This post might be a bit of a rehash of a well-worn local fave but, after our epic trip up north for Easter weekend, I’ve resigned myself to the fact the rest of the holidays will probably be largely Waltham Forest based. Did I blog about the Northern trip yet? No? I think it makes me too tired just thinking about it.
So yesterday we went for a forest walk. Well, I went for half a forest walk and then abandoned the family leaving them to get home on their own, but I’ll come to that. We were with around 35 other adults – students and teachers from our church English class – so they weren’t totally alone. I’ll stop justifying now.
Some time into the walk, Eva started complaining that her yegs hurt and she wanted to stop. Of course, this was on the bit between Chingford station and Butler’s Retreat, so not actually any way into the walk as such. But it set the tone.
When we got to Butler’s, the kids went straight for a play on the wooden stags:
And then we went into the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge, which I don’t think we’ve ever done before. I didn’t think there was anything much inside it but I don’t know why I thought that – there’s lots to look at. The tables on the ground floor are covered in replica Tudor food (Eva wasn’t too keen on the pigs’ head) and the next floor up has a dressing up section:
There are some lovely views from the top floor, which wowed the inner-city-dwelling students. They didn’t believe London could be so leafy. I made sure to maintain the balance by pointing out the pub car park out of the other window.
There’s also a table with colouring in stuff:
But none of this was what we were there for. Not sitting down in the warmth. No! Fresh air and mud and bracing stuff!
And there was plenty of mud. I’d made some poor decisions re footwear and so had muddy water leaking into my boots. The kids were rainproofed from the head downwards but that didn’t stop them getting mud splattered, due to their love of “squelchies”. Eva went into one “squelchy” that sunk her to the knees and she had to be rescued by Ahmed from the Advanced Class, leaving her boots behind her in the puddle. Don’t worry, we didn’t leave them there.
But it was almost time to leave the kids behind as I had a date with a SwingTrain promo video. We got as far as Connaught Water, which is really only about ten minutes away from Butler’s if you don’t get stuck in the mud too many times. The walk was continuing round the lake and someone had mentioned an ice cream van so there was a double meltdown brewing when they realised we didn’t have any cash on us. All in all it was a good time to leave Nathan in charge and head back to the station on my own.
Except that is definitely one of those things that is easier said than done. My first thought was to head to the car park and follow Rangers Rood all the way but the lack of pavement made me rethink that plan. I would have to try and pick my way through the forest on my own.
Luckily, though, we were really VERY close to where we’d started and after a few minutes I could see the top of the hunting lodge to guide me back to civilisation. I was running out of time though, so had to break into a bit of a jog as I got back onto Station Rd. I flopped onto the train, red-faced, sweaty and mud-stained. Perfect look for starring in a SwingTrain video!
I got to Bishopsgate Institute, still in a state of chaos and was slightly alarmed to find everyone else there was dressed for swing dress, in glamorous vintage dresses and full make up. I’d brought gym gear.
It all worked out fine in the end, but if you happen to watch an ad for SwingTrain and there’s a crazy lady in hastily applied eyeliner and gym kit with a twig in her hair and Epping Forest mud streaked down her face…well, that’s me. But I’m gonna pretend it’s not.