About six months ago you bought a car. Your first car, which is quite an achievement for a thirty <cough> year old and shows just how much of your adult life has now been spent living in cities.
You bought the car for two reasons really. Firstly, to make the weekly shop less of a huge logistical performance. And secondly, to make it easier to get out of London sometimes.
You certainly didn’t buy the car to drive in London, which is a good thing as the times when you have thrown caution to the winds and attempted to have been marked by a lot of sitting in traffic, a complete lack of anywhere to park, and on one occasion, a congestion charge fine after being stuck in traffic and then not finding any parking resulting in an aborted, but ultimately very expensive, trip to the Imperial War Museum.
However, the problem with using the car to get out of London is that first you have to get out of London. And so you have developed a definite fondness for the A3, a route which does indeed whisk you away from the big smoke with the minimum of fuss and breathing other people’s petrol fumes.
So you are now looking forward to many years of visiting any and all tourist attractions within easy reach of your getaway route.
This inevitably means you are going to be spending a lot of time at RHS Wisley Gardens, where you went with the Star on Wednesday.
Or not, because you and the Star will have made such an impression on the long-suffering staff on this first visit, that thy may well pull up the drawbridge at the mere suspicion of your silver spanner pulling into the car park.
Which was surprisingly full. Although you later realised that because it isn’t in London, and because there is parking, it makes it a prime target for both the elderly and the very young. Particularly as under sixes get in for free.
The trip started well. It was the first in the series of glorious sunny days here in Southern Britain and the drive down only took a monumental forty minutes or so. The Star had had a nap in the car and was all fresh and happy, and soon the Gardens rang with the warning, “This one is for smelling, sweets, not for picking. Remember, not for picking.”
Surprisingly this actually works, and the sight of the Star solemnly bending over and sniffing in the general direction of a bloom reminds you irresistably of the grave demeanour of wine connoisseurs tasting the first sip of a new glass of vino. This makes you laugh quite a lot.
But the Star was more appreciative of the bugs the flowers attract. He followed the progress of bees from nectar source to nectar source, chased butterflies across grass, flowerbeds and picnicking mothers and children, and lay on the ground to study ants. Until, that is, you found a fish pond, with large numbers of huge hungry carp, who saw the shadow of a toddler looming over them and fought each other for the best position should the toddler’s Mama have thought to bring some bread. The Star thereafter refused to budge from the fish for a good twenty minutes, which was fine by you as you were in the shade, with a stout fence between the Star and the water and a nice post to lean against while he gawped.
When he had torn himself away from that, there was still a glasshouse full of interesting ferns and orchids and such to run round, and finally, a dedicated play area, which had considerably fewer brightly coloured metal and plastic swings and slides sets and considerably more strategically placed tree trunks and wigwams.
The Star loved the wigwams. He’s just discovered the concept of playing house and spent a happy few hours when your brother was around last, sitting in his little den of clothes horses and sheets opposite Uncle Urk’s den of clothes horse and sheets, performing domestic duties such as making the bed (out of a cushion and a blanket), insisting on synchronised sipping of water and indulging in the occasional visit between the two houses (“Knock knock!” “Who’s there!” “The Star!” He can keep this up for hours).
So the idea of frames covered by portable sticks just aching to be rearranged, into which and out of which you can carry wooden bricks* in self-important bustle directed by a bossy young lady of four who calls you ‘boy’, and where you can sit and indulge in a satisfying toddler gossip with some other two year olds, well, it almost topped the fish.
But after forty five minutes of relaxing in the shade on a bench you decided it would be a good idea to have some refreshment, particularly as the Star had just attracted the attention of two stick wielding older kids, and was showing signs of fighting back (note to self, teach the Star that if a child chases you waving a stick** menacingly, pick up a bigger stick to defend yourself with, not a twig).
So you set off towards the nearby cafe.
And this was where disaster struck, because somehow the Star fell over, probably twisting to take a better look at a passing worm, and as you were holding his hand at the time, you overbalanced and went down with him.
You managed not to land on the Star.
You also managed not to land on the Comet’s bump.
Unfortunately, in avoiding landing on your Firstborn or your Unborn, you managed to come down very awkwardly on your left leg, and within a few minutes of a concerned elderly lady picking you up, helping you to a nearby bench, rounding up the Star and sending her husband to the cafe for help, you realised you had a problem.
How were you going to get home? Your initial idea of getting one of the gardening vehicles to give you a lift back to the car and taking it from there receded into fantasy as your ankle started to really throb.
This was soon replaced by the more urgent concern of you feeling faint.
Being seven months pregnant and feeling faint after a fall is not a relaxing state to be in. It’s not a relaxing state for other people to be in either, which is why more staff were summoned, you were removed to the first aid room and an ambulance was called.
Of course, by the time the ambulance arrived, you were feeling better and while they checked you out thoroughly, it was soon clear they were not going to be recommending that you be rushed to hospital. The foot was merely badly sprained, and the dizziness was temporary. The Comet was kicking and all your vital signs were normal.
So you returned to the logistical problem of getting yourself, the Star and, preferably, the car, back to London.
It was at this point that you were forced to admit that you do not carry a mobile.
You made it sound like a temporary inconvenience. In fact, the Star nibbled the buttons off yours more than six months ago. You had been using your MiL’s, but she took hers back to Russia. In January.
So you borrowed the Operations Manager’s, he who was supervising your care. And who subsequently had to wheel you, the Star and the Comet the length of the Gardens in a wheelchair, load you all into the car, drive you to the nearest train station, and wait for his boss to come and pick him up.
By this time, it was well after closing time.
The Star, meanwhile, had been having a whale of a time. He had had a whole staff member assigned to him. She read him stories, gave him apple juice in a carton to drink, fed him an apple, the chocolate cake she had unwisely brought with her when summoned from her break, a banana and some cheese. She let him run up and down in the corridor outside and took him out to see the ambulance. She didn’t complain that she had to do this while enduring the powerful smell which he was letting off, having taken the opportunity of his Mama’s attention being elsewhere to poo his pants.
Luckily, you had a change of clothes with you. In the car.
Still, all’s well that ends well, and to cut what is now a very long story short, B was able to come out on the next train to drive you home. He collected your brother along the way, which was helpful as you were unable to move independently for two days, and are only now able to hobble slowly without having to hang on to bits of furniture or your husband. The hurt has subsided too. It’s more a dull ache than a blinding pain now.
Particularly when the Star decided he found it amusing to jump on your leg at regular intervals, being apparently skeptical at the negative response he got when he asked ‘Mama fixed?’ every five minutes.
Luckily, it’s for situations like these that Grandparents were invented. He’s had a lovely time this weekend.
Anyway, you can highly recommend RHS Wisley Gardens for all accident prone visitors, and to those who are able to remain on their feet also.
And in the meantime: send ice.
*The bricks are the only weak point of the play area. They are made of solid wood and quite heavy. The Star does not always distinguish well between square heavy bricks and balls, particularly when older children are slinging them round with abandon, albeit rather less dangerously aimed abandon than the Star does when he copies them. Still, the time out he got for that allowed you to get some water into him, and the baby did not appear to be permanently damaged, so that’s all right then.
** Actually, sticks the perfect size for picking up and playing swords with are also, on reflection, not such a good idea either.