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Fresh air and randy peacocks

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One of Harcourt Arboreteum's many residents

Spent a lovely morning wandering around the Harcourt Arboreteum, about six miles south of Oxford. Nothing earth-shattering to report – no man-eating hydrangeas or giant squirrels for example (although I did come across a baby mole – they really do have large hands and wet snouts and itty bitty whiskers you know).

But…  It was lovely and laidback and surprisingly engaging, a very pleasant two hours for the princely sum of £3.80. The Arboreteum is the antidote to the formality of Oxford’s Botanic Gardens, so it’s very ‘natural’, with several woods, parkland, a pond, a couple of flower glades. Plus peacocks seemingly around every corner, flirting madly with each other and probably having sex in inappropriate birdy corners of the woods.

Two children, one meadow, a whole lot of tortured flowers

There’s no cafe, though the presentable Mole Inn is just up the road in Toot Baldon if you want lunch, but you can bring a picnic blanket and guess how long it takes for the the peacocks try to nibble your ham sandwiches (clue: less than five).

My two and four year old both loved it – they spent a long time patting sculptures and collecting pine cones – and I reckon it could work its charm on bigger kids too, who can roam free in relative safety.

And think about yourself for once. It’s days until the little darlings are back at school and nursery. For your own sanity find a tree, and hug it for dear life.

Good for: everyone. Fresh air… suck it in!

Bad for: ornithophobes and coffee addicts.

Contact: Harcourt Arboretum, Nuneham Courtenay, Oxfordshire OX44 9PX. Tel: 01865 343501
Open every day 10.00am until 5.00pm. Last admission 4.15pm

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