We went to Knole on Sunday: I was with Tom, Sarah and William. Here is a house with 500 years of history set into a mediaeval deer park of 1000 acres.
The house turned out to be off-limits. Only when we got home did we find out that with an over-booked Children’s Book Festival in full swing, other visitors were being urged to stay away.
It didn’t matter. A 1000 acre deer park simply never gets crowded, and the weather was sunny and bright. William rushed about the unending open space and we all helped him spot distant deer.
What we didn’t expect was that the deer were rather more interested in spotting us, and not staying at a distance at all. They’d developed a formula which goes something like this: ‘people = rucksacks = picnics = free food’.
We knew it wasn’t a good idea. We know that deer are wild creatures, sometimes unpredictable and that they can host ticks and other unwelcome creepy-crawlies. It was a treat to be able to see them grazing nearby.
The deer had other ideas. They found a neighbouring toddler’s empty push chair and nuzzled around it for treats. Then they spotted William. He had an apple. The young sika deer thought that William’s apple might make a nice change from grazing for young grass.
It was treat for William of course, to get so close to these wild creatures. And it was a treat for us too. But we were wary, and did what we could to discourage our marauder. Once he ‘d snaffled the apple core, we made our excuses and left.
We’ll go back to Knole of course, to explore the house. But we may leave our picnic at home.