We’ve been planning a family visit to London for this coming weekend, in part to celebrate our daughter’s birthday, but also to take the opportunity to introduce our grandchildren to the ‘sights’. So why are we now heading for a country park instead? Well, it’s a question of breathing space, really.
Once you start to organise a day out in the capital city, for four adults and three small children, it’s not just the Millennium Eye that’s rotating. Anyone who’s familiar with the film of Fantastic Mr Fox will know that possum feeling.
Yes, it’s disappointing not to be taking the little ones on an exciting – for them - train ride. It’s not such a let down to know that we’ll avoid the crush on the Tube, the fumes, the crowds, the noise, etc.
No doubt, after a day of running and climbing in the woods, there will be three pairs of tired young legs, not to mention the four pairs of considerably older legs. But it’s a different kind of achiness you get, keeping your balance, or testing your ability to scale fallen tree trunks that are twice your height.
Cities can leave you drained in so many ways, so we’re leaving the stone steps and concrete pavements for another day. It reminds me of a time, around 30 years ago, when we were visiting relatives near Southampton, having driven up from our home in Cornwall. We were out in the car on a Saturday morning, when our daughter – 5 or 6 at the time - surveyed the scene before remarking that she was bothered by the constant movement of so many people. As I recall, she was most anxious about where they were all going to. It would have been so tempting to quote a line or two of Donovan’s ‘The Observation’.
On the sidewalk the people are hustling and bustling
They ain't got no time so they think on the thing
That will fill in the space in between birth and death
Who're they kidding?
Obviously I exercised restraint, on that occasion, something I can guarantee the grandchildren won’t be doing when we turn up here!