Waverley Abbey

There’s nothing like a bit of Climate Change to keep an Englishman on their toes and, since stormy April seems to be masquerading as Balmy July this past week, my mind is wandering away from the usual waterproofs and soft play, and towards sunny picnics with the family.

And Waverley Abbey, is a blissful – if rather windy – spot for one. We visited on a sunny Mother’s Day, last month.

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It’s the ruins of an ancient monastery which flourished for 400 years, until portly hot-head Henry VIII came along and handed out some ginger smackdown. Anyway…

Once you’ve parked up, a short walk beside a lake leads you to the Abbey ruins themselves. Eva enjoyed the swans and coots en route, and there was a picturesque bridge leading across to the private venue Waverley Abbey House opposite. It’s not far, so she didn’t require a sling or buggy.

Once at the Abbey, we settled amongst the ruins, using them as a windbreaker and letting Eva clamber over some. (Lately, when she finds herself hampered in her climbing attempts she declares ‘Heavy… too heavy!’ which always tickles us.) She enjoyed that favourite toddler pastime of staring avidly at older children, too, some of whom invited her to play. And she gave it a shot, but ultimately still preferred to stare.

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Him Indoors was a champ in giving me the whole day off (bliss!!) and had prepared a lovely picnic of goats cheese and beetroot wraps for lunch. These were all nommed pretty swiftly, leaving me wishing I’d grabbed a photo of them before it was too late (DP definitely has a way with food presentation, unlike me: I frequently leave the kitchen – and the meal – looking like someone fired an entire vat of refried beans through a cannon onto the wall/hob/plates.) Admittedly, Eva’s current habit of deconstructing everything she eats and asking ‘Wassat, Mummy? Wassat Mummy?’ whilst holding aloft each individual crumb may have slowed things down a little, so I should have taken this opportunity to grab some snaps, though in all honesty was too busy stuffing my face with vegetable crisps. Clearly I have failed in my Food Pornification duties and should be barred from my Instagram account. Next time maybe…

Eventually Him Indoors busted out a kite – one of his favourite pastimes – and I hope the image of Eva laughing delightedly as she trotted after it stays with me always .. because goodness knows the gawd-awful blurry pictures I took of this moment aren’t likely to help! (…the one below excepted, for which I can only thank the invention of digital cameras. If you throw enough crap at the wall then eventually something sticks, etc..)

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If you’re going to pay Waverley Abbey a visit – and I do think you should if the weather remains clement – just be aware that there is a relatively small car park… well, less a ‘car park’ and more a ‘dirt track’. Also, toilets are not forthcoming on site, understandably. I mean, who wants a 70s toilet block in the middle of their History lesson, or their Ruins pics photobombed by a Portaloo? But apparently there is a cafe in Waverley Abbey House which might give up the goods. That could also be worth bearing in mind if rain catches you out during a family picnic mission. Though good luck getting any menu info from the cafe webpage, which is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. (We can but hope chocolate teapots are actually on the menu to make up for it!)

Anyway, we clenched our bladders and changed Eva al fresco this time, again using the ruins as a windshield. For the first time she actively requested a second nappy change so I think we can deem our fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants’ nappy-change a success on this occasion.

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Overall this was definitely one of those Happy Feels days whose memory I will be treasuring next time I’m cleaning toddler poop off something inappropriate, or further down the line when Eva is yelling about what a terrible parent I am because I wont let her and her mates smoke crack cocaine in the garden shed. Himself and myself had last visited the abbey quite early in our courtship (yes, with kite in tow!), so it was a good time to reflect on how far we’ve come (from Guildford) and what the future might hold for us as a family (more nappy changes) And what it might hold for us as partners of course – because it’s too easy to forget that bit, once children come along.

Waverley Abbey is a lovely, tranquil place that is well worth a visit when the sun shines. And I hope if you visit it will be just as memorable for you too.

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