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Updated: May 21, 2020

16th August, 2018

So I went to Styal today. The first time I braved it (because it did feel, somehow, like it took courage to go alone with the two tinies), I loved it. I'd been feeling a bit low (I'd been due to meet my mum and sister, but Faye had been poorly) and didn't feel like being in the house with a long and empty afternoon stretching ahead of me. So I braved it. And I really hadn't expected it to lift me out of my low mood so much, but it did.

It helped that the sun was shining. But, also, I remember being amazed at just what a tonic it was to be outside in wide open spaces. And everyone was so friendly (they could probably see I was inwardly panicking). And the wooden garden toys were lovely and I was so impressed by the activities the National Trust had on for children. I had unwittingly stumbled into Summer Holiday Territory, I suppose. 

But today, Styal just didn't do it for me. And I'm not sure why. It's true I was tired. That seems to be a permanent fixture these days and it does colour my mood. But also...the temperature was cooler and, despite the blue patches in the sky, it felt like we were suddenly losing summer - and there was a sadness to that. Even though I was always the one complaining about the oppressive heat in this most summery of summers that we have had. It felt (dare I say it?) Autumnal... and I suddenly felt as though I'd taken this summer - the hottest since 1976 - for granted. Oh dear. And Autumn always brings such nostalgia... Can anyone escape that 'back-to-school' feeling you get with the arrival of September?

But anyway. I'd still recommend National Trust membership for anyone with little children, even if it does make you feel like you've officially settled into Middle Age. They do put on a good show. Today there was a tent where Gracie could make a crocodile and also a bit of interactive storytelling - and the guy was very good. On that note, there was one point where Gracie actually went to address the audience of children with the words 'I tell you what'...oh no... I had to call her over and get her to carry on going through the tunnel (with the other children) and not get so distracted. My goodness. I've thought it before and I'll think it again: I need to get my daughter into some kind of drama club. She certainly seems to prefer to be on stage than off it. Just like her Granddad.

With all the above excitement, Gracie didn't nap today (well, not more than 10 minutes in the car, anyway). This became evident during dinner, where Gracie's conversational skills took a rapid nosedive, as she was hyper and tired in equal measure. I tried to do my usual 'debrief' of the day with her. (Apparently it's good to do this with childen at the end of the day.) I said something along the lines of 'Gracie, tell Mummy what you did at Styal today'. But Grace was intent on meeting all of this with a crocodile roar. On repeat. And the words 'I can be pretty scary', or something like that. She always gets so giddy when sleep-deprived. And I guess talk of Styal made her think of that homemade crocodile.

Looking back on today, as a final thought... I wonder if I have this need for new things every now and again. That's an annoying need if it is one. Maybe I enjoyed Styal so much the first time because of the novelty factor. Maybe it was the thrill of knowing I could handle it alone. And now I know I can I've become blase....(how do you put that accent on the 'e'?). So maybe next time it's about braving something slightly new.

It's an interesting question, though. Do we all have an inbuilt need for a minimum amount of variety? I suppose the phrase 'a change is as good as a rest' didn't come from nowhere. Do we all have a love/hate relationship with routine? And how do we inject the thrill of newness into our lives when we're with little ones all the time and the days are naturally so similar in a thousand little ways - without traveling miles or spending a fortune? I'd like to know. I was excited about CentreParcs for this very reason...something new. But now, with this September weather, I'm not sure I am... hopefully it will provide enough new stuff to combat the Autumn breeze...

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