Reconnecting with other heart families at Paultons Park

The heart family day out at Paultons Park has always been a highlight in our summer calendar. Last year, we missed out on it due to being in limbo over whether Jessica would have surgery over the summer. We ended up taking Jessica to Paultons Park later in the year for a birthday treat instead. Sadly, that was to be our last visit there with Jessica.


Sophie and hubby on Miss Rabbit's Helicopter Flight ride - "Reconnecting with other heart families at Paultons Park"


One of the things that I have struggled with since Jessica died is losing my identity as a heart parent. As hard as I knew it would be to return somewhere that held so many memories of days out with Jessica, I wanted to have a family day out again with the other heart families. To still feel that we were part of that community and to catch up with some of the friends we had made during our hospital stays. Losing a heart child affects everyone in the heart family community. It brings home the fear that we all live with as heart parents. I knew that this could be hard for our friends to cope with. Would we still be welcomed or would people avoid us?


I needn’t have worried. From the moment we arrived, we were greeted by another heart mum who gave us all a hug. Everyone we spoke to expressed their condolences but there was no awkwardness, no feeling of an elephant being in the room. Talking about Jessica was as natural as it had ever been. We were all heart parents, sharing stories about our heart children as we had always done. It didn’t matter whether they were with us physically or carried in our hearts. Of course, there was sadness that Jessica wasn’t there with her friends, but it meant so much to us to feel so welcome and know that we were still part of the heart family community.


Sophie giving the ray character a hug


We’ve tended to start off at Peppa Pig World on previous visits. This time we decided to leave it until the afternoon in the hope that the queues would be shorter. We started off at Critter Creek instead where Sophie enjoyed a train ride on Professor Blast’s Expedition Express.


Sophie on the Professor Blast's Expedition Express train ride


We then made our way over to Water Kingdom splash area stopping along the way to see a Tyrannosaurus Rex at the Alive Dinosaur Encounter. Thankfully it seemed to be quite a friendly one!


Sophie and Daddy meeting a Tyrannosaurus Rex


Sophie had a wonderful time playing in the water fountains in the splash area. We sat in the shade, chatting with another heart family while watching the children keeping cool in the water. I have to admit I was very tempted to join them there though!


Sophie having fun in the splash area


Playing in the splash area occupied most of the morning. There was just enough time afterwards for Sophie to have a ride on Seal Falls before it was time to meet up with the other heart families for a picnic. Watching Sophie on Seal Falls brought back a lot of memories. She and Jessica loved going on this ride together. It was one of their favourite rides outside Peppa Pig World.


Sophie on the Seal Falls ride


One of the things I love about Paultons Park are the pretty gardens. These are lovely to walk through when heading between different areas. They also provide perfect spots for having a picnic. We met up with the other families near the Japanese Garden. Our busy morning seemed to have tired Sophie and Daddy out though!


Sophie and Daddy walking through the Japanese Garden


Sophie and Daddy having a nap in the sunshine


It was lovely to see Sophie making friends with the other children. There were a couple of little girls in particular that became her new “best friends”. Watching her walking hand-in-hand with her new friends reminded me so much of how she and Jessica were together. I even heard her telling one of her new friends about Jessica in her usual matter-of-fact style: “I have a sister called Jessica, but she isn’t here anymore.” It was lovely to hear her talking about Jessica again although it did also make me aware once more of how much she must miss her big sister and the beautiful bond they shared.


Sophie walking hand-in-hand with one of her new "best friends"


One of the things we always have to do at Peppa Pig World is get a strawberry milkshake from Daddy Pig’s Big Tummy Café. Jessica was never keen on milkshakes (even when I told her it was melted strawberry ice-cream). Sophie and hubby love the thick strawberry milkshakes at Peppa Pig World though. While Daddy was in the queue getting the milkshakes, Sophie and I explored Peppa Pig’s House.


Sophie with Mummy Pig, George Pig, Peppa Pig and Daddy Pig in Peppa Pig's House


Sophie was keen to try out the two new rides at Peppa Pig World. As expected, these had the longest queues but we didn’t have to wait more than 20 minutes for either which wasn’t too bad. Sophie loved looking at the views across Peppa Pig World from her carriage ride on The Queen’s Flying Coach Ride.


