An Autumnal Walk In The Oxfordshire Countryside


How was your weekend? Lovely I hope! I am enjoying the return to relative peace and quiet as half-term has ended and Mia is back at school. We spent the last few days of the holidays staying with family in Cambridgeshire, which was perfect. Sometimes it’s just good to get away for a short break from day-to-day life, and even more so at the moment whilst we are dealing with all the stresses that come with house hunting and trying to sell our own place!

Half-term passed in a bit of blur of trips out for cinema, lunch, coffee, etc, but last weekend we made the most of the perfect autumn weather and took a walk through the local countryside. I have said it before but we are so spoiled with a wonderful choice of places to walk nearby. We opted for one of our favourites, the Wittenham Clumps, a beautiful area not too far from Abingdon. It has it all really, forest paths, fields to run around, a river and a massive hill, often being grazed by cows!


On a clear day the views are amazing; you can see for miles it is so high up. It’s also pretty stunning on misty mornings or in the winter fog, as the trees on the surrounding hilltops become the only things visible for miles!


They may be sloe berries, judging by the spikes, but I am no expert. I do love the faded bluberry-like colour though.


Joe always finds a stick wherever we walk (even on the way to and from school most mornings) and spends a long time chosing a favoutie one to come home. As a result our garden is so full of them; occasionally I do get rid of a few, or add them to our garden bug hotel, but he knows each one and will sometimes ask where a particular stick has gone. I am very much hoping that he will grow into a Monty Don-ish adult who will help with my garden, rather than a tree surgeon (far too scary/dangerous!).


There is always someone flying a kite at the top of the hill. I must get a proper one for Mia and Joe, as the one we have is useless and refuses to fly, even in high winds!


I love the late afternoon light during October and November, so soft and hazy it is magical. The hills become blue and the trees just glow in contrast.


The cows are also gorgeous, but we treat them with caution. When we are walking, A always laughs at my wariness about cows, but having been chased by a herd several times as a child, I feel my reaction is justified. Much better to admire these beautiful creatures from a safe distance (thanks, camera zoom!).


We are looking forward to getting outside so much more over the next few weeks, as autumn slowly changes into winter. The welly boots and cosy woollies are at the ready! I would love to visit an arboretum before the leaves have all fallen, there is a great one just outside Oxford, Nuneham Arboretum, which we know well. I am planning a trip to Westonbirt too, which looks stunning. Where is your favourite place for an autumn or winter walk?




Climb Inside Your Favourite Story Book

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Did you have a favourite story book character when you were small? I loved Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil in Ballet Shoes and would happily have been any of the three sisters, despite never having any desire to learn ballet as a child! They seemed so brave and talented, and the fact that they had been adopted by an explorer just completely captivated a seven year old me! I remember also desparately wanting to go to boarding school, preferably in a castle, which in a pre-Harry Potter era, was entirely down to Darrell in Malory Towers and the Chalet School girls. I suspect this was mainly due to midnight feasts, which appealed massively then, and still do really!


We are lucky enough to live nearby a wonderful annual book event that celebrates favourite story book characters and makes them come to life. Milton Manor, near Abingdon is a beautiful old estate, tucked down a country lane, and only open for a few days each year. It is the perfect home for the yearly Readathon, with it’s forest area, small boating lake and gorgeous old stables. A wonderful team of volunteers host the event, and manage to make it completely magical. It really is like stepping inside all of your favourite childhood books for a day, perfect escapism, and so much fun for the little ones!

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Of course we took the oppurtunity to dress up, Mia as Pippi Longstocking and Joe as the Gruffalo. With only a couple of hours notice (last minute change of plan!) we managed to pull together some fairly decent costumes. Pippi suited Mia perfectly; I can understand so well, why she is one of her favourite characters, as wild and free as possible!



There were so many activities to explore, a Gruffalo trail through the woods, an adventure playground and wooden fort in the forest, author readings and illustrator demos and a book swap tent! We spent hours running around the estate collecting stamps from book characters, a sort of treasure hunt, including Winnie the Witch, Postman Pat, and Gangsta Granny.

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There was tea and cake too, all homemade and with the tea served with old mismatched tea pots and cups… all pleasingly very Alice in Wonderland. Goodness knows how we would have got through some many of the activities without a litte bit of sugar!


It really was a magical day, and a wonderful event to take part in. This was the first time we had been to the Readathon, and I cannot believe we have been missing this whilst it is so close to home. There have already been discussions about what to dress up as next year, but I’m focusing on getting through Halloween and the party season first of all!