The great Badger Moot 2011 took place last week at the Puncknowle Manor Estate in the Bride Valley, West Dorset. Even though I have termed it the Badger Moot there were no Badgers there this year, neither in name nor form, only descendants and family of Granddad Badger. It was Amélie’s first time at the annual gathering (she had only just been born last year so we didn’t go) and only Éowyn’s second (again she was born at the same time as the 2008 gathering, went in 2009 and obviously could not go last year either).
As usual the week was relatively relaxed with trips to the coast and local attractions confirmed in the morning when we could be quietly confident of the weather and have a vague idea of who wants to go where. This year the trips were more fragmented as the weather wasn’t as kind as in previous years and as we have young ones that are more active in the morning and need a kip in the afternoon then we were having to make a decision as to where to go before the others. Irrespective of where you went during the day we would all head back to the manor house before dark to a relax and enjoy a big family meal (unless it is your turn to cook). It was our turn on the Wednesday night and we opted to keep it simple with a beef and guinness stew and a chicken one-pot.
There are a number of favourite haunts that we usually pay a visit to and so it was this year with Bridport market, Lyme Regis and Hive Beach welcoming the Badger Clan as they do each year. Bridport Saturday market was more interesting than normal for we arrived just as the whole of Bridport town centre was experiencing a power cut. So most of the shops were refusing entry, some on the grounds of health and safety (it is dark in most shops, there are very few windows) and some because they couldn’t take your money (the tills and card readers were down). The bonus was that the carpark ticket machines were also down and so it was free carparking in Bridport and the market was unaffected.
Saturday night was themed meal night. The theme was all things American and food was suitably apt with hotdogs, burgers, fries etc. The kitchen was decorated with American flags and we all dressed in suitably American attire. It was the brainchild of Steve and Zoe and Adam and Lucy who co-hosted the evening. It was good to see that everyone had made the effort and turned out in fancy dress. Poor Finley was completely freaked out by Adam’s hillbilly outfit, which was extremely good it has to be said. Lucy had even organised an American theme quiz which was to correctly identify the location of each of the US states and name the capital of that state. Not as easy as it sounds, but I think that we all learned something (how little we collectively knew about the less well know states!).
As the weather was truly autumnal this year (usually we get unseasonably fine weather during the Badger moot) we looked for alternative destinations that didn’t rely on the weather (our trip to Lyme Regis although realtively dry was a very blustery affair and the photos of Éowyn on a windswept beach with her coat zipped up to her neck sum up the day). This is where the Merlin Passes came good. Weymouth is about a 30 minute drive away and has a Sea Life centre and as the Merlin Pass allows you free entry to Sea Life centres is was too good an opportunity to miss. We were quite impressed with Weymouth’s Sea Life centre, although we did get wet running from one aquarium to the next. Éowyn enjoyed seeing the sharks and the turtles but was far keener on staying in the adventure trail area and the rides that were there.
One of the few full family outings was due to have been on the Monday night: a ghost walk around Bridport. Unfortunately due to the heavy rain (some parts of the neighbouring counties received over a fortnight’s worth of rain) it was cancelled however the guide suggested that he could fit us in on the following day (Tuesday) before his public tour and so we took him up on the offer. Without wishing to be derogatory he did not have the gravitas, nor theatrics of our Dorchester guide from 2009, but he certainly spooked the children and it is always interesting to view a town with another point of view. Finley, especially, gave his imagination too much power and sidled over to me partway through the tour and asked if he could hold my hand. I, of course, said that he could but why and he replied because you are the biggest and the strongest. Not sure that is true and I am not sure that it would help against any malevolent spirits but it allayed Finley’s fears a little.
The week went far too quickly and a great time was had by all. Éowyn especially enjoyed palying with her cousins and with due respect to the cousins they really enjoy playing with her. They give her so much time and involve her in everything including the American hat piñata that Lucy had made. Amélie, obviously, was a bit too young to be involved with their games but nevertheless thaey would quite often sit on the floor and play with her too. It is not just the girls either, Finley (in between fighting me) really enjoys playing with Éowyn and chasing Amélie around the ground floor it is really nice to see. The older cousins also organised a Spa retreat for the adults, with manicures, pedicures, facials, nail varnishing and neck massages all charged at a pound a service (a bargain I am sure you would agree!). I think most of the adults paid a visit and the youngsters split the proceeds between them. I think that poor Seb had the most to complain about for they left his face mask on too long and almost exfoliated his beard when removing it; Adam was probably the most sporting wearing bright nail varnish after his treatment for far too long. It is very enterprising of the girls (and Finley) and Éowyn even helped on one day and was rewarded with a pound for her efforts.
As it quite often is, the day we were leaving Puncknowle was the finest of the week and since we have to vacate the manor house before 1000 myself and Lucinda decided that we would take advantage of the change in the weather to re-visit Lyme Regis and pop down to Hive beach for a cream tea before heading back home. We were glad we did as it was so nice on both beaches that Éowyn even took her shoes and socks off, rolled her trousers up and went for a paddle in the sea (twice – once in Lyme and once on Hive beach!). In fact, she didn’t want to leave and needed persuading that going home was a good idea. Both Éowyn and Amélie (and for part of the way, Lucinda) slept on the journey home. Back home and straight back to work for me – got to pay for it somehow!
Enjoy some of the photos below of our week away and there are plenty more on the Flickr site.
Peace and love