If you have been a regular reader over the past few years, you will recall that each year, I gather my family together to share an Autumn afternoon in the beautiful Knole Park estate.
In past years my sister and her family have joined us for a ramble, but this year they needed to take a rain check, as they are very busy renovating my lovely niece's first home and helping her fly the nest towards independent life. I am sure we will find time for a get together once the final coat of paint has dried and her new curtains have been hung in place.
So, this year, it was just my immediate family who donned wellies and joined my husband and I for our annual 'family tromp' ... and of course, Polly and Betty too!
My son did a sterling job carrying not only a large rucksack around the park on his back, but also his son's bicycle ... and when those little legs couldn't manage any more walking, my Grandson also hopped onto Daddy's broad shoulders!
It was so lovely walking and chatting with my family in such beautiful surroundings. I love that they still want to do this as a family as it's hugely important to me that we make time for one another now that we live apart.
I think the dogs were rather excited at the prospect of finding deer (hence their leads) and Polly was delighted to have my daughter to walk with. As for Betty, her excitement levels were so high she pulled like a steam engine, just like last year (!) then slept like a log in the car on the way home. Being young and excitable is exhausting apparently! Polly on the other hand, was on her very best behaviour for Fay.
I'd like to thank my daughter's fiancé for taking fab photos of our family visit. Although he was busy discreetly taking pics, he didn't quite manage to avoid the camera lens himself as I managed to snap him hard at work ... aha!
I was also determined to photograph at least one deer myself before we left the park, so my daughter and I left the dogs with the others and undertook a spot of deer stalking with my grandson. Fay collected chestnuts and the deer were happy to approach her for a snack while Toby and I watched from a safe distance.
Those fallow deer were so pretty!
To round off my very special family afternoon, a magnificent stag obliged by looking our way long just enough for me to take his photograph, then he bellowed loudly ... it's rutting season and I am absolutely certain all the ladies must be most impressed by this fine fellow!
Thank you family, for making time for our lovely Autumn walk. Here's to doing it all again next year!