes, battered feet, muddy trousers. But worth it! Geocaching is like that sometimes.