Dartmoor Holiday

Last week the six of us took a week away in our absolute favourite place in the entire world – Dartmoor, the place where Max spent the early part of his childhood. We rented an absolutely gorgeous 2 bed cottage on a farm, with a lovely garden that the children tented in. Lower Hookner was owned by Max’s Gran in the years before he was born and he also remembers playing there as a child; the current owners remember him too and even recognised Maddy as being the most like him as a child :) If you fancy a quiet place to visit Dartmoor from, i really recommend the farm – both the little cottage and the main one are beautiful and staying there is a complete pleasure. The girls adored the ducks, the horses, the lamb, the dogs (oh my, the dogs!) and the people. Josie now wants to own a farm.

We had an absolutely wonderful week – the weather smiled on us, as it normally does when we go there, we were made incredibly welcome by the owners and we had a chance to do some of the regrouping that we desperately needed. Along with that, we had some lovely days out and spent some time with Max’s brother and family and also popped in to see Sarah.

Before we left, we had to take Amelie to a gym competition; she was cross because she screwed up her vault (even worse than normal) and so got a second place of 2 in her level (not much of a competition!) overall – but her floor was lovely. Hopefully it will concentrate her mind on having to work harder at vault!

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On Sunday we had a day with cousins at Castle Drogo.
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It was also Fran’s birthday – she’s now 12 – so presents happened in the morning and little treats through the day.

Lots of duck watching in the evening…
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I did slightly break my heart over the white duck (it had to be the white one) who having finally been adopted somewhere she was allowed to hatch eggs, only managed to hatch one, who was not viable and didn’t live. Felt a little close to home really.

Monday we spent down by the river, mainly naming rocks, so far as i can remember and shopping for warm weather clothes and food.
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That evening we tried a walk to the moor but ended up by another river instead.
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Tuesday, we might not have done much.
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The girls were loving the dogs, doing jigsaws and playing games. Josie fell completely in love with all the dogs and spent most of the week hung round their necks in total worship mode. We all enjoyed watching one of them herding ducklings in the evening.

Wednesday we took a long walk from Bellever Forest to Laughter Hole House – i’m deleting the picture of me from the walk!
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Stopping off at Postbridge for ice cream and a paddle.
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I don’t want this post to be about Freddie really but there were parts of it which i felt very keenly, either the loss of him, or the presence of him. It’s something to write about another day but a couple of moments stood out. One was the ice cream man – he commented, as people do because with 4 girls we are a noticeable family, on our 4 girls and said he had 5 boys. He asked if we’d be adding to the brood yet. And we said nothing. We all said nothing, Max (i think) stilling the temptation to do so (and what could it possibly achieve?) and the girls looking at us for a lead or to see whether we (i?) were upset. I bit my tongue and betrayed my baby boy. But what else can you do? For the rest of my life i’m going to have to decide on a case by case basis how many children i have.

It hurts. It hurts terribly. It hurts more than people who ask me if perhaps i ‘can’t carry boys, do you think?’ or ‘you are coping so well’ or (the killer) ‘you just have to be grateful for the others you do have’. It hurts every time i have to say 4 not 5, to save the feelings of someone else. And to not turn into a mad woman people step away from. I keep wondering how people think it might help me to wonder if my body broke him because he was a boy, or what choice i have but to cope, or which child was supposed to be disposable. And i know people say those things meaning well and i appreciate the care, i really do, but this child loss thing is just death by a thousand invisible knives, none of them obvious.

But mostly it just hurts to deny him, like he never existed.

But still.

Wednesday we popped to Exeter to recharge the air-con (thereby breaking the weather and annoyingly it must be leaking as it only lasted an hour!) and then to Teignmouth for boat watching and tea.

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The next day we did a round of family graves down there, something which sounds odd but which we all find curiously peaceful and comforting. By Gran’s grave there is a child buried in th same year she died – last time we went, it had hama bead shapes hung on it and so the girls went to look at it. And saw the name of that little child – Frederick James – which would have been Freddie’s name had he lived long enough to ever be registered with a long name. I think we were all a little taken aback.

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More ice cream. And a trip to the top of Kestor where i think i began to feel that i was going to be able to find some peace about Freddie in something tangible that i love about Dartmoor. We also found our letterbox (old fashioned version of geocache for the uninitiated!) which has been up there 3 years and is nearly full of comments :)

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After that we went on again and, because it was unfortunately part of what we needed to do that week, looked at the place we want Freddie to be buried. We found a nice spot, open to the moor and with some other babies, near the playground.

Friday included a trip to visit friends on their farm – Fran was particularly delighted with some (*choke*) bareback pony riding. Lovely gossip (thank you so much for the ear) and much fun. In the morning we did a fairly hefty hike up Easdon, right to the trig point and also walked to the farm Max lived in, which i’d never seen before.

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Then it was time to pack up and go home, stopping for a last night in Exeter on the way back. It was a lovely week, just what we needed.

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(Yes, that is Josie, out on her own, playing with a Border Collie. Really. No… REALLY!)

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  1. says

    Well, for the whole of last week we were only a few miles apart, and we never knew it!

    We’ve just got back from Devon and enjoyed the same lovely weather.

  2. Joyce says

    I’m so glad you had a good week and for the peace it brought you. I never ask anyone the ‘how many children’ question, as well, you just never know…

  3. Michelle says

    Lovely week Merry :-). I usually answer depending on the question. How many children you’ve had or how many children do you have. Had 3 got 1. Mostly people ask have.

  4. says

    hello , hope you are able to locate Rachel and Tim , Freddie s parents . Somehow a copy of your comment to them arrived in my Inbox . I have read your blog with great interest and sadness , learning about your baby Freddie.

    Let me know if you have problems contacting them as I have an email address for Tim and their details on Facebook too .
    Im sure they will contact you , Shelagh

  5. Rosemary says

    I got asked the ‘how many’ question only yesterday and despite it being many. many years on still got tied up answering. I thought of you.

  6. Jeanette says

    What strange syncronicity (can’t spell it) to have marked out another Freddie’s grave. I don’t think you betrayed him by keeping quiet. Perhaps it would have felt more of a betrayal to him and to you to have found yourselves having to manage the ice cream man’s feelings rather than paying attention to your own. And one more thing …. (hope I’m not preaching!) I do understand the ‘mad woman’ thing and I think, every once in a while, its worth being the person that others step back from to think and praps see things from a different perspective … and the people who really matter won’t ever step back.
    Love J

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