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The Hunt for the Golden Key

posted Aug 19, 2014, 11:42 PM by J Norton   [ updated Oct 13, 2014, 2:23 PM ]
I have been blessed in this life with two sets of granddaughters, who were born approximately fifteen years apart.

The stories I told my elder granddaughters were brought out again years later, retold with embellishments. The first time round, I was a novice, often thinking on my feet, as Sarah the eldest granddaughter had inherited my naturally suspicious nature, and would not only retain all I told her, but cross reference previous answers against the new ones (something Charlotte, the elder of the twins appears to have inherited).

The stories, designed to send a stubbornly unsleepy child to the Land of Nod, require quite a lot of repetition, so the climbing of the mythical grassy steps into the secret garden, required enumeration of various wild flowers which adorned each step, and a detailed description of the jewels which encrusted the golden gates at the top of these steps, and led into the magic world of two milk-white unicorns, brothers, named Norman and Harold, who conducted them into the secret garden and helped them enjoy the various adventures which ensued and are acted out each Christmas time by means of messages concealed in the Advent Calendar.

Hilda, their fairy, who resides in the Fairy Stone (when she isn't rescuing birds and small creatures from the vagaries of the weather) assists in these matters between Christmas and Easter, when the Easter Bunny temporarily takes over.

The long six week summer holiday seemed an ideal time to add to the excitement, as they have been looking for a secret door to the grassy steps which will lead to the Secret Garden for sometime now, and the opportunity came some weeks ago when we saw exactly what we needed at Hampton Court Castle, not the one near London, but another such house in Herefordshire, which is blessed with the most beautiful gardens, and well worth a visit should you be in the vicinity.

Of simple construction, we accomplished the making of the door last weekend. It required the cutting of a shape into the trunk of a dead old tree, the application of paint, a handle and a keyhole, and the rest is all in a child's imagination. We sat back and waited for the discovery.

The screams of excitement and delight told us it was made last Sunday morning, followed by a frantic hunt for the key about the garden, which went to the extreme of Charlotte clambering onto my husband's shoulders to search an empty bird's nest, just in case Hilda - whose main object in life is to assist the birds - was using it as a handy repository.

Did they find the key? Not yet. There are still two weeks of the holiday to go, and what better way to keep the interest going than a key hunt on fine days? There are many keys to be concealed about the garden to keep them looking and trying, and as all adults know, the allure of the possible far outweighs the accessible.

And then, when the weather turns, Christmas and the Advent Calendar hie into view. Another story told by Harold and Norman is surely in the offering. Children grow up so quickly these days, who knows how much longer they will believe in the Secret Garden at the Top of the Grassy Steps where wonderful things happen, but until that sad day, there are always adventures to be had, dreams to be dreamt and two milk-white unicorns with silver hooves, silken manes and little golden horns just waiting to join them in another adventure.