I had been taken with a post from Time to Craft a few weeks back who had been night hunting for toads. I realised we must be behind on our annual tour of the farm for frogspawn. It was a sunny day and I suggested to the children that we go exploring. Theo piped up that he had already seen lots across Coombe Bridge close to their new *secret den*. I asked if we could all look and he was more than happy, but there was to be no sharing of the den location. Agreeing not to ‘pry’ on their den whereabouts we donned our wellies and set off. The floods from the winter had made the going much easier on the far river bank than I remember in previous years and I could see why the children had chosen to play over here. They each grabbed a stick en route; the essential aid to any woodland walk!
Soon we were in some still marshy waters close to the river bank and there were massive clumps of frogspawn. Clio reached down to touch it but was not keen on the jelly like texture.
We waded across the bog careful not to disturb the frogspawn and I could sense we were close to the boys den. I didn’t have to look too far before I found a tell tale sign by way of an old spade head and a bamboo cane from our greenhouse embedded into the ground.
This had to be the entrance. It opened up inside to a sheltered natural den beneath the leaves with some lovely low branches which the kids all claimed as their seats and had engraved their names on a previous visit. They now proudly showed me round since I had rumbled their special place.
Having shown off their den we decided to continue our forest walk. This side of the river is not on Coombe Mill land and usually quite inaccessible, but post the storms, floods and before the summer growth had really taken off we found it quite easy to walk. We headed towards a clearing and saw a caravan and old cars in the distance. “I wonder who lives there?” asked the children. They hid behind trees and crept slowly closer. I was quite unaware what we would find but knew that years ago a bee keeper had his bee hives near here and we used to sell his honey in our shop.
When we came close it was obviously deserted but the children were fascinated. I think they thought they were like the famous five and stumbling over some hidden bars of gold. Guy knocked carefully on the caravan door, then opened it and peeped inside. Curiosity got the better of them and they all had a timid poke around the rotting caravan and surrounding vehicles taking in all they saw with wide eyes.
Then the wooden padlocked shed caught their attention, the only place they hadn’t been able to look inside. Guy found some rotting panels on one side and they all squinted to see inside.
Then he noticed the door only looked locked with a padlock but was in fact open, they were amazed by the old lights, left sleeping bags and old books. I skimmed the titles quickly to ensure there was nothing unsuitable!
They noticed an old ladder, a washing line and a small fire clearing for cooking and began to imagine themselves as explorers staying here before replacing the padlock on the door to leave everything as they found it and head homeward leaving their mystery world behind.
We glanced back from Coombe Bridge but there was no sign from here of the secret life we had uncovered.
It clearly inspired the children as they then decided to get the tent out and pitch up on the trampoline for the night. I left the outside light on and door unlocked for them in case they changed their minds but they stayed the night and Nick found them bouncing on the trampoline early in the morning in their onesies. I wonder what adventure stories they told each other over night?
Joining in with Country Kids
Country Kids is all about fun in the outdoors, escaping technology, screens and sofas and enjoying some family time in the fresh air. Posts on days out to the beach, woods, park or even just enjoying the garden are welcome and urban trips too. Whether it is play, crafting, learning or exploring I’d love you to get out there, have some fun, grab the badge and come and share those smiling faces and rosy cheeks here on the linky. There is a wonderful community of support for outdoor ideas building here each week and I urge you to join in by checking out the other posts too.
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“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.