Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Road Trip: end of the road

And finally, we're home.

Actually we got home last night, but I was (for a change) too exhausted to contemplate writing anything. Besides, it was quite nice to sit with BigBear and catch up on life and the Vuelta a EspaƱa.

Between Lyme Regis and home we stopped for two nights at GrannyBear's house, which I think GrannyBear more or less survived, and more or less enjoyed. I think two days with LittleBear brought her almost to the same level of exhaustion as me though, so it's probably a good thing it wasn't any longer than that.

One of my favourite parts of staying with GrannyBear, aside from having a bed to myself, and aside from two nights of gloriously uninterrupted sleep, and aside from having a chance to do the crossword with GrannyBear*, was the fact that LittleBear, upon seeing us doing a crossword, wanted to set one for GrannyBear. So, LittleBear choose some words, and I made a grid for them, and then LittleBear invented some clues...

First among his requirements was that the clues shouldn't be too easy for GrannyBear. Unfortunately, LittleBear has a rather over-inflated idea of GrannyBear's knowledge of dinosaurs, or of the inner workings of LittleBear's mind. Let me give you some examples:

Sometimes it's wobbly (5 letters)
Go on, admit it, you think it's jelly don't you? GrannyBear did too, but it's not. It's tooth. It's true that a major feature of the road trip has been a wobbly tooth, but it wasn't perhaps at the forefront of GrannyBear's mind to quite the same extent as LittleBear's mind.

Something which tries to creep up on people
Naturally enough, GrannyBear tried to think of as many sneaky predators as possible, knowing LittleBear's preferences. She did not, perhaps unsurprisingly, think of LittleBear himself, as he has rather more of a tendency to bounce up to people rather than creep as such. He lays claim to "sometimes" creeping up on people, so the solution to this particular clue was his own name.

Something with long claws (10 letters)
I particularly enjoyed this clue, mostly because of LittleBear's utter glee as he thought of it. I shall put you out of your misery and let you know that it's Suchomimus, a spinosaurid whose name means "crocodile mimic", due to its very crocodile-like skull. I suggested that we should perhaps mention its crocodilian features, to give GrannyBear a chance, but Littlebear demurred, "No Mummy, that would be too easy. This will be funny because Granny will think it's Baryonyx, and it's not!" In vain did I attempt to convince him that GrannyBear would most certainly not think of Baryonyx straight away, if at all, so poor GrannyBear was confronted with an almost insoluble clue.

I think GrannyBear can feel justifiably proud of herself for getting 7 out of the 10 clues (with a few extra hints) given the level of challenge she was set.

And then... we were back on the road again. And as we set off for the Motorway From Hell, the satnav reported even more foul traffic than usual, and suggested we go the other way. Let me show you...

The Motorway From Hell
We wanted to get from A to B. Generally, clockwise is shorter and quicker. We went anticlockwise. This was a decision of dubious worth, as it took us 3 hours and 118 miles to undertake what is normally a 2 hour and 90 mile journey. I'm clinging to the view that I don't know how bad clockwise was, and it might actually have been worse than our actual journey. Please don't tell me otherwise.

But, finally we're home, after 491 miles on the road.

It's been fun, but exhausting. Being a solo-parent for a week away from home was both rewarding in being utterly all-encompassing, and allowing me to be completely absorbed into my LittleBear's world, and also exhausting in being relentless in responsibility and concentration. So tomorrow I go back to work for a couple of days and let BigBear and LittleBear bond. And I am looking forward to it, just a teensy bit.

* Which I still haven't finished yet, dammit.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Road Trip: Day Something Or Other

Those of you who have been eagerly following my day-by-day account of my adventure to the Jurassic Coast with LittleBear will have been devastated to notice that I didn't write anything yesterday. This was for two reasons.

Firstly, I was absolutely exhausted. Properly, properly exhausted. I had thought that LittleBear's night-time rotations had run through all possible permutations, but I had not fully appreciated that there are times that, labrador-like, he seems to chase rabbits in his sleep. His little legs flail up and down as he runs wildly after little bunnies (or perhaps Lambeosaurs) and he grunts and wurtles to himself. This would be mildly distracting if he were simply lying beside me. And it was. It was more than mildly distracting when he was lying with his feet on my stomach.

