A week or so ago a message appeared in the Home Ed e-group I belong to (or should that be, lurk on?), suggesting an autumnal walk by the River Tillingbourne at Chilworth, with the added attraction of meeting some alpacas thrown in. So, even though I didn't know the lady organising it, or anyone who might be going, I thought we'd join in.
The idea of 'paddling' and 'dam building' was included so I made sure we were armed with three complete sets of clothes, all wrapped around hot water bottles, as well as hot chocolate and snacks and, this morning, we set off into the wilds of Surrey.
We met up with a lovely group of mums (one of whom I did know from a few years back) and lively children of varying ages and we strolled into the woods. Sticks, water and leaves were in abundant supply, with plenty of opportunities for collecting, climbing, investigating, paddling, dipping and running. We found an old tram-swing bridge which one or two of the children balanced across. Of course, it was my children. (Sometimes it's easier not to watch!)A little later we came across a shallow-ish part of the stream. My middle son took to 'extreme paddling' and was soon waist deep in November cold water, after a quick duel.Eventually, wellingtons emptied (for the second time this week), we meandered along and my son was stoic in the face of potential hypothermia. We met the alpacas of Chilworth Manor, the daddy of whom, Odin, was just as curious about us as we were about him.
By this stage my two wettest children were ready for the car so we hurried back and soon they were wrapped up in warm clothes, picnic blankets and sipping hot chocolate - worth getting soaked for!
It was one of the best mornings I have spent in ages. I enjoyed the adult company and the chance to be in the fresh air and surrounded by nature. My children had a great time with the others and the chance to really play in nature in a way that can seem so elusive in suburban life.
Even the best plans don't always work, but this morning was the perfect example of preparation and spontaneity going hand in hand, and the serendipity of the simple.
Thanks for the photos, uploaded from the e-group.