Kent, UK – April 2008

Day 4 – Ruckinge Village

Wednesday 30th April

We got the best night’s sleep yet last night. Jennifer murmured a bit at around stupid o’clock but went off again shortly thereafter – bliss! Sandy took care of the ‘early shift’ as normal, whilst I got some more sleep in but we swapped at around nine so that she could catch a few more winks and restore some sanity.

It was clear as soon as I opened my eyes and peered through the two huge roof windows in our room this morning that we’d not only had a lot of rain throughout the night but, alas, that it was still raining. The truth is that I’d expected the rain a few of days ago already and felt lucky to have gotten a couple of days worth of good weather in so far.

With a fully-fledged day out on the road looking unlikely, the order of the day was going to be keeping the kids occupied so I decided to break out the arts and crafts rations that we’d brought along with us for just such an eventuality. This actually worked out quite well and did a good job of keeping them all entertained for the better part of the morning. Naturally, my having laid in bed for the first part of the morning meant missing breakfast – again – so I had to fend for myself as best I could.

Sliced and diced fruit was the order of the day for lunch. Fortunately, all the kids seem to enjoy fruit – even if much of it ended up on the floor. Indeed that’s pretty much the norm for most mealtimes anyway – regardless of what’s on the menu.

By now, the rain had faded and the sun was out. Rather than miss up on the opportunity to enjoy a fresh, spring day, we kitted out the kids in their wellies and set off to explore the nearby fields of cows and sheep and the pond near the edge of the property boundary. We did make a start on a longer walk around the fields via a public footpath but we were soon thwarted by a stretch of non-navigable muddy slush that would have reeked havoc with the double buggy’s wheels – exactly as predicted, I might add, by one of the locals we passed on the way. She grinned politely as we passed her on the way back again.

Willow Cottage is situated in the middle of a very small village called Ruckinge. There can’t be more than a couple of dozen houses, cottages and farm buildings altogether. Much like every other village in the land, there’s a pub and a rather picturesque looking church that made for a nice little detour of exploration. Some of the legible headstones in the church’s graveyard dated back to 1880 but I’m sure many more of the illegible ones must have gone back further still.

By the time we made it to the pub, food was no longer being served but it had a rather nice and enclosed pub garden in which we sat for a hot chocolate whilst the kids were allowed to roam around freely. Between the duck pond, small shed-like playhouse and climbing frame, the kids that were still awake had a whale of a time.

With the notable exception of our little jaunt into the village today, we spent most of our time in the cottage. I felt a somewhat vindicated sense of satisfaction in making sure to rent a place that was very spacious. Even with the kids running riot all over the place, there are plenty of nooks and crannies to find to hide away in just to sit a relax for a few minutes at a time – about the length of which it takes for one or more of the kids to find you.

As an added bonus, I managed to persuade everyone that another supermarket run was needed and even managed to wangle going alone – another half an hour of blissful solitude stolen.

The kids were particularly hyperactive for most of the afternoon, all through dinner and into the evening. I love to see them enjoying themselves like this – the appreciation of which is only slightly inferior to the appreciation of seeing them go to bed!

Another session in front of the laptop and some more chitchat rounded out the evening and we all turned in slightly earlier than normal. I find myself already looking strangely forward to getting back to work … for a break! I wonder what tomorrow holds in store.