The weather was absolutely beautiful, and we spent the morning exploring a few of the shops (I disappeared into clothing-and-interior wonder-emporium The Hambledon, and almost didn't come out again. SO. GOOD) and pottering about in a little garden we found at the top of a set of stone steps. There was a large, official looking sign that declared it to be a 'site of tranquility', which meant we almost turned and left - the kiddos are anything but tranquil - but there didn't seem to be anyone else around, so we turned them loose. At the back of the garden was a hedged area, which held a beautiful wildflower bed full of poppies and tulips and about a gazillion types of flower that I didn't even recognise - and to my horror, there was a lady sitting on a bench, reading a newspaper. I started to apologise profusely for the noise, but she reassured me that it was fine, and that she loved to hear children laughing and having fun; pretty nice to hear in an age where we're encouraged to train our kids to be quiet and sit still all the time. Ben and Daisy have impeccable manners, are incredibly friendly and entertaining, and are a joy to be around - but they absolutely will not stay in one place or be quiet; they're the sort of children that are at home racing through the mud or clambering on things. Not a bad thing - we just tend to avoid coffee shops and museums!
We headed to The Pitfield for lunch; I'd turned to Twitter for advice on where to eat if you have children in tow, and this place got a whole load of votes. When we got there, I could see why; as well as selling food, this incredible place was also rammed with traditional homewares, eclectic furnishings and a heap of accessories that made me want to empty my bank account. Vintage tin buckets and planters were stacked teeteringly high, bottles of oils and jars of sauces jostled for space on the shelves, and classic, old-style feather dusters and bottle brushes were squeezed into ceramic pots. I wanted to park my bottom on the nearest chair and never leave. The food was incredibly tasty, and the service was great; the staff really knew their stuff and couldn't do enough to help. If you're in the area, I highly recommend visiting (if only for the amazing red velvet cake *drools*).
With full bellies, we headed back out into the sunshine to walk off our lunches; I spent a lot of time clutching the Husband's arm and shouting, "LOOK AT THAT AMAZING COTTAGE", Daisy had a nap, and Ben was overjoyed to spend a good hour clambering among the ruins of the castle. We piled into the car to head for home tired, considerably poorer but very happy.