Monday, 15 September 2008

Life's a Picnic

Yesterday, the sun shone, and we decided to head to Epsom, were both my children are now living, to see how Little Bird had settled in, and spend a day together as a family again; I was desperate for some normality, and simple pleasures. We made a picnic, not the usual fare, as I am still a bit limited in what I can and can't easily do, my arm is still sore and I have decided to let my body tell me when its OK to go full steam ahead and resume normal frenetic activity. Even so we dined on freshly baked baguettes stuffed to overflowing with Tuna and sweetcorn, Strawberries, Bananas and Grapes, Chocolate and Blueberry Muffins, and our families favourite sins; Giant Cadbury Chocolate Buttons, and Waitrose own Jelly Babies!

My Son had walked to my Daughter's place. We called in, and stayed a while, meeting some of her new housemates, and for me finally a chance to check out her garret now that she had turned it from attic to home. Although much smaller than the space she had here, it retained the quirkiness of home. Sloping walls and ceilings, the ubiquitous piles of fashion magazines, fabrics, and notebooks everywhere. My daughter is studying Fashion Journalism, and the previous day had been scouting the West End in London, and had made her way to Mayfair. She proudly showed me a bag she had blagged from the Marc Jacobs' store, essential a cotton shopper, emblazoned with the Marc Jacobs' logo that we are all being encouraged to use instead of plastic in these days of recycling. Recommended Retail Price? Seven Pounds!!

We piled into the car and headed the short distance to Epsom Downs, famous for the race course, and the Epsom Derby. We parked up near Tattenham Corner, and unloaded the boot. We lay rugs on the grass, and the wicker Optima hamper that I had won in a competition some years earlier, courtesy of The English Garden magazine. Both my children love picnics, it is something we did often when they were kids. Teatime is so much more fun when you pack a basket full of goodies and walk half a mile to sharpen the appetite to a nearby Wood.

After lunch, we went walking. Just behind where we picniced is a Public Golf Course, with fabulous views over the Thames Valley of London. The brow of the hill we stood on was about 600 feet above sea level (son has an iPhone with GPS), and I surveyed the plain as it stretched out before us. I love this view, even 17 miles out, London has a magical potency, and energy, and it is easy to understand why it draws so many people to its streets. We walked the grass paths as dozens of horses and riders appeared to be taking part in a mounted orienteering competition. Within the bounds of the race course, horse boxes disgorged horses and ponies of all shaped and sizes, from portly coloured Cobs to bright grey Welsh Mountain types. Further away in the centre of the racecourse, family groups flew huge kites in the welcome breeze. We bumped into some of my son's flatmates and chatted a while, all returning to his home to freshen up, and then consume the delights of dinner at a local Italian restaurant. After we walked Little Bird back to her new home. It was strange to say goodnight to her on a foreign step, and I learned to let go a little more. We walked back through the town to my son's and said our goodbyes too. It was strange to drive away, and leave them to their lives, having spent the whole day together as if nothing had changed since childhood. I settled down into the passenger seat of my car. Tiredness almost overwhelmed me and I fought back the tears that wanted to come, and thought to myself NO; be happy for them. And I am. I have put a couple of pictures of the amazing view from the Golf Course towards London, hopefully you can make the landmarks out.


Looking over Docklands to the East, you can make out Canary Wharf and the 'Gerkin'


To the West, you can clearly see the Arch over Wembley Stadium


Elizabethd said...

Sounds like a lovely family day Zoe, how very nice.

Frances said...

Ah, that is a beautiful post, Zoe, so full of all that makes a family get together a true together time.

The menu and site ... exquisite.

Happy that you got to see where your daughter has set up her nest. May I tell you a Marc Jacobs tale? I know that he now mainly lives in Paris, but for a while in ... perhaps the late eighties or early ninety's he lived in a wonderful old apartment building near where I live.

Your daughter, I am sure, knows that MJ is a great observer and adopter of others' design from many eras. Sometimes he even finds a clever way to make these designs over into his own look.

Anyway, I am a knitter, and back then would from time to time find myself standing next to Mr. J, at an intersection, waiting for the traffic light to change to WALK.

He would just be staring at my own hand knit sweater. Think that he knew that I knew who he was, and that I was sort of ignoring him, but also sort of happy that he was so interested in memorizing my sweater.

Last time I saw him was maybe last year near the lake in Central Park.

Enough of my memory lane. Let me say again how glad I am that you are out and about.


Pipany said...

Sounds lovely Zoe. We ove picnics too though sometimes I almost baulk at the work involved for this hungry bunch. Alwyas worth it in the end though. Glad to hear things are getting back on an even keel for you xx

Exmoorjane said...

Oh that sent a lurch to the stomach......I used to picnic at that spot when I was a teenager, with my parents - we once had a 'posh' picnic there (with 'Ceylon salad' as I recall)... Your daughter's digs sound like my room in our student house - tucked up in the eaves and piled high with books and papers. Oh lucky girl.....
Glad you were able tohave a normal family day all together. jxxx

Fern said...

Hi Zoe, sounds like just the tonic, a lovely, relaxing day.

CAMILLA said...

Sounds heaven Zoe, I adore picnics, and great that you were able to spend time all together as a family.