Saturday, 9 July 2011

'When can we go to Dorset?'

Having constructed my life with all the insecurities of not much work and less pay, with an absent husband half-way up a hill on the other side of the world, and with no school institution to prevent me adventuring with the kids, I am left relatively free to make instant decisions about where we go and what we do.

I find decision making is all the more fun when prompted by the interests of the kids. Common sense is usually my only guard, but I have found, under a child's tutelage, I can dispatch him without a second thought.

So today it's in the car, head to Dorset. Tiger has yearned to collect ammonites on a beach. I promised last year, faithfully, cross-my-heart, that we would do that, but then time ran away and made me fly off to the distant house on the hill. Well, we have to go again, but not before I have satisfied Tiger's cravings.

Shark and Squirrel are game for most instant adventures; Shark especially if there is water promised, and Squirrel, probably because she is like me. That sounds like a fun thing to do. Let's do it. (I agree, it doesn't have much profundity as a life philosophy, but it sure leads you to discover interesting places by some make-it-up-as-you-go-along moments.)

On the way, we pause at Danebury Hill Fort, and the excellent Iron Age Museum at Andover. (Last seen by our gaze I can tell you, thanks to this excellent blog I've found, on 26 March 2009.)

The town is placed like an elbow; at this fulcrum point we turn from a tiresome motorway journey south to swing away over the countryside of Hampshire and Wiltshire, over Salisbury plain and by Stonehenge. I feel the landscape of Britain changes for us, taking us away not only from a dreary road passing infill towns but across the most beautiful chalk landscape, worn smooth by wind and rain to create gentle curves covered by rolling grass. Leaving the car to walk here, it all still evokes the same in me: I am sure I have a deep vein of romanticism about these gloriously ancient places.

Anyway, lest I start getting all misty-eyed about that, I should admit that I wouldn't want my ancient fantasies put to an actual test. I would find surviving a single night in an iron age hut hard going, and by the end of day three I'd probably be willing to sell one of the kids for a decent dinner.

Now here are this year's pictures from our iron age day.

It's not hard to imagine, walking about this landscape, that I am casting off daily dull duty, but I am still motivated by an educational responsibility. For this landscape, I've put on the CD of Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve, and I have packed Barry Cunliffe books in the boot. Tonight in the last-minute caravan I'll read a few passages, talk about how people not only managed to stay alive beyond two thousand years ago, but also created communities, religions, warfare and peace, then ask the little grits What do you think?

I suppose I should say, do not imagine I am without my own low-grade, commonplace goals. Nothing to do with ancient rolling hills, spiritual satisfactions, inquiries about learning, or the imperatives of young minds. No. I simply want to enjoy England on the cheap before the prices rocket and the beaches back up with the August school output.


MadameSmokinGun said...

Funny as there was a programme on BBC4 last night about the A303 and the history of the surroundings - great stuff: Ancient bits, Roman bits, Alfred the Great, turnpikes and 18th C follies. Rounded off with a good fry up in the last roadside cafe before it merges with the A30. And not a Dimbleby or Titchmarsh or BBC orchestra to spoil it for once. Good and ordinary - and all the better for it.

PS What beach did you go fossil-hunting on? I keep promising the same thing to my little mad paleontologist but never quite point my car in the right direction...

Grit said...

well, mme sg, i am equipped with all the jurassic guides now, and can say the children's winner is charmouth for the pyritized ammonites. These you can pick out the beach. clear favourite with tiger, especially after an elderly lady took her under the wing to show her what to look for then handed over some of her morning finds. the other fossil hunters down there are extremely generous in sharing their wisdoms. (unless i suppose they have spotted an ichthyosaur nose sticking out the cliff. i bet they don't share the location of that.)

MadameSmokinGun said...

Thank you kind lady!! Something else very important to scribble on a piece of paper and ...... yeah.. One day - no I will - one day...... soon.....