A trip to the gardens

Eleanor has mastered the art of the story.  She will pick up a book, open it to the first page and authoritatively state: “Once upon time.  The end.”  Then  she will close the book.  Probably her story-telling skills will develop over time but I feel that she has dealt with two tricky elements of a good story (how to start and  how to finish), and  only needs to flesh out the middle.  In  the car on the way to the gardens she was looking at a little book that is ostensibly the story of Cinderella but features a bear as the leading lady.  Changing Cinderella into a bear  but leaving the Prince a human makes the Prince a man  with a  very odd  fetish.

Once we get to the Botanical Gardens we walk to the duck  pond  armed with some stale bread.  Eleanor hurls it at the ducks who obligingly gobble at it.  The Botanical Garden  ducks are unreliable.  On some days there  can be a surfeit of little girls and boys with bread, and  the ducks float about languidly  with distended bellies and a total lack of interest in all forms  of bread.  On these days you can pelt the ducks with bread, you can bounce it off  their half open bills, and you will not stir the smallest pang of gluttony.  Sometimes they seem to stare at you  with glassy eyed disdain: “What? More bread?  How original.”

After the duck pond we walk on to a pool with a statue in the middle and little bronze frogs around  the lip of the pond.  The statue in the middle appears to be of Oscar Wilde as a toddler, with birds sitting on him: he looks somewhat regal, and overweight and ridiculous all at the same time.  The frogs are cool.  They squat on the lip and pour water out of their mouths  and into the pond.  They have smooth, strokeable backs,  and  lovely stout legs.  Eleanor is fascinated by the coins that people have thrown into the pond and takes some.  We tell her to put them back.

“But why?”

“People make a wish and throw the money in.  If  you take the money their wish won’t come true.”

Eleanor takes the coins back to the pond and drops them in.

Then we go to the Begonia House and look at the fish in the big stagnant  lily pond.  There are swarms  of little fish: orange and black and yellow.  Eleanor dips her fingers in and squeals,

“One  of them bumped me!”

She puts her hand back in hopefully, and after a minute asks, “do fish bite?”

I say we are leaving  but she ignores me.

In the end we have a juice at the cafe, and Eleanor  is delighted to drink from her bottle without a straw.  The glamour of doing things  that adults do.  Rosamund snoozes in the pram.  The waiters flirt with each other and check their cellphones.

It’s summer.

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4 thoughts on “A trip to the gardens

  1. May I just say, although it is not really relevant to your lovely story, that I had the worlds worst service at that cafe. It was so bad that I sent an email of complaint, to which I recieved no reply – but I did think that was typical of the service I recieved that day.

  2. “The waiters flirt with each other and check their cellphones.”
    I think this is an indication of the service at this cafe. At least they are consistent.

  3. Yeah, although it sounds lyric in the post the waiters flirting and checking their cellphones actually irritated me: “It’s a job not a party, dearies.”

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