You may remember that back in May, I posted about a family that had really touched my heart. Jennie’s heart-breaking story of her beautiful daughter, Matilda Mae, has stayed with me and I continue to read – and be inspired by – her Edspire blog.
I’ve wanted to do something to support her work for the Lullaby Trust for a long time now – so when I read about the Matilda Mae Welly Walk at Berkshire’s Beale Park, I knew I wanted to take part.
So on Saturday morning, in the glorious sunshine, we packed a picnic and grabbed our wellies – and hit the M4 bound for Reading. With traffic a nightmare, we were very nearly late, but we pulled into beautiful Beale Park just in time for the start of the walk. Before I go on, I just want to say that Beale Park is a fabulous place – having spent most of my youth in Berkshire, I cannot believe I have never been before. It was just perfect for young children, and I’d highly recommend it.
But back to the walk, we joined a huge group of families on the little welly walk around the water gardens. Alex spent the entire route excitedly pointing out all the bright pink and purple balloons he could see along the way – I felt a bit sorry for the groups close by to us! It wasn’t long before we arrived at the Boat Museum (which Alex loved) where we were all given little pots of bubbles to blow kisses to Matilda Mae. Sophie adored all the bubbles – especially the special big ones – and was fascinated by the wonderful string quartet music accompanying them.
It really was moving seeing so many people and so many bubbles – and such a pleasure seeing the huge number of very excited children loving it.
For the next couple of hours, we enjoyed the great range of activities organised for the day, from a snug story telling tent (where I randomly bumped into an old school friend from 20 years ago!), to a craft room (Alex is the proud owner of a glittery star wand we made together!) and even a lovely music class. But the highlight for Alex, apart from a chocolate crepe, was a ride around the park in a little train – a great way to view a lot of the animals there.
After lunch, we discovered the brilliant playground and indoor soft play area – and that took care of most of the rest of the afternoon!
The children also adored climbing all over the many animal statues around the place. Here they are – enjoying a moment of calm together (just before Alex tried to push Sophie off…)
We mustered a little bit more energy (fuelled by crepes) to have a go at welly wanging. Here’s Alex having a go – and winning a little pirate toy which made his afternoon:
By 4pm, both children were struggling so we bundled them into the car to drive to Uncle David’s – they fell asleep in seconds covered in mud and chocolate – the sign of an excellent day I think! We spent a fab couple of hours with my brother before heading back into London. Alex and his uncle made us some delicious pizza for tea and Sophie had a blast climbing up and down the stairs!
It was a wonderful family day – Alex and Sophie seemed to enjoy every minute. You could tell the Welly Walk was organised by people who really understand toddlers, as everything was just the right pace for them and the setting was perfect. We spent most of the day giggling and enjoying each others company, but every so often I’d spot more pink and purple balloons or star decorations, and I’d choke up a bit remembering why we were there. I’m so glad we could show our support in our small way – my only regret is I didn’t seek Jennie out personally to share my support in person. She should feel so proud of the legacy she is building for her daughter.