I’ve just visited Houghton Mill in Cambridgeshire which is an entirely lovely location. It’s got an old mill, but it also has some lovely long riverside walks, some ponds to play in and a gorgeous little village.

Thatched roof
Thatched roof

You see the pheasant on the top of the roof in this picture? Well apparently every thatcher has his own ‘icon’. A bird, a badger, a mouse, it could be anything.

They make the icon from thatch and add it to the roof and it is in effect their business card. There are lots of thatched roofs around here and it’s sort of fun spotting which ones have been done by the same person.  Or am I just sad…I’ve also heard that during the civil war, Halifax’s supporters put certain items on their roofs, it might have been porcelain horses? Whatever is was, supposedly it indicated that this was a safe house for nay and all of Halifax’s troops.

The mill itself is set in a huge parkland and for once I was on a campsite: very nice it was too. I was walking Jack around the park environs and I was gobsmacked when he chased a goose not just to the lake, but into it! It was beating it’s wings furiously at him and he was swimming so strongly that I knew he was actually going to get the goose. Just then a bloke came in with some small children so I had to call him off. It was good for the goose, and the gander lol

Anyway a little later on a woman stopped me looking quite perturbed. “Can you help me please!” she said and in an instant I looked around for some form of threat, thinking she had been chased or something. She had 2 small lads with her though who seemed quiet but fine. “The kids ball has gone into the river, can your dog fetch it for me please?”

I stared at her, then looked in the river and sure enough, about 40 feet away the ball was bobbing in the rushes by the opposite bank. Now my dog is about 14 inches long, which is about the same as the ball! I almost laughed at her thinking, he couldn’t even fit it in his mouth. I was also thinking how do you tell a dog to fetch the ball that is 40 feet away in the rushes across a flowing river? I could see she was desperate but come on…she hadn’t thought this through lol

Anyway to the rescue came a girl on a board of some kind, and she asked the girl if she could get it.

Ball saver!
Ball saver!

The girl was happy to oblige, and here she is, on her knees, on her board, paddling furiously to rescue a stranded football. A cheer rose in my throat.

That’s Houghton Mill in the background by the way, and if you’re ever that way it’s a lovely location if you know how to enjoy yourself, rather than needing to be spoon fed entertainment. Fantastic picnic venue but when by the river, look after your balls!