It’s never the same twice.

We went back to one of our favourite spots at Soberton. Having learnt from previous occasions, I made several changes: an off road pushchair, an alternative path with no stairs, an extra bag of baby items and swimming gear for the boys. Of course, we still ended up in several pickles but what made it fun was that these were ‘new and exciting’ difficult situations.

After successful parking and accurate navigation we were off to a good start. It didn’t last long. As we walked up a pavement-less, narrow road, a lorry (the size of a small house) drove towards us. When you have the world’s widest buggy, it quickly dawns on you that is no where to stand to the side and prepare to about turn. Luckily, the HGV driver was feeling lovely and reversed a short distance to a passing area. We ran towards it in excitement.

The nettles had teamed up in advance to make it as tricky as possible for a group of people wearing shorts to pass. We survived sting free and did a spot of cheerio racing in the stream (using those that weren’t immediately eaten). However, approximately 3 minutes later, the rain began. We sheltered under the tree over a bridge and contemplated whether it was actually summer and we’d looked at the forecast for the wrong day.

Amusing ourselves as the rain passed.

The rain was short lived. We enjoyed splashing about, running around, launching a tennis ball in all directions and an early picnic. Youngest son was keen to explore himself and fondly waited until middle son was sitting or clinging to Mummy before making a dash towards the river bank. I’m pleased to report that my reaction time is still fast enough to keep the small person out of the water, although apparently not fast enough to prevent eldest son hurling his brother’s changing bag into the river beside me. Top tip: I suggest that if your offspring ever want to play catch with you, they choose a more appropriately shaped object and don’t throw it whilst you have your hands full of toddler!

It seemed like a good time for the littlest to nap so we got dressed and went for a wander. He was quickly asleep and oblivious to the fact that we stopped to throw twigs in another section of river. The bigger boys played there incident free for some time until I told them we were moving on; at which point eldest fell in. He’d already picked up a footprint shaped mud patch on the back of his T shirt so the additional muddy shorts didn’t bother him. The sopping wet shoes and socks did! He ended up wearing his brother’s sandals (only 4 sizes too small) as a compromise. It turns out that if your toes stick out over the edge they are more likely to get covered in mud.

Before he got wet feet.
The feet by the time we got back

This was all before reaching a large stile and realising the youngest was still asleep. We got the pushchair over but in the absence of a third adult we first needed to remove the baby and leave him in the capable hands of a pair of 7 year olds while we lifted it. Needless to say, he didn’t stay asleep!

Wetsuits are for wimps

My audacious offspring and I fancied exploring a new part of the Meon Valley trail so picked one of Hampshire’s beautiful little villages that appeared to be located nearby. I made several attempts to find a friend to join the boys. We found someone, who apparently likes to partake in traditional, but wacky outdoor activities as much as my children do.

Upon arrival I realised that my phone battery had only 4% charge left. The phone can be very unpredictable at times, it has been known to last an entire evening on 1% but is just as likely to randomly turn itself off when opening an app to meet up with the husband. Navigation would need to be completed the old fashioned way. Conveniently, we discovered a map at the village church. As a result, we were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves, until our friends arrived – equipped with a professional looking Ordinance Survey map.

How to navigate when google maps is draining your phone battery.

One dead end and two downpours later, we found a route onto the disused railway line and began our adventure. Middle son reached new levels of speed on his bicycle with a new face to compete against; while eldest son tried to cover up the fact he couldn’t keep up, by attempting to cycle up a ridiculous steep bank – a challenge I’m sure even superman would struggle with. This was the first of many pit stops before the discovery of some stairs leading down to the river and its crystal clear waters.

Making a splash.

The boys gradually shed clothing as assorted items were splashed or walked on by pesky siblings. I attempted to tidy them under the pushchair to salvage them from from future unfortunate events. What I achieved, was a a forehead full of stinging nettle as I bent down to retrieve them.

Youngest son contemplating how best to fall in head first without mummy noticing.

Having enjoyed our lunch sat in a muddy puddle (where the water was churned up against the bank then splashed onto the walkway), a lady passing by enquired why we weren’t sat at the picnic area. As it turns out, this was only a stones throw away. It was our next destination. Middle son managed to slip on the way. His only remaining item of clothing was now both wet and muddy! Tip of the day: always carry a towel.