In the Great British Tradition, Easter weekend was largely a washout. As we were driving along Euston Rd in a hailstorm, an hour late for Easter Sunday service we never would have imagined that 24 hours later we’d be skipping around the forest in glorious Spring sunshine. Yet we were. I think you call this a “window of opportunity” and The View at Butler’s Retreat certainly picked their window well. After another stormy morning, the sun broke through just in time for their Easter activity afternoon. Hooray! There were two Easter trails to complete – one inside and one outside. We were taking no chances on the weather, so went for the outside one while the sun was still shining. Note also the extreme weather proofing on that child. The kids had to find nine eggs, scattered around the grounds of The View and the hunting lodge, then rearrange the letters to make a word. This photo is of Eva finding the letter E, which I thought would make her happy but unfortunately Roo’s extreme competitiveness kinda ruined the moment for her (“I saw it first! It’s an E!”). That’s why she’s looking so very grumpy. We also spotted the Easter Bunny, out and about doing the trail: Really though, it was an excuse to run about and shake off some cobwebs in the glorious expanse of space. The prize was kinda secondary. Though I’m proud to say I worked out the word from just three letters – CHC. Maybe I have a one-track mind…
Outdoor trail completed, we moved on to the indoor one..and this time we were finding chickens with questions around their necks, scattered through galleries that told the story of Epping Forest. The exhibitions looked really interesting but I didn’t have much time to stop, as Reuben was keen to find the chickens and claim his next prize. There was a tense moment when we couldn’t find number 9, but luckily we spotted it before he flung himself to the ground in despair. Nathan and Eva had lost interest by that point and had gone to decorate eggs in the arts and crafts room.
There was the option to roll your egg in the garden at hourly intervals but Nathan dropped it before they got that far. It was later discreetly disposed of behind Butler’s Retreat while we were having a much-needed coffee.
Before that though, Reuben needed a run. And happily, we’d found some equally energetic boys for him to run around with. Hooray for open spaces and the HP community!
Roo also enjoyed climbing on the wooden animals in the garden, though he was less impressed when I threatened to leave him up there:
Check out this blue sky, people! It was amazing. We sat out the back of the Larder, drinking coffee and eating cake with our neighbours and all was well in the world. Except that our collective children were head-to-toe in mud. It might have been a sunny afternoon, but there had been plenty of rain in the run up. And Reuben, he tells me, likes his puddles squidgy.
If you need any proof of how wet it was underfoot, take a look at this previously dry patch of grass:
That puddle has ducks on it. No word of a lie.
It was almost home time but Reuben had asked to visit the hollow tree – after all, what visit to the Forest would be complete without an argument over whose “house” the base of the tree was?
They did not disappoint.
But that was but a small blip on a pretty perfect afternoon. I’ve been past The View many times and never thought to go in, but it’s a pretty decent sized visitor centre, with a gift shop and exhibition rooms. They run other seasonal activities too – I hear the Christmas one was good. More info here.