Give a young child a blank sheet of paper, some colouring pens or crayons, and ask them to draw a picture of the countryside, stand back and expect the unexpected.
The imagination of a five year old won’t be held or contained by a prescribed landscape. There may well be elephants climbing a mountain and a rocket ship in the farmer’s back yard. More importantly, there will be good reasons for both.
When we came across a shepherd’s mobile dwelling, in the grounds of Mottisfont Abbey, last weekend, the grandchildren were all over it like a rash. Instinctively, you want to inform and enlighten, but it’s so much more fun to hear what they have to say.
We climbed the steps and entered the tiny space where the shepherd would have sheltered when he wasn't out and about, tending his flock. At the far end of the caravan was a short bunk. “That’s where the shepherd would have slept,” I said.
“Yes, and he died there too,” came the solemn response.
“Well, we can’t know that for sure, can we?”
“I do. I know that.”
Later, when we were taking a final look from the outside, one of the twins tugged at my elbow. “You see those wheels, Ga?”
“Yes, I see them.”
“They’re on the shepherd’s house because he’s allowed to go on holiday.”
“Oh, I see.”
So nice to know that the poor chap managed to enjoy a short break before expiring in his bed.