Secondly, I was relishing the opportunity to put LittleBear to bed and then retreat to a different room, sit on an actual piece of furniture and speak to another human being. GrannyBear and I sat on a sofa and did a crossword together*.  This was a distinct improvement on the previous three evenings, where I had tucked LittleBear up, switched the light off and then sat on the floor in a dark corner, lit only by the ethereal glow of my laptop screen. Blogging in the dark is challenging. I can generally find all the letters by touch alone, and can stare at the screen as I type. If I want to do anything radical, like use punctuation, then I need to angle the screen downwards so it lights up the keys, at which point I can no longer see the screen. You can imagine it was a somewhat laborious process, because I'm quite fond of punctuation. And I was sat on the floor. Normally I don't mind sitting on the floor. I do it quite a lot. But after spending rather more time than I'd like, carrying rather more rocks in my back-pack than I'd like, up rather more hills than I'd like, my back was rather more painful than I'd like. Sitting on the floor was like twisting the knife in the red-hot agony of backache.

So, I didn't feel like writing last night.

But now LittleBear is happily watching a recording of Match of the Day**, and I can sit on Actual Furniture and type where I can see and all sorts of other luxuries.

Yesterday was a long, but enjoyable, stage in our road trip, back on the road again.

To avoid Further Incidents, I moved LittleBear's car seat into the front of the car, and I forbade the consumption of soft fruit at breakfast. The two-pronged attack was entirely successful, and we managed 95 miles, mostly on small, windy roads, without any complaints. Once again, I have no idea where we went, simply putting myself in the hands of the satnav. I can tell you we went past a village called West Camel, which was definitely our favourite for the day. Better even than Middle Wallop. And we also passed Stonehenge, which I attempted to explain to LittleBear. I'm not sure I managed to convey the full historical and cultural importance of Stonehenge... "but why would you travel thousands of miles just to come and see that Mummy?"

Nonetheless, we made good time, and before we knew it we'd arrived with the Bear cousins Somewhere In Hampshire. And I was able to relax into the warm embrace of family, enhanced enormously by the presence of BoyCousin, to whom LittleBear attaches himself whenever he sees him. I barely saw him for several hours as his (very tolerant) older cousin played lego with him, and played football with him and smiled and nodded as LittleBear became tired and deranged and talked nonsense. BoyCousin is nearly ten years older than LittleBear and yet is infinitely patient and kind with him. One day, I hope, he will realise just how huge a difference it makes to me to be able to talk to my aunt and (grown-up) cousins without constantly supervising LittleBear. It's almost like being a normal human being again. If I'm lucky, LittleBear will grow up to be as delightful a boy as BoyCousin.

And then, finally, the last leg of the day, a mere 45 miles back to GrannyBear's house. A bed to myself. Bliss...

* Actually, we attempted a crossword, and became slightly vexed when we discovered that the Grauniad had managed to publish a mis-print in their prize crossword. I suppose we should be proud of ourselves for being good enough to have solved enough to identify a mistake, but still...

** A 1-1 draw for Burnley against Spurs at Wembley, which, in the words of BigBear, "feels like a win to me".

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Road Trip: Day 4

This is one for those of you who like the "spot the next shape in the sequence" puzzles. Here you go:

What is it?
I lied. It's not a puzzle at all, it's a depiction of the various positions LittleBear is able to occupy in a double bed in one night. I shall make it easier for you by depicting my approximate location throughout these manoeuvres.

Some are less fun than others
I have also discovered how LittleBear shifts position in his bed at home. He braces his feet against the wall and pushes off to lever his body round. There is no wall beside this bed. There is, however, my stomach.

