Anyone who has come to our house in the last four years has most likely spotted the pink deer. My deer is meant to function as a doorstop, but on first bringing it home I placed it in pride of place on the mantelpiece in the dining room and there it has stayed. The deer is covered with a patchwork of pink and purple fabric that stands out beautifully against the TARDIS blue wall of the chimney breast. I think he is one of my favourite things in the house; I still think he is absolutely gorgeous four years on, and I have used him more than once as a prop in my Instagram photos.
Here is how I found him and brought him home…
2015, I was about five months pregnant and just beginning to develop a waddle. Rob and I had a three day mini-break in the medieval village of Dunster, Somerset. It was a beautiful village, surrounded by Exmoore National Park and with it’s own impressive castle. On the first day of the holiday we wandered the high street and spent a good few hours at the castle. On the high street was an independent gift shop with a window display full of patchwork animal doorstops. They were each brightly coloured and beautifully crafted, and I was very tempted to get one. I kept thinking of how much my little baby might like one. I hadn’t bought anything for the baby yet. All of our essential items; cot, car-seat, pram…etc had already been gifted to us by friends and family, (we have a fantastic community around us), but I was looking forward to finding, choosing and providing something for the baby. Something from Mummy to Baby, with love.
We went in to the shop for a closer look and the deer immediately caught my eye. I picked him up. He was heavy and solid and very beautiful. I read the label, ‘Hazardous for under three year olds”. Oh. I’m not sure if they the filling might be a choking hazard, or maybe it was so heavy it would be a smothering danger if left in a cot. Either way, first time mum that I was, I wasn’t going to disregard a label. I couldn’t get the deer for the baby. Never mind.
The next day our plan was to go for a walk through a wood, up a hill to see the ruins of a different castle, it was called Bat Hill Castle. Except the next morning there was a heavy persistent drizzle. Not great walking weather. ‘Never mind’, I said, ‘let’s go anyway.’ Rob looked doubtful but he didn’t protest.
The walk turned out to be much longer than we thought, and the rain was heavier than it looked, and I suddenly felt more pregnant than ever before. I waddled up and up the hill, I felt tired but we kept going, the higher we got the more the rain turned into a clinging wet mist. We began to realise that we wouldn’t see any spectacular views today, but never mind. Exploring ancient ruins in the mist was still going to be pretty cool.
Rob said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we got to the top and the ruins weren’t there.” I laughed.
We got to the top and the ruins weren’t there.
We walked for what felt like twenty hours to reach a flat green field smothered in grey clouds. No castle, no walls, nothing. Eventually we found a display stand with an illustration of what Bat Hill Castle looked like in it’s hey day. Underneath the drawing was an explanation how all that was left of the castle were the outlines of the foundations in lines of brick and stone in the grass. Sure enough on closer inspection there were a network of lines in the grass outlining rooms and boundaries. It was the very definition of underwhelming.
It was one of those points where you have to choose whether to laugh or cry. We chose to laugh but it was a bit of a hysterical laugh. We walked back to the B&B.
The nicest thing about wet disappointing walks is how good it feels to get warm and dry again. I had the most perfect hot bath when we got back, got in to some cosy comfortable clothes and then we walked to the near by pub for steak and chips, all the time making jokes about our misadventure.
The next day, I went back to the shop and bought the pink deer. Life doesn’t always go to plan, so I think you should go with what makes you happy when you can. I brought the deer home and put him on mantelpiece until the baby would be old enough to play with him.
Orla is three now. Old enough, according to the label, to play with the deer, and she occasionally does ask for me to get him down. She gives him a cuddle and serves him tea, sometimes other toys have a ride on his back. Then when the game is done I return him to the mantelpiece. I’ve grown used to having him there, and I still love his brilliant array of colours. It is a bit unusual to have a doorstop as the main feature of the mantelpiece but every time I see him there, he makes me smile. I remember that disaster of a walk, Rob making me laugh when I was so very tired and just how much love I already felt towards Orla, long before I knew her name, or saw her pretty blue eyes. I have so many memories and feelings attached to one silly, gorgeous pink deer.