I had set aside today for getting my application ready to start doing some supply teaching work, but Mia has been looking at me lately implying that she has been reading Adventures with Alfie with a hint of ‘When are my adventures going to happen?’ The truth is we have had loads but never recorded them until now. Last week I promised Mia and Millie that I would have a word with the lady of the house and sort it out for this week. When we agreed on today, it was all set up for a sleepover followed by the Great Magical Mystery Tour.
I had ideas in my head but needed to check out the day first as the place was new to me as well.
The girls woke early; Millie had her morning drink and snuggled back under for an extra half hour. Mia always sleeps with Bes in her double bed. John Denver once sang about his Grandma’s Feather Bed. Bes’s bed, too, is legendary and Mia always shares it. John Denver’s song says ‘Didn’t get much sleep but we had a lot of fun in Grandma’s Feather Bed… and I suspect from the oft heard giggles after ‘lights out’ that Bes and Mia always enjoy these times! Today though Mia was despatched early to let Bes catch up with her beauty sleep. So, Mia came in to wake me up – I was faced with a choice – send her back to Bes’s bed, send her to the nursery to have a bit more sleep there, or get up and have some fun. The opportunity to spend some fun time with my eldest grandchild was too good to pass up! I had a good scratch and a cough and I was ready for what this brand new day could offer. Mia and I had some toast to keep us going till breakfast and proceeded to make the lady of the house her first cup of tea of the day. Many years’ experience has taught me it pays to keep the dear lady happy. Mia and I tried some early morning TV but all those presenters calling everyone ‘guys’ and sounding so energetic and cheerful put me off, so we settled for a viewing of the old Disney film Pinocchio. We both loved it, snuggled under a blanket, covered in toast crumbs yet blissfully happy. The song “There are no strings on me…’ reminded me of Mia. She is becoming so independent lately and turning into a lovely young girl, full of questions and starting to ask ‘why’ after every question or request. I love it… she is so delightful and I treasure the times I spend with her. I have many lessons about life to share with her. Millie in the meantime was enjoying her cuddles and preparing for the day. Millie is so wonderful, the sweetest, gentlest child imaginable who is becoming a big rival to Alfie in the smiles department…. and that takes some doing!!! Her piercing blue eyes are striking and add to her beauty. We were in for a great day.
Today though was different…very different. Adventures with Alfie are just the boy and me… quick bread and cheese wedge; spare nappy and we are off. Adventure with the girls means the lady of the house has to accompany us… so it was breakfast, and then an age waiting for her to prepare everything Cath Kidston! There was a Cath Kidston rucksack for each little darling, a Cath Kidston baby bag with nappies, cream and a spare of everything, a Cath Kidston cup and bottle and I am sure even Cath Kidston dirty nappy bags. I am certain in my mind that the dear lady was about to call me Cath… before correcting herself, regaining her dignity and saying ‘Fatboy, get the Cath Kidston pushchair in the car and be quick!’ Quiet obedience followed!
I had prepared a CD of kids’ songs for the journey and we set off singing merrily about the Wheels of the bus going round and round. It was great fun. When we sang about a Flippy Floppy scarecrow, I felt quite sorry for him. I began to wonder how old he was and if anyone cared for him in his flippy floppy state. I nearly caused a multi vehicle pile up as we headed over the Cogan Flyover. We were singing ‘If you’re happy and you know it’, when verse four came on and at my age I’ve got to say I found it quite difficult to clap my hands, stamp my feet, nod my head and goodness knows what else, whist negotiating the mid-morning traffic. I think I just about managed it. We were headed for Cefn Mably Farm; it was so lovely to hear Mia singing along to all the songs. When It’s a Small World came on the lady of the house and I exchanged knowing glances and without words being used we both agreed, just with a smile, that another visit to Paris is long overdue!
I had my journey planning spot on because as we approached the farm, the car CD player was playing Old McDonald had a farm… perfect timing.
