Chickenpox and the worst picnic ever

E appears to have chicken pox. It’s very mild, and not really bothering her, but it still effectively quarantines us as I can’t take her anywhere there might be children or pregnant ladies.  Not looking forward to a day stuck inside with a 9 month old and a 3 year old, I decided we’d try to get out for some fresh air. M decided she wanted a picnic at the castle (a small ruined series of walls and nice bits of grass to sit on – perfect for children to play and explore and fab for picnics!). In the summer it’s usually teeming with families, but term time in February I anticipated it being very quiet.

The weather was pleasant, and the forecast decent enough (rain by evening, overcast but dry the rest of the day, and calm and mild), so we packed a picnic, grabbed a ball for a kick about, and headed out. For a change I put E in the pushchair which I had to dig out from behind the clothes horse, tent, bicycles, etc in the cupboard under the stairs. I figured it would make carrying the food easier, and since it was nap time for her I hoped she’d fall asleep, leaving me free to play with Molly while she slept in the seat.

E did fall asleep! Perfect! She dropped off halfway to the castle and was sound by the time we got there. However, I discovered the large gates that you can usually open to get buggies etc through were padlocked shut, leaving just the kissing gates for access. Great. I tried to get the pushchair through but the gap was too small.

We tried a different entrance (the castle is surrounded by small paddocks and woods with footpaths, and there are several possible routes in), and found another kissing gate, but one that was larger and could fit our pushchair. Then we had to struggle across a muddy track and up a rather steep slope (me with gripless trainers sliding all over the place trying to get the pushchair up!). Another kissing gate, and a narrow one, but I just managed to get through by wedging the pushchair at a very ungainly angle. Then a third barrier! But here there is a bar missing from the wooden fence, and we can JUST squeeze the pushchair under if we tip it back. Only we tipped it back a little too far and E woke with a start. So much for her sleeping while we played!

Meanwhile it had begun to rain. Slow, misty, drizzly rain. The kind that just. keeps. coming. I pushed E along the tracks and over the stones of the castle walls (if I had come through the first gate I’d have had no trouble at all! The other entrances involve a lot more all-terrain. M had a bit of a slip and got a muddy bum, but was unhurt and excited by the prospects of picnic. By the time we got to a grassy patch it was raining quite a lot. I found the the tree I had hoped to sit under had blown down in the recent storms, and while we tried to find a dry spot amongst its branches it was mostly bare, and we had no luck. I tried putting the picnic blanket down and trying to use my emergency size 7 Girasol wrap as canopy, but it was laughable.

In the end we just got the blanket on the grass and started eating despite the weather. E was mostly interested in eating the mud, and noticing the amount of un-cleaned-up dog mess around I as not keen for this to happen. Then M wanted to explore, so I let her go off while I gave E some milk. M climbed onto one of the stony walls, the called for me. I told her I’d be there in a moment, so she started trying to climb down. She was being very careful and steady, but she’s only 3 and inevitably she hurt herself; she scraped her stomach on the walls and had a nasty, large graze.

We tried to eat again. M climbed into the pushchair and hid under the rain hood. I decided enough was enough and slung E on my back in the quickest, sloppiest double hammock ever and grumpily shoved everything into the picnic bag.

We headed out the way we should have come in; I got M to climb out of the pushchair and hoisted it over the fence in a feat of supermummy strength, and we walked home as quickly as I could manage in the worsening rain. Normally when we are out and having a bad day or it it wet and cold we try and do something fun, like go to the cafe in town for a hot chocolate and slice of cake, or go to the charity shop and a mooch and play with the toys, but E’s poxy status required us to stay away from other human beings. So we came straight home.

Thankfully, E was in fine humour all throughout, despite the unfairness of not being allowed to eat mud, and getting all wet because I hadn’t packed a hat for her. M forgave my grumpiness and was perfectly happy watching Dumbo in the afternoon. We even managed some fun not-TV activities even though I was completely ready to just put Disney and Studio Ghibli films on loop all afternoon to make up for the crappy morning.

BUT I’m not all miserable. I have to put a positive spin on things, so here goes…

1. We had an adventure! We walked to the castle and back, through the woods, up and down hills and through mud. That’s good, character-building stuff.

2. E fell asleep in the pushchair! This is worth knowing. It’s good that she likes it, because it means we can justify keeping it in case inlaws etc want to take her out for a walk.

3. We made a den in a fallen tree! It was a crappy den and it didn’t stop the rain, but we made a den nonetheless. In nicer weather it would be AWESOME to go back and make a proper one, provided they haven’t removed the fallen tree.

4. I am going to take positive action and write a nice, polite email requesting the gates be unlocked. I have no idea why they were locked today, when the kissing gates were open. The castle is a very family-friendly, and moderately accessibly venue and if you lock the gates you deny access to pushchairs and wheelchairs which is not on.

5. We got out of the house, and didn’t come close enough to any other people to potentially poxify them. Win!


I honestly don’t know what face M is pulling. But here we are, off to the castle!


Ludgershall Castle


About mamathegeek

I am a mother to M and E, who are junior school aged children. I am a working mother, alternatively science geek and hippy. I work, sing, garden, photograph and try not to keep a tidy house. This blog is all about my experiences as a parent; contained within is everything from the very first days (nappies, poop, boobies, slings) to school days and beyond.
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