A walk in the West Sussex countryside and a pub lunch: One Thing or a Mother
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love family days out.
Lack of a family photo aside, last week’s trip up to Cissbury Ring with my husband and children (see last week’s column) was so lovely and a happy memory I’ll cherish forever.
But that’s not to say it’s not also really nice to have a grown-up day out once in a while, too.
Thanks to lockdown, they have been distinctly lacking in the last year, which is why I enjoyed time spent with my husband, sans kids, so much on Saturday.
Now they have been vaccinated, my parents have just reformed our childcare bubble so they can help us with looking after our children when we’re both at work during the week.
And seeing as it was our wedding anniversary last week, they suggested they also look after them on Saturday, so we could go out to celebrate.
We took approximately 0.00001 seconds to think about it, before shouting yes, and when they arrived at our house you couldn’t see us for dust. Kidding, but it’s fair to say I was pretty excited not to have to pack a bag full of baby wipes and spare clothes.
If you’ve been reading my column since the beginning, first, lucky you, and secondly, you might remember our eventful trip to the Knepp estate near Horsham last year.
At the end of my 650 words about that little escapade, I vowed we’d return, so that’s where we decided to head for the first part of what you could describe as our ‘date day’ (if you also wanted to make yourself feel a little bit sick at the sound of such schmaltz).
We struggled to walk through much of the estate last time thanks to hungry kids and a buggy unsuited to off-road terrain. But this time, we hit the red trail (the longest route) with a carefree spring in our steps.
It’s a six-mile walk, which took us about two hours, and it was absolutely glorious. The sun was shining, the views were incredible, and we didn’t have to stop to bribe anybody with copious amounts of treats to continue walking set to a chorus of ‘are we there yet’.
This time, there was only one minor incident when we tried to cross a field of ponies and they were in a cheeky mood and kept chasing us back out the gate.
After a few minutes of waiting, and letting one particularly inquisitive equine friend see we weren’t especially interesting, we were finally able to get across. (Although there was a particularly dicey moment when I thought they were chasing me, and I was fully preparing to push my husband down to the ground as a distraction to allow me to get away – sssshhhh, don’t tell him!).
We were starving at the end of our walk, so it was lucky I had booked a table at The Bull in Henfield, which is only ten minutes down the road.
I’d been wanting to try it for years, as it specialises in my favourite food – pizza. So when I heard it had a really large garden, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a try.
It turned out to be a fantastic decision. The food was delicious, the staff were lovely and there really was plenty of space so it felt very safe.
We spent almost three hours enjoying this most quintessentially English of pastimes – having a pub lunch and some drinks after a long walk in the countryside.
After months of not being allowed to do it, in my happy cider-induced haze I declared it one of the best days ever!