The evenings are drawing in now, but they’re still light enough to be able to enjoy outdoor adventures after school. Autumn is such a beautiful time of year, and the lure of a sunny October afternoon is hard to resist. It was the perfect opportunity to head to Langley Park to collect some autumn leaves ready for some nature crafting.
Langley Park has always been a favourite spot for us. The girls always loved the playground and the staff in the cafe are always so friendly and welcoming. We usually head to the Temple Gardens first to follow the various paths through the gardens. There are arrows marking various trails through the park and Sophie loves to follow some of them.
I don’t think we’ve really explored the Temple Gardens since Jessica died. As we turned a corner, I suddenly noticed the bench. The one where we sat and posed with the scan photo of Thomas for our January Me and Mine photos. I could see us all sitting there; the beaming smile on Jessica’s face as she pointed to the scan photo of the brother she was never to meet. One of those moments when grief seems to knock the air from my body. It was all wrong to be standing there again with Thomas but without Jessica.
Sophie was running ahead though, oblivious to the significance of the spot where I was standing. I took a deep breath and headed after her. She was on a mission to find the perfect leaves to take home. She hunted for orange leaves, red leaves, crunchy leaves and big leaves. Every few steps she would stop to pick up another one: “ah this is a good one!”
The maple leaves are my favourite autumn leaves. I love the deep vivid shade of red they turn. Sophie gathered a few for her bucket along with some pine cones. She also tried to chase after the squirrels who were scampering around the gardens, but they were far too quick for her.
We stopped in the cafe for ice-cream before heading to the playground. As you can see, Sophie thoroughly enjoyed her ice cream.
The playground was fairly quiet – just a couple of other children there. Sophie was soon playing with a little girl who was about Jessica’s age. They had fun together on the seesaw, “selling ice creams” in the little wooden hut and sliding down the slide together.
Even in a familiar spot like a favourite playground, new discoveries can be made. This time Sophie noticed the bamboo bush in the middle of the playground. It made a perfect little den for her and her new friend.
Sophie also discovered that she could make it to the top of the mound over the tunnel if she took a good run up. She was so pleased with this new ability that she did it again and again.
On the way back to the car, the big leaves that she had collected made perfect wings for “flying” down the path.
“I wish they were magic leaves so I could really fly though, Mummy.”
Back home, Sophie wanted to use the leaves to decorate a picture of herself. I drew a cartoon version of Sophie and then she made leaf clothes for it. It was a fun way to finish off our afternoon.
Visiting Langley Park Country Park – what you need to know:
Langley Park Country Park
There is a large pay and display car park.
The park is open from 8.15am each day. Closing times vary throughout the year with the park closing at 4.30pm from late October – early February and 7.30pm in the summer months. For more details, click here.