When Russell and Sarajane were little they would often stay the night with Granny if Mum and Dad were going out. On Sunday mornings, they would like to get up early and go for walks in the countryside. A favourite walk was over Ashridge Common near Berkhamsted.
One of the main landmarks of the estate is the Bridgewater Monument; the monument stands on the ridge overlooking the village of Aldbury – the village where Russell’s Granny was born. (well worth a visit if you haven’t been there)
There are several herds of Fallow deer in this area and they always hoped to see some, making Ashridge the number one choice for a Sunday morning walk.
Deer are quite nervous animals and tend to keep away from humans, especially noisy young humans, so as you can all guess we never did actually see a real live deer. There was always a lot of banter and questions, most of the noise being someone saying “Keep quiet!” in too loud a voice.
On one particular walk we were on the way back to the car (having seen no deer) when we came across a small white Van parked just off the road. Russell ran over to have a look at it as he wondered why it was there so early on a Sunday morning. He then called SJ and me over to look as well. The van had a large dent at the front and was covered with hair and blood.
“What do you think happened?”
I said it must have hit a deer, on reflection that was probably not the best answer, and than the questions began…..
“Where is the Deer?”
“Do you think it’s OK?”
“Is the driver OK?”
“Where is the driver?”
“Why did he hit the deer?”
“When did he hit the deer?”
At this point I decided the best course of action was to go back the way we came but we were now past the point of no return, as finding the deer was top of the agenda. So we continued, with me hoping against hope that the accident had happened in the opposite direction, and wondering what to do should we find an angry injured deer.
Fate was not on my side, and soon enough we found the deer. Then the questions started again…..
“Is it dead?”
“How do you know its dead?”
“How do you think it died?”
Russell eventually plucked up enough courage to go up and touch it and finding it cold, decided that it really was dead. Then he asked if he could take it home to show Mum. No prizes for guessing the answer to this one. All the way home the conversation was all about the poor dead deer.
“Do you think it was really dead?”
“We do feel sorry for the deer.”
“Do you think its still there?”
“It may not have been dead, can we go back to check?”
From then on, each time went for a walk at Ashridge we had to do the same walk just in case we saw another deer.
We never did see any live Deer but that poor dead deer was never forgotten.
Several years later when Sarajane belonged to the school pony club, they used to send the ponies to a farm at Ashridge for the summer holidays. She spent many summer days riding ponies along the bridleways over Ashridge common and seeing the occasional herd of deer – thankfully all alive and well.