Mr Darcy’s Christmas trees

If you’ve ever watched a child screaming and wondered why its mother didn’t shut it up, please be aware that she may not be able to. I offered a perfect specimen of parental incompetence earlier on today as we sat in the car in Sainsbury’s car park while S bought a newspaper. E has suddenly taken against the car and wanted to get out, or sit on my knee, neither of which were possible. So she bawled. I tried everything except get her out or sit her on my knee to get her to stop but nothing worked so instead I sat and wished S would hurry up.

“What’s wrong with her?” he helpfully asked when he got back.

Anyway, we were off on a day trip to Sudbury Hall, home to the Museum of Childhood and location for many Pride and Prejudice scenes (for the proper BBC series, I’m not talking bloody Keira Knightley movie versions here). It’s just over half an hour drive and one of the only National Trust places near us that we haven’t tried yet.

By the time we arrived E had talked about passing buses, lorries and ambulances and then fallen asleep – tears were forgotten. She was in one of those outfits that you can only get away with in childhood – a blue dress with net skirt and sparkly dots on, car tights, wellies, a parka, one of my crocheted scarves and a knitted hat. She was also loaded up with three soft toys.

sudburySudbury is impressive looking and they do things with handmade Christmas decorations as an added attraction. Anywhere that swathes the concrete balls they decorate driveways with to look like Christmas puddings is ok by me. Inside there were loads of Christmas trees. E was thrilled – she’s very into Christmas trees at the moment. (The volunteer on the door asked us to hold our bags in front of us so that we didn’t knock anything over – as if anyone used to living in our tiny house could feel cramped in a bloody stately home.)

sudbury 2In the last two weeks or so, E has become fluent in her favourite books, quoting large sections by heart. One of her current favourites features a dark scary cave, a line that she came out with as we walked through a long corridor decked out in lights archways of greenery.

The long gallery at Darcy’s house was filled with Christmas trees, at least nine of them, and all much better to look at than the paintings (“many family portraits , but they could have little to fix the attention of a stranger.”) E loved them, of course, exclaiming in wonder and showing us all the decorations on them. It’s almost worth keeping a tree up all year long, just to keep her occupied…

sudbury 3We made a bird feeder from a pine cone and some lard in the grounds, and then played for a while in the woodland play area which, if I remember rightly, was funded by my work – no branding though… As if E wasn’t excited enough by the Christmas trees, the bird feeder and by being with us, there was then a ship to climb on – she immediately decided it was a pirate ship and stood proudly at the front, clutching the rigging and telling us she was a pirate “aaarrggghhhh.”

We never made it into the museum of childhood to see the old toys so may have to return another day. Everything closed up at three and we came home.

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