We were both, once again, a trifle weary come morning. But we still managed to have a Splendid Time. We visited two museums, bought some presents, did a spot more fossil-hunting, and made a new friend on the beach, with whom major excavations were undertaken, I say "made a new friend", making it sound like LittleBear is the kind to spontaneously make friends with new people. In fact, LittleBear and Charlie were digging neighbouring holes in the sand, when Charlie announced that they would be able to dig a much bigger and better hole if they worked as a team. Then he informed LittleBear that they should be friends, as friends worked as teams. LittleBear acquiesced to both these suggestions and calmly continued to dig a hole, now in the company of Charlie. They seemed quite content and it absolved me of having to join the digging party. At least until Charlie had to go home for lunch.

But the thing I am most proud of my LittleBear for has been his restraint and self-control in choosing a present for himself. At the start of this trip, I told him I would buy him ONE treat. In the first shop he saw, he fell with glee upon the first piece of plastic tat he saw. I suggested a strategy - I suggested that over the course of this stay, he remember all the things he saw that he liked and only choose between them on the last day, and then he would be sure that he got the thing he most wanted. And he agreed. Not only that, but he accepted my stricture that  £35 was too much for a plastic dinosaur. (Seriously -  thirty-five pounds. There were awesome, real fossils that cost less than that). So, today, after three fossil shops, two museum shops, a bookshop and a toyshop, LittleBear chose a rather adorable cuddly pterosaur. And he shows no signs of regretting any of the things he didn't get. And I am just immensely proud and pleased to have such a lovely little boy, who is not throwing tantrums about wanting more and more and more stuff, and who is so endearingly delighted with a new cuddly toy. And it wasn't £35.

LittleBear enjoying lunch with his pterosaur

Friday, 25 August 2017

Road Trip: Day 3

I was slightly tempted to describe this as "Night 2" as the night-time events assumed a disproportionate significance in my mind, not to mention contributing significantly to the fatigue levels experienced during the day. Let me introduce you to the bed I was confronted with when I decided to attempt to achieve blissful somnolence:

Where do I go?
I did, mostly, manage to wrangle LittleBear's legs back into roughly his half of the bed, but they showed a marked reluctance to stay there, introducing themselves to my stomach, back and legs for much of the night, and to my face at least twice. There was also a notable occasion  on which I heard LittleBear reach over for his water bottle and take a drink. When I didn't hear him put it back, I rolled over to tell him to do so, only to find him fast asleep, snoring and cuddling his water bottle. It appears he was able to undertake the whole process without waking up. Which I wish I could say for me.

But it's OK, I didn't have to withstand this for long. We woke up at 6 as the light streamed through the very pretty, but wholly inadequate, blinds.

Fortified by significant quantities of coffee, plus scrambled eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast, I felt better equipped to cope with a non-travelling day on our road trip. Well, not car-based travelling. We did spend 7 hours out and about around Lyme Regis, the bulk of it fossil-hunting, and covered 3.5 miles on foot when measured in a straight line (i.e. not including the dashing back and forth, clambering up and down and darting hither and yon that all outings with LittleBear involve).

It was a beautiful day, which was a pity...

A beautiful day

... because beautiful days mean quiet seas and no rain, which consequently means no fresh mudslides, no dramatic erosion, no turned over boulders, and little chance of interesting finds. We came perilously close to deep distress as the second hour of hunting ticked past with no new finds by LittleBear, and even chocolate and Haribo failed to completely raise morale. But all was not lost, as LittleBear adjusted to the idea that it was OK to find things that we couldn't take home with us, and then all was well again, because he was really good at spotting those.

Too big for Mummy to carry

(For my non-geologist friends, and I do have some, the hammer is there for scale, because otherwise that rock could be 2cm across or 2m across and no-one would be any the wiser).

And then we reached Black Ven, and LittleBear turned out to be a dab hand at finding belemnites. And then he found a beautiful little ammonite. And, of course, I have the added advantage that the three men running the fossil-hunting trip are all friends of my friend J, and my friend J had told them we were coming, so they were especially kind and friendly to LittleBear, and gave him a lovely belemnite with its tip intact, and a nice chunk of fossilised wood with calcite sparkling in it. To be honest, they were lovely people anyway, and very good with all the little people on the trip, but LittleBear was definitely the Littlest, and definitely appreciated the sense of being known by the men in charge.

