Whenever I try to recall the name of the place we visited this Easter weekend, my brain always gives me ‘Abinger Wastes’. This is clearly wrong as it’s situated just off the verdant North Downs Way for a start. But – as Himself points out – ‘Abinger Roughs‘, the actual name of this National Trust land, sounds like some godawful half-baked teenage gang with ‘Surrey’ levels of toughness (I imagine them all sounding a bit like Tim Nice-but-Dim and wielding pricey-but-blunt dinner knives their Mums bought them from Steamer Trading).
Anyway, the point is: DP was knocked off his bicycle en route to work a couple weeks back so, with his bruised bum still smarting, we were looking for a gentle walk this Easter Sunday. The Roughs (or the wastes, or whatever its called!) is just off the A25 towards Dorking and offers a a picnic area which is located practically on top of the carpark, along with some relatively short walk options, if you so fancy.
So first we headed out to the clearing to throw Eva’s beloved red ball, and clamber over some logs and benches. There was even an epic den of branches built around a tree …extra enthralling to Eva given she is currently obsessed with The Barefoot Book of Children which, among its many delights, habours an illustration of something very similar.
Running around this area (or ‘hobbling’ in poor DP’s case) kept us occupied for a good half an hour, until Eva declared it ‘Nic-pic time!!’ and we joined each other on one of the tables.
Hold the front page folks, I actually managed to take a picture of the food this time. And guess what – it’s rubbish!
This blur is actually Lobster Macaroni Cheese, cooked by me for a dinner with friends the other night, with the remaining portions Waffled by Himself for the picnic. For this wonder we have to thank:
a) This recipe (I’d recommended doubling the number of anchovies and adding a small tin of that John West dressed lobster if you’re only using the tails like we did. No live lobster-boiling for this wimp, thanks!)
b) Our beloved waffle machine
c) A copy of ‘Will it Waffle?’ (It will).
Given that this is all quite jazzy by my usual cooking standards, I’d love to report that Eva wolfed it down and immediately wailed for more; but what she actually did is pick all the crispy cheese off and throw it away (sacrilege!!) then turn her attention to the accompanying tomatoes and cold garlic bread in short order. Maybe she detected the cayenne pepper and about twenty gallons of wine in the recipe…? (whoops!) Myself and DP enjoyed it muchly though and I’d definitely recommend it as a relatively simple dinner party dish, wafflization or no.
ANYWAY… to prevent this turning from a blog post into a celebrity chef endorsement, let me run the rest of the day past you quickly. Following our ‘nic-pic’ we clambered on the logs some more, then set off on a short loop into the woods – where we encountered some friendly teenagers who invited Eva to climb a huge tree with them. In the usual toddler style, our normally chatty little girl was struck dumb by this development, apart from to turn to me and issue her favourite question of the moment ‘What’s that???’. Which is all very well when pointing incredulously at a car or a flower, but slightly more awkward with passersby or young people who have just introduced themselves by name. But her new pals Jess and Charlie were unfazed and Eva made it halfway along the first branch with their guidance before quietly asking to be passed back to Mummy. (A girl after my own heart – I was constantly freezing with fear up trees when I was young!)
In all honesty though, I am working hard not to install my dislike of heights and physical danger in Eva. She is already naturally cautious but determined, and I think my nervousness is something any intrepid young person can do without. So I have to grit my teeth and keep schtum as I follow her up tall slides, and make encouraging noises as she climbs ladders even though inside my heart is pounding. That’s on top of the vast amount of insect-handling every Mum is obliged to undertake without shrieking (a wasp the approximate size of a jumbo jet flew out of the kitchen sink the other morning and I’m still trying to calculate how many swears may have left my lips in front of Eva before I remembered to bite down on them..)
Abinger Roughs is up a left turn just past the village of Abinger Hammer, if you are going in the Dorking direction. The road can be tricky to spot, but there’s a massive barn opposite which serves as a good landmark. It has a decent, if compact, car-park.
Abinger Hammer village itself is worth a peep. It’s pretty place, with a green and a recreation area, and you could do a lot worse than pop in the Kingfisher Farm Shop while you’re there to stock up on veg …watercress in particular, which they grow on site. Over the road from Kingfishers is the Tea Rooms, a no-frills, unpretentious place on the side of the newsagents which, as I recall, does a pretty mean line in apple cake. So it could be worth your while stopping off in the area if that’s the sort of stuff that floats your boat!
And a little further back down towards the road Guildford is Gomshall – another pretty village, with a pub I would recommend if my birthday meal there earlier this year is anything to go by (let us quietly forget they somehow lost my group booking which led to something of a last-minute panic!).
So there you go. I hope you enjoyed the easter break! We certainly did – and our short and simple walk was a lovely way to wind down after a chocolatey weekend!