When the weather changed, it was significantly suddenly Winter. Living in The North of The North of England, we tend to get some rather cold wind, harsh rain and the dark nights seem to loom over us all too quickly. It is far too easy to stay inside, and stay warm. But we’ve been so very busy in the last few months, getting some major DIY done that being stuck inside is exactly what I don’t need. And then there is Jasper, a 5 year old with so much energy and the will to run circles round you even when he’s tired.
So, one day, while Jasper and I were both free, we got in the car and drove to one of our favourite local places. We’re so very lucky, living were to do to have easy access to coast and country. The beach seemed a little too bleak, so we headed to The Hirsel, a lovely estate just over the Scottish Border, in Coldstream. Wellies and warm coats on, we were ready for anything.
The weather was pleasant, even if cold. But when you’re wrapped up in the right clothes, you barely notice. Billy Connolly once famously said “there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing”.
The Hirsel has a public walkway, set in the woodland and round the lake. There are local crafts, a tea room and a play park. So having parked the car, Jasper and I set off on the walk that goes round the lake. As soon as we hit the path, we noticed hundreds of acorns on the ground. And every so often we heard them falling to the ground. We looked up, and saw loads of beautiful oak trees. I showed Jasper the shape of the leaf, and explained how the acorns sit on the tree. I asked him what he thinks likes to eat them, to which he replied birds, squirrels, and mice.
When we’re out and about, I often talk to him about what we see, and he’s always interested. Jasper decided to make a collection of acorns and cups, twigs and leaves, all of which ended up in my pocket.
Number 1. We talked about trees.
As we continued on the path we got quite a shock as a male pheasant came running from the hedge and in to the wood. Although Jasper was also quite amused by the funny run it did. Then we noticed another little visitor, a red squirrel. It was wonderful to see. We stood statue still and hoped we didn’t scare it. But they are very shy, and was soon away up a tree, never to be seen again that day. Jasper stood for quite some time, trying to coax the squirrel back down to see us.
Number 2. Spotting Animals
We continued on our walk eventually, and found a very exciting tunnel in the trees. It is the pathway down to the hide by the lake. As we entered the wood, the light changed entirely and it became quite dark. The smell was wonderful. With branches winding themselves past others, and bushes growing in between, this was quite an adventure for Jasper. Jasper then mentioned The Gruffalo, just perfect for where we were. Love it. The Gruffalo is of course one of Jasper’s favourite stories.
Number 3. Gruffalo adventures in the deep dark wood
We got to the hide after our deep dark adventure, opened the wooden creaky door and I was pretty horrified. The hide has been built so you can look out across the lake, wildlife watching. Unfortunately it has been vandalised, and the plastic viewing windows have been melted with lighters, there is graffiti and chewing gum on the benches, and a general feeling of uncomfortableness. Not an ideal place for Jasper. So we took a photo looking out on to the lake, and left, feeling a little disappointed.
Number 4. Looking out from the hide
Our walk took us round the bottom edge of the lake, and Jasper led the way. We could hear pheasants in the fields, birds on the lake, and very little else. Was so peaceful. Jasper decided we needed to ride on imaginary tuk tuks, so here I was walking about, hoping not to bump in to anyone else as I was now making tuk tuk noises. As you do. This only ended when we came to a muddy bit on the path, where Jasper decided it was no good for tuk tuks, and instead we ended up on imaginary horses. He named mine Jeremy, his was Hammond. I was in one way amused, in another, slightly alarmed. But on we went.
Number 5. Tuk tuks and horses in the woods
On the opposite side of the lake, the path was starting to become quite muddy. But, no stopping us. As I said, you dress for the occasion, you’ll be fine. I do remember having wellies when I was younger, and the joy of being allowed to walk through mud was just amazing. So with much glee, we walked through much mud.
Number 6. Mud doesn’t stop us. We aim for it
Once we came back round the lake, we’d done the full circuit, and the wood opens up with fields that cows and horses graze in. We stopped to say hello to a cow, and then found a quiet bench to sit on by the lake. The light was beautiful on the water, and Jasper cuddled in. I asked if he’d had a good walk, to which he replied “I’ve had a good adventure.” Which just made me smile more. Lovely.
Number 7. Peace on a bench.
Number 8. Visit a cafe
The best way to end a muddy walk is to go for a cup of tea, or in Jasper’s case, a carton of apple juice. So we headed to the warm cafe.
Number 9. The playpark
Then for Jasper’s second wind, a trip to the play park that is located in the grounds near the cafe. Much swinging, bouncing, climbing and taking your toy Aston Martin DB9 on everything too.
I thought that was that, and we’d head back to the car parked round the corner in the car park. But when Jasper has wellies on, he’s like a brown and white spaniel, looking to get wet and dirty. And with that in mind, he made a bee line to some big puddles. Did I scream in horror and run in apparent slow motion to stop him? I did not, with his trusted wellies on, and the joy in his face, I watched him jump about in the water, having the time of his life. Just wonderful to see the glee in his smile.
Number 10. Splashing in puddles
It was a wonderful day, with much excitement, much to see, we felt the wind in our hair and the sun on our faces. so worth it to get out and about.
Jasper enjoyed it all the more with his warm Muddy Puddles coat and wellies on. We were gifted the items by Muddy Puddles to try out, and I am very grateful for such fabulous items. The coat shown is the Puddleflex Jacket, it has a warm fleece lining, is waterproof, has a full sized hood, ribbed cuffs to keep drafts out, a good length, and a double zip. I much prefer Jasper to wear a bright colour in Winter so he can be clearly seen when walking on paths near roads in the dark months of Winter. So the red is ideal. There are reflective patches on it for extra visibility at night. The coat is machine washable.
The wellies are also Puddleflex from Muddy Puddles. They are lined with a soft polar fleece for comfort, and have a quilted upper cuff with a draw string. When Jasper puts them on, he always comments on how soft they feel inside. They are lovely and long on the leg, which was great for the splashing and mud. Jasper’s trousers didn’t get dirty at all. There is a long reflective strip down the back of the leg, and good grips on the soles. The wellies come in their own cloth bag, which is ideal for storing them in once they have been cleaned. Jasper hangs them with pride on the back of his bedroom door.
The coat shown here prices at £50 and the wellies £24. Prices may differ due to offers available.
A range of great coats, jackets and wellies are all available on The Muddy Puddles website.
Thank you to Muddy Puddles for the items you sent us.
All opinions are my own.