Its the New Furzey Gardens. Mayfield Park, Weston. All these years it has been inches from our home, and millimetres from Chamberlayne leisure centre where I occasionally go for Pilates torture. It has everything that Furzey has, apart from the cross and the tree houses and the boat and the appealing drive past New Forest ponies, and the llamas. Not much left, you think. Well, Mayfield does have azaleas and rhodedenrons, a nursery and cafe run by Mind as a rehab/therapy centre, so something socially enterprising along the same lines as Minstead Project. It has a park, mature woodlands, a bowling green, and the best thing of all is that it is within cycling distance for the Bowens. So it is the new environmentally conscious Furzey replacement. I must confess that we went there via Tescos, and I drove to Tescos while rest of the family cycled. So probably lost all my environmental brownie points in one go. I did decline to buy plain flour in Tescos as I remembered there is a working windmill across the road we have visited once before. So I dragged my two girls across the A27 to buy flour (H asked if that was where Tesco bought their flour from - ha!). The windmill was shut. No 24/7 service from Dusty.
Mayfield Park, which has avoided us for so long, got our attention today because it was hosting a 'Spring into Action' day. I can usually find some free event in Southampton on most weekends, and as we pay £100 a month for our council tax I like to feel I am getting my money's worth in free activities. They do put some good things on in the parks. At this one we made masks, egg shaped animals and a bamboo pile of twigs for bees to lay eggs in. We did not bother queuing up for face painting on this one, we did do the treasure hunt and touched a snake and a velociraptor. Jut checking you still with me. It is an awful lot of mask making and snake touching to make it worth £100 a month, but my long suffering family humour me and off we trot to wherever I have found is offering free crafts this weekend.
The most exciting part of today (I know - if you were me you would have been sitting down after the velociraptor touching and would have called it a day then) was cleaing my kitchen with my new ENJO products. I got so excited I cleaned all the windows in the house as well. And then cleaned my bike. Due to short notice only a few of you managed to come along to my cleaning cloth party, but I intend to have another and to give you plenty of notice. It really is amazing. I even did the washing up with one of the cloths. I can't say too much here because it does sound too good to be true, but I will let you know when the next party is so you can make sure you are there. Or if you want to come round and do a bit of cleaning anytime to check it out you can.
When I got home there were lots of letters on the doormat, and one of our Girls God Gang (GGG) who needed a plaster for her knee. She actually needed a skin graft in my opinion, but I gave her a Melonin square and some micropore. You know, I forgot to pray for her. Rubbish. Anyway, she doesn't wear shoes much and has feet that show it, and her mum has more children than the lady who lived in a shoe. (Maybe they don't wear shoes because they live in them?) The letters included bills and bank statements. My lovely GGG friend said to me 'Anything exciting?' about the letters, and I said 'No, just bills and bank statements'. She said: 'Oh it is always exciting when a Giro comes isn't it?' and I realised what a different world I have lived in from her, how the 'protestant work ethic' is so deeply etched in me and how much I have to learn about people and Jesus. I told her that Rob went to work and got his money that way, which I honestly think was a new thing to her. I tell this story more to show how much more work God has to do with me than to make any deeply political point about the benefits system.
I met up with the mum of one of the lads we know who is a bit of a local 'yoof' but is really a big kid who never got to play. She told me they were hoping to move in the next couple of weeks, and so another of 'my boys' departs. When Jamie and Taylor and Reilly moved my heart was broken, and I guess I have toughened up my heart now and expect these young people whose world I share to move on, and have to trust God to look after them.
You know, I think it is just what happens to everyone that whenever I get to be friends with someone they move. Or is it just me? What a reflective heart I have today.
Popped to the gym at Chamberlayne as well today and did 40mins, mainly upper body weights. Hope you can tell. x