And then we staggered home. Well, I staggered, weighed down not only with my rucksack of essential provisions to cope with All Emergencies That Could Befall a Bear, but also an alarming number of rocks. LittleBear ran, obviously. And wept when I couldn't (or wouldn't) run to keep up. And then he wept when I told him to blow his nose. And then he wept when I told him that if he was rude to me I'd send him to bed without any dinner. And then he wept when I told him not to throw my clothes into the shower. And then he wept because he couldn't remember why, but he wanted a cuddle. We were both a bit tired. But we had cuddles and ate chocolate chip cookies, and I said sorry for shouting, and he said sorry for being unhelpful, and we agreed we'd had a lovely day but were awfully tired.

But we washed our fossils and ourselves:

Clean fossils. And some rocks that we liked

And then, just to prove he really is one of my family, LittleBear sat in the bar with me playing cards before dinner, and I felt a glow of maternal pride.

My boy

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Road Trip: Day 2

Another 130 miles completed today. And it only took four hours. The insanity of coming to a major tourist hot-spot on the August Bank Holiday weekend is beginning to sink in.

Initially, I felt quite positive about the journey... it started well, with no lane closures on the Motorway Of Eternal Roadworks. We bombed down as far as Southampton. We paused, briefly, to purchase coffee for the driver, but no food as LittleBear insisted he wasn't hungry. Perhaps warning bells should have rung?

On we went, the roads reducing from motorway, to dual-carriageway, to single-carriageway, the speed dropping inexorably, the queues growing depressingly. When we still had fifty miles and an estimated hour and a half left to travel, LittleBear informed me he felt sick. As this is a semi-regular announcement in the car, I was perhaps not as sympathetic as I should have been. To be honest, "I'm turning round and going home if you whinge again" was perhaps not a justified response, not least because I had no intention of attemping another 150 miles in the opposite direction at that point.

A few deep breathes later and I cheerfully suggested eye-spy to take his mind off it. I was turned down.

A few more deep breathes later, as we joined a particularly tedious stretch of road, nose-to-tail in both directions and with no laybys, there was an ominous burping, gurgling noise from the back seat, as LittleBear's breakfast overflowed all over his front*.

It was several noxious-smelling miles before we found a garage to stop at. And LittleBear sat calmly in the effluent, commenting only with delightful understatement, "this is NOT a good start to the holiday. But I do feel a lot better now."

The lady in the petrol station who served me as I purchased bin bags, baby wipes and dettol wipes enquired only, "Sicky child? Has to be with that collection." But I got my moppet cleaned up, in clean clothes and his seat (mostly) clean, and covered in a plastic bin liner, and on we went. Lunch did not seem like a sensible option at this point.

As we proceeded to fight our way through ever more traffic, my ray of sunshine cheerfully pointed out that he hadn't been sick on his socks or his nanoos, so it wasn't all bad. And after a while we began to drive past fantastic place names - not just Tolpuddle, but the less-well-known Affpuddle, and Puddletown. Not to mention Piddletrenthithe and Piddlehinton. And then we began to get glimpses of the sea, and drove past a sign saying "Eype, 1/2 mile" which is where I used to holiday as a child, and where I used to find fossils. We may make a detour on our way home, for old times' sake. It is a road trip after all.

Finally we made it, and are now ensconced in a 17th century inn in Lyme Regis. We arrived in time for a trip to the shore, and LittleBear is over the moon to have found his first ammonites already (that he could take home with him) as well as some fossils that were embedded in rocks rather too large to remove. And we dibbled in the sea, and made a sandcastle, and ate chocolate chip cookies at 4:30 instead of having lunch. And had sausage and mash for dinner.

And miracle-of-miracles, LittleBear was asleep in our bed by 8:30.

That's right. Our bed. It was supposed to be a twin room, but it's a double. Which was so much fun last time we did this.

The only thing I'm looking forward to less than sharing a bed with my son is getting back in the car again in two days time. I had to go and get the bag of cuddly penguins before bed, and the sensory assault from his rather unpleasant car seat after it had sat in a hot car for several hours was quite extraordinary. I can only begin to imagine how that aroma will mature over the next few days...

