This summer, we will be playing host to my friend’s three sons, aged almost seven (they are triplets). It is indeed a privilege to fill young hearts with beauty and magic, and my mother and I are so looking forward to it. To be honest, I wasn’t that excited about it, but my mother’s enthusiasm got to me 🙂

The boys were born and grow up in Monaco, a world apart from our simple life in a small town on the edge of the gentle wilderness of Hampshire, England. Instead of the stunning, dazzling waters of the Cote d’Azur and glamorous people, they will have the cold, grey Solent, its pebbly beach and humble families enjoying a day out (IF it’s sunny, that is).

Our duck pond is concrete-y and ugly, yet it rings with the happy laughter of children on a day out, being chased by angry geese or crabbing with a piece of string and bacon, eating ice-cream sold from old-fashioned ice cream van. So ordinary, yet Baffins form such a happy part of many a child’s early years, including my own children’s.

We often eat lunch in the garden or the kitchen (instead of the formal dining room), though knowing my mother, she is already planning picnics in the attic and drawing room for rainy days.

“What will we do, Tante Jacqueline?” The boys asked, three pairs of eyes peering at me courtesy of Skype.

I wouldn’t know where to begin. Where do I start teaching and showing them all the beauty and magic that I have been shown by my parents?

“Teach them about the three rivers, Jac,” my mother said. The Itchen, Hamble and Test. “Then move inwards slowly, following the old Roman roads. It’s all in your heart, my dear.”

And I thought, so true. I will show the boys the map of my heart. I will lie down with them under the canopy of trees in our magical forests and teach them to look for things in the skies. And we will storm the ancient walls of Portchester Castle as I once did, explore the woods surrounding Rowlands Castle (main picture) and climb to the top of Halnaker Hill. Oh so many things!

“We’re going to look for the Strandbeest,” I said impulsively, and told them all about these mythical creatures and the summer two years ago that I spent hunting for them in the Downs and the New Forest.

“Did you, your Ma and Daddy find any?” They asked, entranced. No, boys, it wasn’t my Ma and Daddy who told me about them, but a man who saved my life and kept death away for while.

“No we didn’t find any Strandbeest, but we were very, very happy when we went hunting for them.” We found many other things instead.

Here’s a lovely ‘syllabus’ from


Click on this link to go to Atlas Obscura to read about this really magical place.

We live but for such a short while, so make the most of it ❤

If you visit the Places section of this website, you will find posts about my beloved Hampshire.