One of my favourite outdoor activities is looking for signs of fairies living in the woods. A little hole at the foot of a tree that surely must be a doorway to a fairy cottage. Little “elf hats” (acorn cups) discarded in autumn. Dewy webs on the ground – the remnants of a fairy picnic. With a little imagination, a walk in the woods becomes a magical adventure.
We’ve enjoyed a couple of fairies and elves trails at Black Park during school holidays. During the Easter holidays, we saw there was a similar one taking place at the Temple Gardens in Langley Park. This was the first time we’ve seen a trail at Langley Park. Unlike the ones at Black Park, we needed to book our slot in advance though.
The Temple Gardens is the perfect place for a fairy trail. It is a magical spot and is beautiful with the rhododendrons in bloom. They were just past their best at half-term but there were still plenty of blooms and the gardens looked stunning.
Sophie had a sheet with various activities to do along the way and I took charge of the map. The Temple Gardens is a bit of a maze. We probably would have been fine without the map though as there were plenty of arrows showing us which paths to take.
Each point on the trail covered a different aspect of fairy life – from finding a wand, to making fairy potions, spotting the elf washing hung up to dry or seeing the toadstools in Toadstool Town. There was also a little fairy hiding at each point for us to find.
I couldn’t help remembering the previous fairy trails that we’d done at Black Park. Seeing my two girls in their fairy wings together. Oh how Jessica would have loved this trail.
Having a limited number of prebooked tickets meant that the trail wasn’t quite as busy as some of the ones we’d done previously. There was plenty of opportunity to look for the hidden fairy and do the activity without it being overcrowded. That said, anyone taking a walk through the Temple Gardens could have easily followed the arrows around the trail to find the fairies. They wouldn’t have had the map or activity sheet, that was all.
Some of the hidden fairies were much easier to spot than others. The fairy visiting the fairy shops was the trickiest – we eventually spotted her high up in a tree!
It wasn’t until we were heading for the final point on the trail that I realised the trail would end at the old yew tree. This was our favourite tree in Langley Park. The girls used to love sliding their toys down the natural slides in the branches, climbing the tree and investigating the inside of the tree. One of my favourite photos of Jessica was her dressed as Little Red Riding Hood standing inside the yew trunk. I use another photo from that day as my Country Kids linky featured image. There are so many memories of fun moments at this particular tree and I hadn’t been able to bring myself to go back to it since Jessica died.
As you can imagine, it felt quite emotional to be back there. Picturing my girls together there, remembering the happy moments we’d had. I could see Jessica climbing the tree and sitting on a branch with a friend from Girls’ Brigade. I could imagine her delight at seeing the fairies’ tea party set up at the tree – making it even more magical for her.
We didn’t have any toys with us to go sliding down the tree. Sophie shared her memories of watching Jessica sliding her Kerry doll down it. We stood there for a moment and just remembered those beautiful memories. I can see Jessica in the photo of Sophie I took there. It’s the plaits and the way her hair is curling around her ear that looks a bit like Jessica’s glasses. A trick of the light but for a moment, my big girl was there too. Those occasional glimpses of Jessica in Sophie remind me that she lives on in her sister in many ways.
Sophie got to chose her reward at the end of the trail from a selection of small toys. It didn’t surprise me that she chose the pink sparkly wand! Another one to add to the dress-up box!
We stopped for lunch at the café before heading to the playground. I’d gone for an early lunch to avoid the rush. It did mean though that we arrived at the playground just as it started to rain.
I have to confess I did chuckle over how quickly the playground then emptied! Being prepared for wet weather meant the rain wasn’t about to spoil our fun – and now we pretty much had the whole playground to ourselves! Sophie’s favourite thing at the moment is running up the mound over the tunnel and standing on the top. This was soon followed by sliding down the other side on her tummy. She also tried to dry off the slide by sliding down it. It’s just as well clothes and children are washable – her dress and tights were rather muddy by the time we left!
It was lovely just to get outside for a magical adventure and to finish off with such simple fun in the playground. It is the moments like these that make for the most wonderful memories. I am glad that we have such lovely ones to look back on too.