They didn’t need me on the champagne and strawberry stall after all so we all got to wander around in the drizzle together.
It was very English and very organised. You were given a time to go and queue for the various entertainments and marshalling was done by girl guides of varying degrees of ferocity. My English friend F asked whether I thought any other nation would be so horribly organised. I pointed out that I had already seen a German lady leaving in a huff pulling her two children along behind her muttering under her breath “Hier ist alles sehr disorganasiert”. These events tend to reinforce national stereotypes.
We took the Princess for a ride on a shetland pony and while waiting for our turn we saw a 10 year old girl guide saying sternly to a small child “don’t climb on the pony – hop on”. Since he was only about three we felt that this might be a challenge for him, but she was adamant and eventually there were tears and a parent had to lift him on. This boded ill for our adventure. As we waited, a five year old said loudly to his parents “What a big willy that horse has”. Everyone chatted nervously about the weather. Finally it was our turn. The Princess took one look at the pony and refused to go next or near it. As we tried to put her in the saddle she clung to us in a most affecting manner and shot evil glances at the girl guide. Eventually she consented to be photographed pulling the pony’s mane. Our photographic archive is complete.
We also took her to dig for buried treasure. This involved digging up sand from a small basin with a spoon. Eventually you would come across a worthless small object perfect for babies to chew and choke on. To be fair she didn’t come across any small object because on being given a spoon and a basin she, not unnaturally, assumed that the contents were for eating and began spooning sand into her mouth enthusiastically. We managed to stop her before she got to the treasure.
After winning a small prize in the raffle (every ticket wins a prize) and chewing on the plastic tape securing the three legged race area (I leave you to determine which member of our party decided that this was a good idea) we decided to head home. “Well” I said perkily to Mr. Waffle “that wasn’t so bad, was it?” He hissed in an undervoice as we made our way through the phalanx of range rovers parked in the grounds “if you ever make me go to something like this again, I’ll divorce you.” Not so good either then.