Today I went on a Gruffalo Hunt in Wendover woods. I say ‘I’ because despite being with Ellen it was pretty much a solo activity. The famous children’s book The Gruffalo is 15 years old this year and to celebrate this anniversary, Gruffalo trails have been set up in various woods across the country http://www.forestry.gov.uk/gruffalo. I should have realised I was onto a loser when I brought home a copy of The Gruffalo for us to read (in preparation of doing the trail) and before I could open it Ellen grabbed it and hid it in the cupboard – read the non-verbal signs!
Sometimes I struggle to set things at the right level for Ellen. Although she’s 17, she often enjoys things that a much younger child would enjoy, but I think today’s trail was below her dignity. Don’t get me wrong, It was a great idea, a trail around a short woodland path with animals from the story hung up in the trees and a huge wooden carved Gruffalo at the end. There were wooden markers along the route with ideas for woodland activities, but Ellen strolled right past them without a pause; far too grown up to ‘hop like a rabbit’ or ‘match the animal to its habitat’.
Perhaps in anticipation of the day’s events, Ellen had asked to have her face painted as Hide and Seek Woozle. So all was not lost. Although she ran past all the lovely Gruffalo-related material in the wood, she did play hide and seek behind A LOT of trees and the Gruffalo additions did give me extra places to ‘look’ for her. ‘Oh I do hope Hide and Seek Woozle hasn’t been eaten by this snake’ I proclaimed theatrically whilst trying not to look at Ellen in her oh-so-obvious hiding place. Luckily, being a school day, the trail was deserted otherwise I think I would have received some very strange looks.
After a lot of hiding (including a final hide behind the back of the giant wooden Gruffalo – hurrah), we went to have lunch at the Cafe in the Woods. Outrageous as it may seem, the cafe did not serve chips. This was obviously a big drawback as far as Ellen was concerned. She looked at her sausage and beans lunch with dismay, ‘urm McDonalds’ she said somewhat wistfully. The ‘Same but Different’ RDI principle for Ellen obviously requires the ‘Same’ item to be the chips.
Another challenge for Ellen today was the fact that washing up was added to Ellen’s list of things to do at the Community shop. The sensory aspect of the task was a particular difficulty especially since the rubber gloves which were available seemed to be made of some kind of thick immovable rubber and the only alternative hand-wear were disposable gloves which quickly became soaked. Note to self; take our own gloves next week. Ellen did manage to wash a couple of mugs before her hands got too wet and I scaffolded her to finish the task, first with me holding the mugs up so that she could just rub the cloth round them, then when even that became too much, we swapped roles and I washed up and she dried. Definitely something to work on over the next few weeks.