Wet forestIt looked like today was going to be a fine, fine day. The sun shone, the sky was blue and more or less cloud free, so once we’d had breakfast and sorted out some other bits and bobs Ariel and I agreed to go to the countryside.

Since today is the first of December (oh. my. god. December!!! ahem) which is the first day of free* admission into Westonbirt Arboretum where I haven’t been since last December, and since we wanted to get some pine cones to make Christmas decorations with, we decided to go there and take a bag. 🙂

(* In theory you pay for parking, but only if they can be bothered to staff the kiosk which usually they don’t.)

On the way it started raining, quite hard. As we drove southwards the skies got darker and the roads got wetter… And I’d forgotten quite how far it is to Westonbirt. However, we were committed and decided we would have a pub lunch somewhere and wait to see if it cleared up when – hey presto! – it cleared up. The rain eased off, the sun came out, a rainbow appeared and then faded as the rain gradually stopped. It was really quite magical and beautiful, and just as were arriving too.

So we parked up, got out and headed into the forest. Pine cones abounded. Trees abounded. There were lots of swooshy leaves to swoosh in. We both had wellies on. It started to rain a little but that was OK. Pine cones, fallen leaves, puddles, wellies, nice trees to look at. Everything is going to be fine. The rain fell harder. We could have fun hiding under the shelter of the trees, right? And see which ones kept the rain out best, or something. Everything is going to be fine.

Then the rain turned white. Yes, a hail storm. We hid under the trees, poor Ariel wailing because when I eventually managed to persuade her to put her hood up a load of ice went down her neck, until eventually the hail stopped – but the rain didn’t. On the way back to the warmth of the cup-of-tea-arium I tried to cheer her up by jumping on the piles of icedrops and singing silly made-up songs about people who go out expecting fun in the sun and end up playin’ in the rain. But that did not work at all.

Oh dear. This was NOT the plan.

Still, it got better from there. We found an amazing lot of pine cones on the way back which were so big and fine that even Ariel was impressed – although not as impressed as she was by hot food and a cup of tea. We rescued the day by stopping in Nailsworth on the way home which has a lovely chocolate shop and various other overpriced but very nice gifty type shops, where we treated ourselves to a couple of nice things. Then we spent a warm, dry afternoon cooking and doing playdough and watching the penguin thing yet again and finishing Ariel’s new hat, which is very nice and she is amazingly pleased with.

So much for plans…

Here are the pine cones, rather wet but on their way to being dry – see what I mean about the big, fine, paler ones?

And here is the hat:

I am particularly pleased with the flower on top: