So when Heather arrived on Sunday for her visit, she brought Kayleigh with her. And because it was Andy's and my wedding anniversary we all went out for dinner at the pub along the road, which was lovely; and because we had the small child with us, it also involved a certain amount of making pirate faces from pancakes and sweets and playing on the slides and climbing equipment in the pub garden at gone 9 p.m even though dusk was descending and there was a chill wind blowing around the nethers.
Yesterday, we had a day at Hawkstone Follies. If you are ever in the vicinity of North Shropshire, I HIGHLY recommend you visit this park. However, make sure you wear decent shoes for walking and climbing, and take a torch for the caves. We were very brave and did most of the longest walk which took 2 and a half hours and involved signposts saying things like 'Strenuous', 'Precipitous', 'Narrow', 'Steep', 'If you don't like heights, don't go this way', 'Jungle', 'Cliff', 'Slippery'...oh, you get the drift. All I can say is, that by the time we finally arrived back at base i.e soft, flat grass and 5 minutes from the tea room, we were all sweating buckets, reconciling ourselves to muscles we never knew we had and not quite believing we had actually completed the route. It was like 'Indiana Jones Does Body Pump Combat with a side serving of High Intensity Military Boot Camp Zumba.' Even Kayleigh, who then decided she wasn't going to miss out on a go on the children's play area, ran towards it on floppy, wobbly little drunken spider legs which made us all laugh.
Next time I shall take crampons, rope, walking sticks and some Kendal mint cake. But the views were spectacular (especially from the top of the tower - 150 steps) and the trees, the rock formations and the caves quite amazing. It is a good place for a bracing expedition and for maybe taking a writing note book, or an artist sketch pad. Just make sure you pace yourself so you don't blind yourself to all the views with sweat dripping into your eyes.
Today, we went for activities a little more genteel. After showing Heather the delights of Market Drayton (she liked the town but was appalled by the lack of apostrophes on retail establishment signage that belonged to people like Julie, Dave, Sue) we went to an antique market just up the road. Now, when I say 'market' I am describing something that would probably fill a sizeable aircraft hangar. It is MASSIVE! I thought Kayleigh might be bored, but Heather and I are interested in this kind of emporium, so I am afraid she was going to have to tag along whether she liked it or not. And as it turned out, like it she did!
Armed with the £10 she had brought with her for spending money, she ventured forth into the Aladdin's cave of treasure and tat, and immediately homed in on a small brass turtle with a hinged shell. I said, 'Don't buy the first thing you see - take your time. We've only been here 30 seconds and you might find something you like better.' Sage advice, I thought, from a sage gran.
On we went then. The next thing that caught Kayleigh's eye was a magnifying glass. Then a glass paperweight. Then a small brass pocket telescope, 1915, which collapsed into a neat wooden case, and which I was rather taken with myself. But then she spotted...
And from then on in, the blinkers were on. All thoughts of turtles, telescopes, magnifying glasses and paperweights were forgotten. The guitar was the prize. Heather bravely tried to distract her with a bugle, but no. It was a guitar or nothing. And eventually, good old Grandpa tracked down a child-sized instrument and purchased it for the grand sum of £15. It has a string missing, but Andy has, with the patience of a saint, been talking Kayleigh through the beginnings of guitar playing.
Tomorrow, she wants to learn to knit...
Rantings, ravings, observations and musings, useful stuff, silly stuff, funny, sad and thoughtful guff!