Two 40th birthday celebrations (mine and a friend’s) in Hampshire over the May bank holiday weekend provided the perfect excuse to spend a weekend in Petersfield, where I grew up. Most of our visits these days are brief day visits trying to catch up with various family members. Being there for a weekend meant we had some time to get out and about to explore too. We’d caught up with my extended family the evening before at my birthday party and were looking forward to some down-time together, just the four of us. I wish that last sentence could have read ‘the five of us’. Jessica is always with us though, carried in our hearts wherever we go, and we often talk about her and share memories on our days out.
We started off at Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Despite growing up in the area, it’s somewhere I’d never been before. Sophie was keen to find the playground so we started off at the tots play area. I loved that all the play area equipment was in the shape of wooden insects and animals.
The wobbly bridge was very wobbly but Sophie soon worked out how to cross it. Sideways like a crab.
She was very proud of herself for managing to climb up and over the butterfly (with a little help from Daddy the first time).
We had planned to do one of the walking trails. Sophie was still quite tired after the previous night’s party and was very grumpy about having to walk. Hubby tried to persuade her that a walk would do us all good but she wasn’t happy about it and we hadn’t even reached the start of the trail. I had the feeling that a walk in the woods at that point would end up being a miserable experience for us all and suggested that we head back to Petersfield Heath for a walk around the lake instead. There were a couple of geocaches to find, ducks to feed and a nice big play area there, plus I knew the walk was buggy friendly and Thomas was being very wriggly in the wrap!
Petersfield Heath was one of my favourite places to explore as a child. I was lucky that the walk to and from school for infants and secondary school took us through the Heath each day. As a teenager, it was the one place I always ended up escaping to when I was moody and I can still remember the little fairy tales I imagined around various spots on the Heath through my childhood.
Sophie was much happier for the change in plan. She enjoyed helping push Thomas around the lake, stopping every so often to look at the ducks. We didn’t have any food for them with us but I knew that the café sold duck food and promised her we would feed the ducks after visiting the playground.
I did consider going out on one of the boats on the lake. When I was younger, you could rent a rowing boat or kayak to take out on the lake. I think we once took Jessica out on a rowing boat. There are still boats available to hire but they were all pedaloes which was less appealing.
The playground at the Heath was my favourite one as a child. There have been lots of changes since then but the big slide that I loved and the big rocking horse are still there and much the same.
The roundabout was Sophie’s favourite thing. She spent ages there getting Daddy to help spin it around and around.
Thomas was very happy in one of the baby swings. So lovely to be able to include him more in the fun now.
Jessica always loved a day out at Petersfield Heath too. I could picture her so clearly in various places on our walk around the Heath. She was there playing in the sand; walking hand-in-hand with her cousins along the boardwalk; posing for a photo-shoot in front of the lake. I could imagine her pushing Thomas; could almost hear her adorable giggle. She loved it at the Heath. What beautiful memories we have of her there.
We picked up our duck food from the café and continued around the lake feeding the ducks as we went. There were lots of ducklings. We spotted some Mallard ducklings and some Egyptian Goose goslings.
We found another geocache before heading back to the car. This was the first geocache I ever found – although I hadn’t logged it before. It’s very high up in a tree and I couldn’t get it down. Having my very tall hubby with us meant we could finally retrieve it and log it!
Getting out and about was the perfect way to recharge our batteries after the previous night’s party. It was also lovely to revisit so many memories from my childhood and days out with Jessica while making new ones with Sophie and Thomas.