Each Autumn, I love to gather my lot and my sister's lot together, to go for a big ol' family tromp through the beautiful estate of Knole Park in Sevenoaks. We all meet in the car park with dogs in tow and set off with the intention of deer spotting, but these days, with three big dogs to deal with, the deer are understandably less willing to approach - and who can blame them!
Follow my leader!
Polly was beside herself with excitement as soon as she spotted Bugsy in his cage on the back of my brother-in-law's truck and when Auntie Fo and Simon stepped out, she couldn't contain her excitement, pulling me across the grass to meet them as fast as she could ... there was no verbal command in the doggy obedience handbook firm enough to hold her back!
My husband and Polly
Marley, my niece's lab, arrived a few minutes later, sending Polly's excitement level soaring even higher, so by the time we started walking, Polly was full of beans! The scent of deer soon brought her inner sniffer dog to the fore, at which point I decided to let my husband take the strain!
My sister and Bugsy
Dogs are required to stay on their leads at Knole Park because of the deer, so we couldn't let them run off their excitement, we just had to bear the brunt until they settled into their stride. Once Polly relaxed a little, I popped her on her long training line and she had a thoroughly lovely time sniffing the ground frantically, while Bugsy the German Shepherd made sure everyone stayed close together and Marley the lab hauled my poor nephew-in-law relentlessly around most of the park!
Polly enjoying her walk
Not only did we have husbands, daughters and my sister's son-in-law with us, my two year old great-niece also donned little Peppa Pig wellies to join us. She loves walking outdoors and when she tired, happily took in the view from her carrier on good old Grandad's back.
Ella and Grandad
We all enjoyed our Autumn tromp and the dogs had a super time. Poor ol' Bugs was a bit over stretched towards the end of our walk because at nine years of age, he's not as young as he used to be and it was a pretty long walk. Next time, we'll make sure we don't walk him quite as far and maybe take a few more rest breaks along the way.
Marley with my niece and her husband
As for Marley, I think he probably went home every bit as lively as he arrived ... I'm sure he has Duracell batteries in him somewhere!
Polly was in her element with her best doggy pals AND most of her favourite people out together in the same place on the same day - she couldn't have been happier!
And if you were wondering, yes we did spot some deer! In fact they were so gentle, my daughter and little Ella even managed to feed them a few nuts while the dogs sat patiently.
By the time we completed a circuit of the park, we were all very ready for a hot drink at the kiosk, before wending our way home.
We've decided we need to return to Knole in the next few weeks so that my son and his fiance can join us before it gets too cold. We had to go without them this time because they were busy welcoming my first grandson into the world ... I can't wait for him to come out walking too!