Since my Mum’s death, I have watched and researched lots of things about bereavement to equip myself with all stages of grief. I remember watching a video that said “You always expect first milestones after a loved one’s death to be hard. But actually, you end up surrounded by people that care, and your heart protects you on those days. That actually the unexpected things like finding old Christmas cards or food your loved one enjoyed. Those unexpected moments become harder than milestones”. I never understood that to be true until we got through the first mothers days recently, then just last week my Mum’s first birthday in heaven.
For those who don’t follow me on social media, my Mum died in February 2021 and has been a victim of covid. Unsurprisingly, her death hit us all incredibly hard but my middle daughter, who is eight years old, has had a tough time coping with grief. We all knew her birthday was coming up at the end of May because we talk about my Mum many times each day. It was important to me that not only did we celebrate her birthday and signify her day. I knew that as a family, we needed to do something to keep our minds distracted.
First of all, to celebrate my Mum’s life, we bought her a beanie flamingo toy. Her favourite animal. It’ll sit with the artwork we had made on our windowsill. It brings me so much joy to have little reminders of my Mum and it’s important to always talk about her.
As for our day out and distraction. We booked tickets for the All About Dogs Show event in Hylands Park. My Mum was happiest when surrounded by animals and one of the places we’d hoped to go to together was Crufts. So this felt like the perfect opportunity to do something she adored and have fun as a family. Eva is also desperate for a dog, so this would give us all a chance to see lots of breeds all in one place.
It took us about an hour from our house to get to Hylands Park in Chelmsford. The parking was free, I think we actually went in the wrong car park that was a little further away from the event but was quiet and only a short walk across the field. ￼
Although we went to the All About Dogs event in Hylands Park, there are others throughout the year and in various locations. So do check the website for information on the upcoming shows. Entrance tickets cost £12 per adult and £6.50 per child aged 5-16.
Arriving at the event filled me with so much excitement. I’m a big lover of dogs and in every direction, there were people with their beautiful companions. I could tell that the girls were equally ecstatic. There was a moving but socially distanced queue to get into the event, we showed our tickets and entered.
The entire event was enclosed with railings, I could see this being a big bonus for those bringing their pups along. I quite liked knowing that my daughters wouldn’t be able to easily run off, although saying that they’ve never ever attempted that before.
All About Dogs at Hylands Park was a two-day event running on Sunday and bank holiday Monday. We visited on Monday. Once we’d got through the gates, it was clear to see that we were a little out of place considering we didn’t own a dog. All around the outside were stalls selling dog-related goodies. I know that one day we will be dog owners, so I quite liked looking at the many different items available to get ideas.
They had put in a one-way system, although I’m not sure it was too strict, everything flowed well though. There was portable toilets available and a drinking water tap to fill up bottles. It was a particularly hot day, there was plenty of troughs and bowls filled with fresh water for the dogs to hydrate.
Although there was plenty of food options and some areas to sit and eat, we had packed a picnic and decided to head out of the showground to the Hylands Adventure Park. Our girls had spied it when arriving and we’d promised them we would play. Especially as we don’t live locally. The playground seemed to be all eco-friendly and wooden. It was so big and well looked after.
Eva sadly bumped her head during their playtime, she walked straight into one of the wooden bars which she hadn’t seen because of wearing a sun hat. Luckily, Hubby was very prepared with a KoolPak to pop on her head to bring down the swelling. We then managed to grab a bench in the shade to enjoy our lunch together before heading straight back into the dog show.
Stupidly, I had read the show timetable wrong and thought that the police dogs would be putting on a display. Sadly this happened on the Sunday show and so we had missed it. It was quite disappointing for us as I’d hyped the girls up, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom because there were other displays and obedience training shows to watch. Of course in the little arenas they had the “best in the show” and “best pet” etc running most of the day.
We also loved watching the dogs splashing about in the huge swimming pool. It was interesting to see how different dogs reacted to water. I think we could have stayed admiring that area for the entire day, it was very entertaining! We bought some fudge at one of the stalls, we stroked so many dogs throughout the day and really enjoyed being out in the sunshine together.
By mid-afternoon time, it had started to get rather busy. It actually just felt like a normal day and I had to keep reminding myself to distance the best I could from people. We took one last loop around the showground before heading back to our car for the journey home.
As you can see from the photo below, the girls had a brilliant day and were completely wiped out. Even Freya fell asleep and she almost never does in the car! Being at the All About Dogs show felt special. It was something that my Mum would have loved to attend and we hope to plan something similar for next year too. It certainly kept our minds busy and we were able to enjoy a day out feeling grateful for the love my Mum shared for us and animals too.
As I’ve said earlier, there are more All About Dogs events coming up throughout the year so I’d highly recommend checking if you have one local to book. It was a lovely day out, even if you don’t have a pet dog yourself. I filmed our day out which you can watch here: