comments 13

How to rescue a disastrous day

ImageThe day was looking disastrous.  I’d planned a walk up the hill, and it was raining.  In addition to this, I was tired after all the extra time it’s taken me to get to work this week without a car.

I always feel anxious when I am taking other children out that they have a nice time and the struggle of a wet walk, or just mooching around the house with nothing to do, filled me with dread.

At least Car was back, on weekend release.  (I’m not into this thing of naming my vehicle, or assigning it a gender.  Come to think of it, my Cat was called Cat for quite a while, too.)  They took pity on me at the garage, although I have to take it back in on Monday to have it finished off.

Miraculously, the rain stopped about five minutes before we were due to leave.  Lovely Daughter’s Friend was really excited.  They are both very enthusiastic together, which is why they are good friends.

I’d done this walk a couple of times before, but it was a long time ago.  I vaguely knew that I needed to go upwards, and in the direction of the town, so this is what we did.

Lovely Daughter’s Friend is super fit and was charging up and down the little cols like a mountain goat.  Although I am going climbing for the first time tomorrow, I draw the line at bouncing up and down skiddy chalk slopes, because I don’t want to break my ankle and not be able to drive home.  LD also decided to have a go at charging up and down, and at one point lost her footing and sort of rolled down the hill like a cheese.  But was OK.

The Down is really beautiful.  It’s a sort of chalk feature (I don’t know the exact terms), basically very craggy and with loads of plains of wild flowers and butterflies and trees, but also different little hills to explore.  At the moment, it’s seems to be some sort of scabious that is flowering all over the sunny sides of the hills:


After I’d puffed my way to the top of the hill, I realised that I needed to leave this:


behind me and somehow find my way to looking at something like this here town instead:


As I mentioned, I get nervous about taking other children out, and about my children socialising with other children.  When I was a child, we didn’t socialise with others and I didn’t really understand the rules of socialisation.  It was OK when I was at my infant school, because we’d all grown up with each other and accepted each other.  But when I moved house at the age of nine, I was totally unable to cope with the basic rules of being with new, unknown people.  Instead of taking an interest in others and taking account of their feelings, I could only think that being good at things, the unreachable goal at home, would make me a good person, deserving of other people’s friendship.  At the same time, I desperately wanted people to like me, so I tended to give way to any and everybody else’s opinion and agree with them.

I always worried like mad that my children would end up out of things, like I did as a child.  Especially as I’ve always been out of things a bit socially as an adult as well, not really having a defined group of people similar to me to hang around with as they grew up.  But LD and LDF were getting on like a house on fire, conjecturing together on how the direction of the wind affected the shape of the funny little warped trees.  And they thought the views were stunning, too, so I was relaxing a bit.

As well as doing this walk with friends, I’ve actually done this walk as a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award leader.  I was a pretty rubbish leader, though.  I’m not that great a navigator.  It’s just as well that the point of the Award is for them to learn how to do that part of it themselves. I was definitely a bit nervous about getting lost, which would make for a very bad day out, so I was glad to recognise this curved path:


and see that the town was getting closer as walked round it:


On the way, LD and LDF enjoyed the first sweet blackberries of the season, from a sun soaked run of bushes:


Then it was down into the woods:


Was a bit hairy walking on a permanent sideways slope, leading down into a very steep incline.

And then was very glad finally to see the top of the town:


I was too shy to take a picture of someone’s house, but that yellow one is the one I would want if I ever move to the town.  It has its own carport, and above it, a roof terrace garden.  It’s quiet and lovely on this lane leading up to the hill, and just below, it has a children’s bookshop, fish and chips, cafes, antiques… what more could you want?

The weather clearing up helped the day go with a swing, but also being able to let go a bit and appreciate that my children are not me.  It was nice watching LD with her friend, and thinking, yeah, she’s fine.  She can do this, no problem.  I just need to be a bit less anxious and remember that I am not responsible for everyone’s happiness, because everything will probably turn out just OK.



  1. I miss hills.

    Then again, if I wasn’t in Singapore, I’d probably miss being warm all the time, so it’s a matter of concentrating on the good in the situation, rather than the bad.

    But still, I miss hills. Particularly the Downs, although I have a greater love for the North Downs, from years of skidding over them on my bike, than the South Downs (where my all-abiding memory is getting to Ditchling Beacon and almost fainting from exhaustion.

    Hope you enjoyed climbing today. From what I know, climbing outside on chalk would be really punishing – like ice climbing, but more fragile – whereas indoors you can adjust the difficulty to suit your ability much more easily.

    • I miss being warm 😦 Weather turned today.

      Ahhh memories of Ditchling Beacon,.. where we took a Duke of Ed’s group… the windmills, the views… and two of them suddenly deciding they needed a poo.

      Indoors – predictable – like…

      Yes, hills are good. Are you going to stay in Singapore forever do you think?

  2. Every parent is anxious, always about their kids. Enjoyed reading, beautiful countryside you are lucky to live there.

    • Definitely lucky to live this life and very lucky that the weather held yesterday – it poured this afternoon.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Oh how I love walks such as these…glad you didn’t get lost though 🙂
    Denise, I relate to so much to what you share here about how you felt growing up with the whole social thing and also your feelings about your kids too. I could say so much but I would be here all day. What I will say is that you summed it up perfectly in your last sentence about ‘not being responsible for everyone’s happiness, because everything will turn out ok’. It took me a very long time to learn that. I look back and think I wish I hadn’t been so anxious. It sounds trite, but when I learnt to ‘enjoy the moment’ I started getting so much more out of life instead of constantly worrying about the next thing. Not that I’m fully ‘there’ yet, but it is a journey. You are doing a wonderful job 🙂

  4. You couldn’t fail to rescue a disastrous day by taking that wonderful walk – the countryside around there is beautiful – all those rolling downs provide fresh air like no other!

    • It didn’t feel like that when I was huddled indoors feeling exhausted and wanting to go back to sleep. I felt like it was going to be a massive chore. Sometimes my body can only remember or imagine the state it is in at the moment. Luckily my mental memory was strong enough to prevail.

      You are right, it really is beautiful in this area.

  5. Thank you for sharing those lovely pictures of your walk. I haven’t quite figured out which part of the UK you live in yet (south somewhere I presume – will have to go read more of your blog to find out!) but it made me long for my one precious year in Brighton. California is nice and all but I miss the green and I often miss the rain (way way too dry here!). Of course I might just be missing a time when I didn’t have one little fella running around and another babbling to himself while grabbing my t shirt sleeves.

    • Oh yes I am near Brighton. Town and country, all accessible near here.

      I didn’t know you’d spent a year here?

      Every reading moment is precious when you have little ones. My idealised memory of me with my little ones is the two of them playing quietly together and me curled up on the couch with a book BUT it was never like that – in those days we had no furniture and playing most often descended into arguments. But it’s nice to have fantasies.

      • Hee. Reading a book while the two kids play nicely together. What a dream! I’ve been trying to time their naps together so I can get some reading time. But of course that time is often spent doing other things like cleaning up, emailing and cooking an early dinner!

        Yes I was at the University of Sussex for a year and their international graduate housing was on Kings Road, not far from the Brighton Pier. My window looked out onto the sea. It was lovely. Except for the monstrous seagulls that perched on the ledge.

      • We had seagulls walking back and forth over out skylight at work today. They are huge and noisy. And if they fall in, it will be right on top of me.

        How cool you were at Sussex! Did you enjoy it and what were you studying?

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