As I mentioned in a recent Project 365 post, my son is getting to that age where getting him out of the house isn’t always as easy as it used to be. Even when the suggested destination is somewhere he’s always loved. Nine and a half, going on fourteen it seems at the moment, with slamming doors and lots of ‘it’s not fair, you ruin everything’. But I persevere, I know that once he’s out in the fresh air he comes alive, and for my own sanity, I also need to get outside. So with a lot of protest we headed off to Stowe on a lovely sunny afternoon and yes, as soon as he got out of the car, the grumpy child had vanished and he was decided on our route for the day. Little did I know then that we’d get to see him rolling down a hill, over and over again, before our visit was complete.
Daddy P had joined us on our adventure and he wasn’t quite used to the fact that our son always plays tour guide when we’re at Stowe. It’s become a bit a tradition with the two of us that he picks a route and then shows me around. My son was rather thrilled to have an additional guest on his tour for a change.
We visit Stowe a lot, it’s our nearest National Trust site and it’s somewhere we never tire of. Even if my pre-teen needs to reminded of that fact at the moment. There’s always something to catch our eyes and grab my son’s attention. It was amazing to see how quickly his mood changed, Mummy does sometimes know best!
Admiring the wildflowers as we walked down to the main gardens, looking out for butterflies, we didn’t see any, which made us rather sad.
My son was full of tales of Lord Cobham and his family. I often wish my son enjoyed writing, he has the most wonderful imagination and I’d love him to put his ideas down on paper. But for now, I just enjoy his thoughts and tales as they come straight out of his mind. It’s lovely to listen to him.
Another tradition is the ringing of the bell at Bell Gate, to announce our arrival and the start of the main tour.
And so our tour began, his Dad soon realised that it was a pointless exercise to go in any direction other than the one suggested by our guide, and we were off. The views are as stunning as ever.
Stop taking photos Mummy and listen to what I’m saying call the guide. That told me.
We would be heading across the Palladian Bridge up the hill to the Gothic Temple, this way!
We discovered a tree that had been cut down and it needed a further inspection. I did think my son would climb up on to the main trunk, but no, he decided I could actually take a full-on smiley face photo instead. These days, you catch those whenever you can, trust me.
We’ve been to Stowe so many times, that I lost count years ago, but in all those visits we have never been to the church. Well, this visit was the day for that to happen as instructed by our tour guide, the same child who’d screamed blue murder about having to go out a few hours earlier. It did make me smile.
The churchyard was full of flowers and a rather romantic setting we thought.
Inside we found a beautifully etched window which really represents Stowe so well and our guide was rather pleased with his discovery.
From here our tour continued to the Temple of Ancient Virtue and we were left wondering where my son gets all of his energy from as he ran on ahead.
Keep up he shouted out as he headed inside, it’s time for a drinks stop, and off he went.
Although his break didn’t last long and he soon headed back outside and before I knew it he was rolling down a hill, laughing, having fun, being a nine-year-old, being the son I know.
Over and over again he rolled down that hill, reminding himself that actually, it’s ok to be outside and enjoy simple pleasures. I sat on the grass and watched him for ages, just enjoying the moment. My country kid is still there, he just needs a bit more of a nudge these days.
With grass-stained jeans, we eventually headed off from the temple and said hello to my son’s favourite tree. You may remember that he has a tree that I photograph him standing in on most visits we make to Stowe. At the moment this is still a tradition he’s happy to keep going, so again, I make the most of it while I still can.
I look at this photo and compare it the ones taken in the same spot I have hanging in my living room, and I see the transition from little boy to teen approaching so clearly. Times just goes by too quickly but my son had one last treat in store for us, one last reminder that he isn’t a teenager yet. My stick boy is still alive and kicking!
He found a couple of sticks and we ended up sitting on the grass in the sunshine enjoying the view. He then came up with a game, what can you pretend these sticks are? We each had to take it in turns to act something out. It was hilarious watching a very self-conscious Daddy P getting to grips with the stick and using his rusty imagination. Simple pleasures and a couple of sticks. Heaven.
Our visit recharged out batteries, reminded my son that he does have fun outdoors and showed me that it’s worth enduring the pre-teen strops for time like this.