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Wrest Park, a 90-acre historic landscape and French-style mansion, is beautiful. And only 25 minutes away from us in Hitchin so I was very happy to find out this week they are holding Time Traveller events, archaeology games, trails and talks for children.
I am also very happy to hold an English Heritage membership card, as I have waxed lyrical about it before I won’t tire you with it again, but it meant free entry today and we only paid £1 for the activities. The thing the boys enjoyed the most was looking for a set of 6 “burial” boxes scattered around the grounds, not the easiest of tasks as the place is enormous, but I was prepared and had the battle-worthy double pushchair with me, and I needed it (although my legs could’ve done without being forced to push it up a hill so I could run down said hill at high speed, with the boys screaming like happy maniacs inside).
The search for the boxes took us hours, we kept stopping at every interesting spot to explore, poke, have a rest, run around, play hide and seek. And I think that’s just as it should be. I felt such a strong feeling of happiness and peace today, I only seem to achieve this fully when I am outdoors. We even missed the archaeology talk, arrived 30 minutes late and couldn’t understand what was going on… But we didn’t mind.
On the way out we presented our completed burial boxes report and found we had successfully completed the challenge and won a prize! After finding the boxes, the boys had to do some sand digging inside to find a list of clues about the person “buried” there, I then made a guess on the report sheet on what historical period this person belonged too. This was all made rather easy by a nice timeline at the bottom of the report sheet!
It was interesting to see that while I was quite excited by the prize (a chocolate coin treasure) and the recognition, the boys couldn’t give two hoots about it. They don’t get doing things to win a prize or to be praised. They really enjoyed the experience so when the last box was found that was it for them. If they’d wanted chocolate they would’ve asked for it! I’m glad they feel like this, it means they take real enjoyment in the activities themselves, and cannot be easily manipulated. I’ve watched them time and time again interact with adults (like the dentist) who offer them goodies in exchange for a specific behaviour. They don’t understand it.
Wrest Park also has a really good natural wood adventure playground (in front of the cafe and shop) which can be accessed for free, it’s worth coming just for that, but it being the school holidays, the boys didn’t even take it into consideration, luckily we can come back in a couple of weeks and have the place (nearly) to ourselves.