Angmering Estate bluebells: How I’m keeping up with the Jonses on a walk in West Sussex

I don’t like to admit it, but I definitely like to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. Not so much in a material sense, as I don’t have the cash for that, but more in terms of hitting all the seasonal markers you see posted on social media.

Because, have you really ‘done’ spring if you haven’t got pictures of your family frolicking in the bluebells? Facebook would suggest not.

And when the bluebells have died out, the lavender sprouts just in time for the summer months (this is one trend I steer well clear of, as Katherine running around screaming because bees are daring to fly past her does not a pretty picture make), pumpkins are ready for autumn, and the obligatory ‘here are my children with Father Christmas’ snaps fill the winter period.

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So, in bid to be part of the in-crowd, last year, on a fairly miserable bank holiday Monday not unlike the one we’ve just had, I rallied the troops and trudged them into The Angmering Park Estate.

Katherine wanted to make sure she passed the spring module of this year's parenting exams. Bluebells - tick.

I knew there was a carpet of bluebells there, and despite my family not playing ball and running away every time I opened my phone’s camera app, I got some pretty pictures, we had a walk and it felt like mission accomplished. But in doing that, I’d started something. As we hit April this year, I started to get itchy feet.

We’d done bluebell pictures last year, so surely it was a massive parenting fail if we didn’t see them in 2022? Would I lose ranking in the perpetual parenting race if we didn’t see these beacons of spring again?

I couldn’t risk it, so back we went again at the weekend, and had a really lovely and peaceful stroll through the woods (well, as peaceful as it can be with a three-year-old singing Ed Sheeran’s Shivers for everyone else lucky enough to be there with us – don’t ask!).

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As much as we had a lovely time, and I’m so glad we went, I have to admit that trying to hit all the parenting milestones is actually quite exhausting.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling compelled to keep up with what others are doing, or feeling like I’m failing if we don’t do X, Y and Z with our children.

It’s great to get suggestions or ideas of places to go when people post them online, but not feeling guilty for not taking my children to all of them is definitely a work in progress and has given me food for thought...

Erm, when did I go all deep? Not sure what happened there, so here’s a tale about soft play to round-off.

I wanted to go out for the day on bank holiday Monday, because, well, see above.

But we didn’t really get up and going in time and the weather was just ‘meh’.

So, on a whim, I booked Out of Bounds to get the children out the house.

My husband, thinking I’d lost the plot booking an indoor children’s activity on a national holiday, immediately found things to do at home and left me to take them.

Yes, it was busy, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I feared. I even found a table, and when I saw another woman devouring a paperback novel as her children played (what a legend) I had visions of trying to find my Kindle downloads via my Prime app to join in and live my best life, too.

But then, like little soft play ninjas, they appeared and begged me to play ‘one game of hide and seek’.

So, in I went and spent an hour repeatedly banging my head, because it is tantalisingly close to being high enough for adults to walk around in there, but not quite. Yes, we were all sweaty messes, and I needed ibuprofen for my sore neck afterwards, but the children were happy, and at least I didn’t need to do a workout after that. The books will just have to wait until another day.

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