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The Boathouse, Newmillerdam

It’s the first day of the half-term holidays, keenly aware that being stuck indoors with my kids will make them devolve into wild animals, and also drive me insane, I have taken them out for the morning. There’s a variety of places we can go, as we live in a fairly rural area, but we settle on Newmillerdam, a picturesque lake set amid beautiful forests.

Also you can park for free if you know the good spots to dump your car, which I do.

We park up and get our gear out, trike for my daughter, and scooter for my son.

He’s not usually slow in deciding that the scooter bores him and he would, in fact, prefer to gambol amid the fallen leaves. Today is no exception. Setting a new, for him, record of 95 seconds, he proffers me the scooter ‘Don’t want my scooter’ he says to me. I sling it over my shoulder, being grateful that it’s not his bike, and we continue on our way.

My son rubs his finger over his right temple. ‘I’m scratching my skull daddy’ he says to me, as we walk though the arboretum, amid the fallen leaves of Autumn. ‘Inside my skull is my brain’ he adds, in case I was unaware of this fact.

He’s at an interesting stage, he’s coming up to five-years old and has stopped asking me questions all the time. Now he is telling me things all the time instead. I suspect this is down to him having just started school.

As if to reinforce this fact he brings our small caravan to a halt, as he informs me of why leaves fall from trees. A couple and their dogs pass us as he holds forth. ‘Half way through the tour’ I tell them ‘My son’s the tour guide’. They laugh politely and continue. You meet a lot of children people and dog people in this life. They were definitely dog people.

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After about 45 minutes of pleasant strolling, I realise I need to empty my bladder. I manage to find a secluded spot, park the trike and head over to some welcoming undergrowth. As I’m halfway through my act something makes me turn my head. The trike my daughter is in has begun to move forward. I spin around spraying the shrubbery – and myself – and make a dash for her. There’s only a small step in front of her but it will be enough to tip her out.

I don’t need to worry though. My son’s already noticed and has stopped her in the nick of time.

We turn around and head back to the car. We pass people on the way back, they nod and smile. It’s amazing, I think to myself. If I was on my own I probably wouldn’t merit a glance, but add a couple of cute kids to the mix and everybody smiles.

It’s only after I put the kids in the car, and settle in my seat, that I notice the all-too-visible wet-spot, from the urinary-mishap earlier on.

Ah so, not smiling at the kids then were they….?

As an aside I will be noting, as the week goes on, how many people say hello when we are out walking, in environments that lend themselves to this. The art of exchanging a simple greeting is a dying one, which is a great pity.

NUMBER OF PEOPLE WE SAID HELLO TO: 16

NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO RESPONDED IN KIND: 11.5*

(* .5 given as he gave a kind of ‘tight smile’ back)

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