Sophie and Daddy on the Queen's Flying Coach Ride


Hubby took Sophie on Grampy Rabbit’s Sailing Club ride as this one wasn’t recommended for pregnant women despite looking like a very gentle boat ride.


Sophie and Daddy on Grampy Rabbit's Sailing Club Ride


It was very hot waiting in the sunshine. I was quite relieved when hubby suggested going to George’s Spaceship Play Zone afterwards to try and get out of the sun and cool off while Sophie had fun in the soft play. It was certainly much cooler in there than it was outdoors!


Sophie having fun in George's Spaceship Play Zone soft play area


Once we’d all cooled down, Sophie and hubby headed over to George’s Dinosaur Adventure ride. I made sure I stayed in the shade this time while waiting for them!


Sophie and Daddy on George's Dinosaur Ride


Sophie bumped into one of her “best friends” from earlier in the day at Daddy Pig’s Car Ride. She and her new friend enjoyed going on this together. It was one of the few rides that I could go on too! Her friend’s mum then took them both for a ride on Grandpa Pig’s Boat Trip before it was time for Sophie’s friend to go.


Sophie and her friend on Daddy Pig's Car Ride


Hubby and Sophie finished off the day with a ride on Peppa’s Big Balloon Ride and Miss Rabbit’s Helicopter Flight. As we’d found before, the queues were very short at this time of day so it was worth leaving them to the end.


I was so glad that we’d been able to have a day out with other heart families again. I did find the day quite emotional at times. As with Legoland, there were memories of Jessica everywhere we went and my heart ached so much for my big girl. It was good to be able to talk about her so freely and easily though and to be reassured that we are still part of the heart family community. Sophie particularly enjoyed making new friends and hopefully we’ll get to see some of them again at another meet-up.


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

20 thoughts on “Reconnecting with other heart families at Paultons Park

  1. Oh that post brought tears to my eyes but in a sad but good way. I think it is amazing that you are sharing your journey and that other heart children parents may find it and it alleviate their fears, and obviously I am so glad that you are still very much a part of your community with no awkwardness.

    I have to admit we tend to spend too much time in Peppa Pig World and not really explored a lot of the rest of the park. The Sailing boat ride can be quite bumpy when it knocks into the sides.

    1. It was so lovely to still feel so welcome in the heart family community. We usually spend most of the day in Peppa Pig World too but we try harder to explore other areas now as well.

  2. I am not at all surprised you were warmly welcomed by everyone in the heart family community. They must be just as thrilled you are still wanting to stay part of their community after Jessica and how wonderful to see Sophie making friends of her own in there now and telling the other children all about her sister. All these first visits to familiar family places must be so hard but I admire how you are handling it all and allowing Sophie to flourish and take everything in at her own pace. It looks a really lovely day out under the circumstances.

    1. Thank you Fiona, it was a lovely day out although hard too being our first time back since losing Jessica. It made such a difference to us to know that we were still very much a part of the heart family community.

    1. It was hard to go back but it made such a difference to know that we are still part of the heart family community and to still feel so welcome.

  3. It sounds and looks like you had a fab day out….
    The heart community is amazing. I know that from when my girls went through their surgery. I am still in touch with a lot of heart parents and they are fab.
    Sophie is such a lovely girl. I am glad she can make friends so easily. #CountryKids

    1. Thank you Kim. The heart community is wonderful and I’m so glad that we are still able to be a part of it.

  4. I’m so glad that you had a good day Louise, it must have been very hard at times. Wonderful to hear how you were all welcomed and made to still feel part of the community. I’m glad that Sophie had such a good time making new friends x #countrykids

  5. Such a lovely trip! I think that sharing something special with other families really gives you something to bond with. You so deserve the warmth from The Heart Community as I know how much you are campaigning for them. #countrykids

    1. They are such a lovely community and I loved watching Sophie interacting with the other children.

  6. Ah, more lovely memories and another step taken on the path of grief. We’ll done for going along, no doubt you’ve got some lifelong friends in the heart group even if you’re at 6s and 7s about it now. #CountryKids

    1. Thank you Lucy. We do have some lovely friends in the group that we’ve known since the early days and knowing that we are still part of that community means a lot.

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