As we climbed back into a hot car and turned it homewards, the conclusion was unanimous – we had had a most enjoyable afternoon. ‘And we did not have to go anywhere far’, my husband, always the driver, rejoiced.
Indeed we didn’t: Newbridge House and Demesne is a meager 2 km away from our house, so virtually on our doorstep. It is natural for us, humans, to be enchanted by far away places, to fall under the spell of things new and unfamiliar. And yet, it is so true that it sometimes makes us overlook pretty cool things right under our nose. It is not a bad idea to play tourist in your local area now and again, to rub your eyes and open them up with some wonder and… attention.
In our case, we have been enjoying the Newbridge park and playground for a good while now. We knew the house had a traditional farm, but were waiting for our dear Sparrow to grow up a bit to be able to enjoy it before we splashed 14 euros for it (entrance fee for the three of us). Last Wednesday – a lovely sunny day in the midst of what seems more like November than May – seemed like a good time to finally enjoy our local attraction.
It was actually bigger than I had expected. The grounds are huge and well-kept after. It is a real pleasure just to take a walk in the old backyard of the 18th century country house, to peek into what used to be local blacksmiths or joiners workshops, to take a walk around the green pastures or sit down on a bench and slow down, take the surroundings in. There is a small exhibition of old carriages as well as agricultural tools. For the little ones, however, animals will no doubt be the main attraction. And there is a lot of them. There is all sorts of chickens, parrots, turkeys, pheasants, water birds by the pond, and plenty of peacocks roaming freely. There is also pigs (one of them has a litter of tiny ginger piglets at the moment), ponys, sheep, goats, a donkey, cows… Some of them, to the delight of the little ones, will gladly take fresh grass out of your hands.
As we walked around, I couldn’t help but wonder how our lives have changed within the last few decades. We have to take our kids to special ‘excursions’ to be able to see live animals. Surely it was not that long ago that most households had a few chickens and a goat grazing in the garden, and the milk came from a local farmer with a few cows rather than a supermarket. The farms weren’t all as grand as the Newbridge estate, with its own blacksmiths, joiners, and the crew to look after the house and the farm. And there surely are many things in favor of the modern life we are enjoying. However, taking in all this greenery in the sunshine, listening to the shrieks of cockerels and monotonous clattering of hens, watching the goats nibbling the grass and looking into the magical bottomless eyes of a sheep, I couldn’t help but wonder if we are missing out on something vital…
P.S. And all this just in time for this weekly writing challenge 🙂