We didn’t really know what to expect but it turned out to be a kids’ paradise! I have always thought much about the difference between being childish and being childlike. I firmly believe, even when we are grown, if we can retain a child like outlook on the world we will enjoy life so much more. Forty years in teaching helps me look at the world through a child’s eyes and I was as excited as Mia and Millie as we arrived and saw this big transit van painted pink with ears on top and a tail behind. How cool was that! Sadly for me though, in my life, I was too often childish and it got me into trouble far too often. I remember time I was about forty five and drove into a ditch while playing air guitar to Bohemian Rhapsody at full volume or the time I broke the church organ doing what I thought was a fantastic imitation of Lurch from the Addams Family. You will be interested to know I am slowly beginning to settle down.
Cefn Mably Farm has a large indoor area containing settees and tables and chairs, a large café serving both drinks and hot meals. It also has a fantastic children’s soft play area, with one section for the fours and under and another section for the over fives. There is also a covered outdoor section where there is a range of farm and domesticated animals in clean pens. Mia was beside herself and let us know it was the animals she wanted to see first. We had already bought a bag of food and she was off! She adored them all, from rabbits to guineu pigs. There were goats and sheep and even three little pigs in one enclosure. As we were looking I was reminding Mia and Millie of the story and true to form as I was telling the story one of them did ‘Huff’, another ‘Puffed and the third one blew off judging by the awful smell that surrounded the enclosure.
At one place Mia was invited to hold the rabbits and guineu pigs, which she did lovingly and with great care and patience, staying there until one particular little black creature finished a whole piece of carrot! There were also some pedal tractors there, free for the kids to use. Mia was in heaven! Millie too enjoyed looking at the animals, not quite sure what to make of some of them.
Outside, there was an open area with some tiny horses, Shetland ponies and some more sheep and pigs. Then the big challenge came when we saw a sign announcing…. horse rides £2 a go. Mia had no idea what we were suggesting I am sure, but willingly agreed to a horse ride. I paid my two pounds, she donned a hard hat and looking somewhat unsure went on this ride on a tiny horse that looked like something out of the 2012 Barbie Annual, with its bleached blonde mane and fluttering eyelashes. She was wonderful and overcame her fear with grace and a dignity that belied her years. Wonderful memories!
We scrubbed our hands, as instructed by the signs, and made our way to lunch. Millie was starving and ate straight away. Mia and I headed for the soft play area and boy did we have fun! We had to juggle a bit with a bit of bending and pushing but I did eventually get my head low enough to get passed the height restrictions.
After lunch Millie joined us and we had a wonderful time. Millie was so lovely crawling around and playing so well with all the equipment. At one time a little incident happened which caused me to smile. A young boy aged about four came into the ball pit and in the course of their play, picked up a ball and threw it hard right into Millie’s face. Mia was shocked, but lovingly put her arm around her little sister, made sure she was okay and then proceeded to tell the boy not to throw balls at her sister’s face and showed him how to throw the ball away from her. It was a touching little moment that would have been easy to miss but caused me to reflect that as they grow up together these two beautiful little people will need and support each other and I have no doubt Mia will be the most marvellous big sister to Millie. I will watch them grow with interest and much love.
As I sat there up to my knees in balls and coloured cubes and I just thought that if we try hard enough, even ordinary days can become adventures if we just take time to look through the eyes of a child!
As we made our way out of this lovely little place Millie fell asleep between being lifted out of the high chair and being placed in the pushchair. Mia just made it to the car before slipping gently into her dreams. Both slept soundly, both with smiles on their face and happy memories of an ordinary September day when together, we made special things happen. No singing on the way home, although the lady of the house and I kept the kids CD playing all the way home. It had been a magical day.
As we drove along the road towards St Mellons my dear one gazed with great affection at our sleeping girls, then looked lovingly across at me and said ‘I think I’d like an old goat? I tried not to looked puzzled… I thought she already had one!
Mia and Millie may not remember this day, but there are two old people who will and one of them is putting an application form for supply work back in the drawer.