We’ve had quite a weekend. Our vaguely organised daily lives, with plenty of chances to stand and stare, or at least sit down with a cup of coffee and the paper have been shot to pieces by the arrival, for two days only, of our twin nine-year old grandsons, Alex and Ben.
We had a busy Saturday, full of pancakes, playgrounds, and Ripon’s Prison and Police Museum (recommended). But the highlight of the day was Brimham Rocks.
It’s an extraordinary place. There, slap-bang in the middle of the rolling and verdant Yorkshire Dales, is a 30 acre fantastical landscape. Dry-stone walled fields and charming villages are suddenly replaced by an odd collection of weird and wonderful shaped rocks. Brimham Rocks. These are formed from millstone grit: glaciation, wind and rain have eroded them into extraordinary formations, pierced by holes, balancing apparently precariously, or stacked into tottering towers. Geologists study them, rock climbers scramble up them, but above all, families come to let their children become impromptu explorers, mountaineers and adventurers of every kind.
We’ve only chosen quiet times to visit here in the past, but with Alex and Ben, we had no choice, We wanted to take them there, so a brisk and breezy Saturday slap-bang in the middle of the school holidays it was. The car park was overflowing . Oh dear.
But it was fine. The space is big enough to provide room for all. And it was fun to be amongst children from the smallest toddler to the tallest and lankiest of teenagers, all having an equally good time: all exploring, all testing themselves physically, weaving their own adventures.
And besides, we didn’t come home empty-handed. August is bilberry season. Alex and Ben, particularly Ben, rose to the challenge of stripping the small and rather hidden fruits, becoming ever more purple as time passed. Teeth turned blue, hands indelibly stained, fingernails beyond help from any nailbrush: it was so good to see my grandchildren discovering the pleasures of food-for-free. Bilberry pancakes for Sunday breakfast then…..