Well, just to be different, Bob got the pictures on before I got my post up.
Yesterday was forecast to be rainy, but we wanted to do something anyway. When we got up the skies were perfectly clear so we decided to check out Thetford Forest park. By the time we ate breakfast and got ready it was starting to cloud up, but we went for it.
First we went to Tesco to get bread and bananas for the picnic. While there Bob remembered to buy minutes for his phone, which reminded him that he'd left his phone at home. Last weekend his phone battery went dead and he got in trouble at work because they couldn't get a hold of him. So we went back to the house and get the phone. Then we were on our way.
The park entrance is about 1/2 an hour from here. Traffic on one section was terrible, but it didn't last long. William was asleep when we arrived, but he gamely went along for a ride in the stroller with Ella. We checked out the store first, but there wasn't much there, so we started down a trail marked with a handicapped sign - we figured if a wheel chair could get down it, a stroller could. There were lots of other people there, but the path wasn't crowded. We pretty much walked along til we got to this cool tree, and the children crawled under it and around a side path back to the trail. When we got to the next tree like it, Ella climbed out of the stroller to go, too. She went under the tree, then came to me for a drink, and then disappeared.
We were at a 4-way intersection of path, plus the open under-tree area. We each went down a path, calling for her. Finally, I thought I heard an answer, and went toward it. "ELLA!" "Yes?" She was back down where we'd been, over a hill and around a corner. She was very surprised when we put her back in the stroller.
Just ahead was a themed play area - one of several we saw. There was a giant spider with web labyrinth, a bird nest, a woodpecker, a squirrel... I don't remember what else. Each at intervals along the path in the woods. After a bit it started to drizzle, so Bob had to put the camera away. We found a "campsite" area with 7 large rocks around a mock campfire, and a tipi nearby. We sat on the rocks and had our picnic of peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, chips, and cookies. Well, Riah stood in the tipi while the rest of us sat on the rocks.
There is a "high ropes adventure" called "Go Ape" in the forest. There is an additional charge for it, and we didn't do it, but we could see various parts of the trail above our heads as we walked. It is a series of rope ladders, zip lines, swinging bridges, climbing nets, etc across the tree tops. Bob took a few pictures of that - it looks pretty cool.
Then there was a "miniature go ape" for the children to explore, about 6 inches from the ground. That was the main playground area, and we spent awhile there. The 3 older children went on a zip line, and they all got the swing, slide, and climb.
To get to the squirrel play area we had to go through a maze of pine trees, and that area was neat. The light was red from all the dead needles, and it was quiet, and the trees protected us from the rain. It really started raining while the children were climbing the 3 story squirrel, so we called them back and headed for the woods again. It didn't look like it was going to stop raining soon, and we could see the entrance, so we made a dash across the open space to our car, where we dabbed off with paper towels and changed diapers.
It was only 1:45. We decided to go to Mildenhall (we needed a new surge protector since the children broke the old one). It was a bit of a drive over there (45 minutes?) and the children all went to sleep. Then we did our normal thing there, ending with dinner (at 4pm) at the food court.
On the way home we stopped at the Kennet train station and picked some blackberries beside the road there. I got a handful. There were oodles of blackberries in the forest, but they are still small and green. This whole blackberry thing is weird because in Oklahoma they come ripe in June. But a week or two ago I was in the back yard with the children, and happened to look up. There is a bramble growing up in the middle of the hedge, and it had a ripe berry on it! I got up to pick it, and found there were 12 all together - enough for us each to have 2. The two I got were the ones that were so ripe they smushed in my fingers, and they were so sweet! It tasted like flavored sugar. So ever since I have been looking for berries wherever we go, with not much success.
And that was Saturday.