The grandchildren have gone back to their parents. Everything is quieter and more relaxed. We have had five days of intense activity. On Monday we took them to a country park for rambles and an adventure playground, countryside quizes and nature study. On Tuesday we went to the Heavy Horse Centre at Verwood where we saw the giant Clydesdales and the tiny Shetlands; they spent time on giant pedal cars and trampolines. On Wednesday we went on the water in Christchurch Harbor. On Thursday we visited the Model Town at Wimborne.
Wimborne is dominated by the Minster, a huge Norman Church built in the 12th century. It is a picturesque little town of about 6000 inhabitants, and in one corner is a site given over to a model of the town, frozen as it was in the 1950s. The largest building is about four feet tall. The best way to see it is to take one of the quiz sheets and answer the questions. You have to crawl on your hands and knees to find which window displays a notice of Mudeford plaice at 2/- a lb. (That's how we used to write two shillings a pound in the 1950s).
Wimborne Minster is dedicated to St Cuthburger who founded the original Nunnery on this site in 705 AD. It was from here that St Boniface (his original name was Winfrith) recruited missionaries to the pagan land of Germany. Boniface was martyred there in 755 AD. In 871 King Alfred the Great buried his brother Ethelred (not the Unready) at Wimborne after the Battle of Martin against the Danes, However, the Nunnery was destroyed by the Danes in 1013. In 1043 Edward the Confessor built a College on the site, but the present church building is Norman dating from 1120.
Among the Deans of Wimborne are numbered Hugh Oldham who became Bishop of Exeter and founded both Corpus Christi Collge, Oxford and Manchester Grammar School, and Reginald Pole, who became Archbishop of Canterbury after Cramner was burnt at the stake by Queen Mary. His great task in life was to restore the Church of England to Rome. He failed.
The church is huge with the second largest chained library in England. Anyone thinking of visiting England should come and see Wimborne for himself.
On Friday we visited Moors Valley Country Park. We were among about 5000 visitors that day. It is spread over a large area that includes a lake and a golf course. For the children there was a play area with slides and climbing frames of intricate design, a narrow guage steam railway, a trail through the woods that is interrupted by large timber constructions to play in, with tunnels and bridges and wire rides and mazes and climbing frames. It is an exciting day out and not normally so crowded.
Most evenings we had a game of cricket in the garden when we returned.
After a week of this I came to the conclusion that going back to work might be less exhausting