Izzy appears to have early-onset terrible twos. Her favourite phrases at the moment are “‘Bel do it,” and “Mummy wrong.” I figure that the best thing to do is to get both of us out of the house and get some fresh air, so we take a trip to Okehampton Castle.
Unfortunately, this does nothing to stop the tantrums. Before leaving the car park there is a meltdown about climbing a stile. When I finally persuade Izzy to move on, she is happy to find that there are many steps to climb up to the ruins. She runs around the remains of the castle, exploring, peering through doorways and windows and for a few minutes, she is content. I take some photos with my phone and she reaches for it. Wearily, I let her carry it and she plays at taking photos herself. Then, worried about her dropping it between the bars of a grille, I ask for it back and trigger another meltdown.
After snacks at the picnic table, I try to lead Izzy to the meadows that lie in the castle’s shadow, but she is now having a strop because she doesn’t want to eat the bar that is the only food we have left with us. She won’t walk, but she won’t let me carry her either. Eventually, she is persuaded to follow, but stops every few metres to ‘take photos’ of the grass and flowers.
We are walking excruciatingly slowly and I feel myself getting wound up, wishing she would hurry. It takes me a while to realise that it is not a bad thing to linger in such a beautiful place and once I embrace moving at toddler-pace, I start to relax and take note of the wildlife around me. Unfortunately, the Common Knapweed is barely flowering yet, but the fields are a yellow sea of Cat’s-ear, with orchids, Pignut and Yellow-rattle, too. Chimney Sweeper moths rest on the stems of Yorkshire-fog, lazily flapping their wings and Izzy tells me that she wants to cuddle the Large White butterflies that flit past. I encourage her to hop like the grasshoppers that scatter as we walk and she is giggling as we head back to the car.
She insists on climbing into the car seat on her own, then screams as I do up the seatbelt. Minutes later, she is fast asleep and the girl in the rear-view mirror looks as though butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.
Other places to see flower-filled meadows
- Ryewater Farm, Dorset
- Davies Meadows, Herefordshire
- Thompson Meadow, North Yorkshire
- Winks Meadow, Suffolk
- Sylvia’s Meadow Nature Reserve, Cornwall
- Watchtree Nature Reserve, Cumbria
- Ropewalk Meadow, Shropshire
- Rod Wood, Staffordshire
- Kingcombe Farm, Dorset