One of these days I'll learn my lesson and not let my boy over-eat soft fruit before putting him in a car. We've managed the same feat three times now.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Road Trip: Day 1

As the school summer holidays draw to a close, LittleBear and I have embarked on something of a road trip. For some time, well, OK, since we went to the Isle of Wight two years ago, I've been promising LittleBear we'd go to the Jurassic Coast and go fossil hunting. So, I've booked a long weekend away with him, and arranged a fossil-hunting tour, and we're on the way! (And, with reference to the above post, we're staying in a hotel, so I don't have to do any cooking or cleaning! Hooray!)

But it turns out the Jurassic Coast is quite a long way from East Anglia, so we're taking it in stages. And we're doing it without BigBear, who doesn't have enough leave left from work. So it's a solo-parenting road-trip. First stop: GrannyBear's house.

There is little to note about the trip so far, consisting of 5 hours at work (with a hangover), a frenzied hour of packing (with a hangover), collecting LittleBear from holiday club (with a hangover), and driving for 2.5 hours on The Road From Hell (with a hangover)*. It wasn't my favourite day of the holiday. And I'm close to falling out with my SatNav already.

Here are my issues with my SatNav:

1. It doesn't have a "don't behave like a git" setting, and is therefore quite capable of suggesting I leave the motorway at a junction, whizz round the roundabout and rejoin straightaway, just to leap-frog a few hundred yards of stationary traffic. I am not that kind of an arse, and I don't want my SatNav turning me into one. So far I have kept enough of a beady eye upon it that I have not fallen for this particular scam.

2. It doesn't seem to have a "please don't take me down almost non-existent roads" settings. This is akin to the "don't behave like a git" setting that's missing. I don't like taking the kind of short-cut that involves zooming down single-track roads or dodging through sleepy residential areas with children playing in the streets. I know it's my job as a driver not to make stupid decisions about routes, and not to blindly follow my SatNav wherever it may take me, but it's not necessarily obvious that a road is going to degenerate into the kind that has grass down the middle, and aeroplanes skimming the hedges in front of me as I make a split-second decision about whether to turn onto it. Which is what happens along Tilehouse Lane as it passes Denham Aerodrome, as I now know.

3. There is no way, upon reaching my destination, of asking the SatNav, "where the hell have I just been?" Names flicked by on signposts, road numbers jumbled together as I turned from one to another, until I finally reached safe, recognised, known turf, at which point I was beyond tired, wallowing in bewilderment and simply wanted to know what insane route I'd just taken in an effort to avoid 10 miles of the The Road From Hell. And yet the SatNav just blinked blandly at me and told me I'd arrived at my destination. Where I've been remains a mystery.

Tomorrow, as I undertake the second leg of the journey, I hope to stick to roads that at least have a line down the middle of them.

* I feel duty-bound to point out that I have reached a rather distressing time of life where a single drink results in a hangover. I find this deeply, deeply unfair, and yet it hasn't exactly stopped me drinking entirely. Yet. One glass of wine will generally make me feel rather unwell for at least an hour the following morning. My lasted-almost-all-day hangover was the result of drinking two, not particularly strong, pints of beer the previous evening. Deeply, deeply unfair.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Post-holiday blues

Last weekend we arrived home from holiday. It had been a lovely (if damp) holiday, lasting two weeks for me and LittleBear. I went feeling angry, tired and stressed. I'd been fantasising about resigning from work, feeling desperate and over-whelmed. And a fabulous two weeks away from work changed that completely. I stopped thinking about work. I climbed rocks, I paddled in rivers, I dammed streams, I ate cake, I drank wine. I had a lovely, lovely time with friends, with family and with LittleBear.

And then we came home.

Within the first 18 hours I had done 6 loads of laundry.

The first morning I made the mistake of weighing myself and discovering the impact of a month of eating cake and drinking wine (because I started before the holiday, just to get in training).

The second night as I sat on the sofa, the walls felt like they were closing in on me. The bookcases loomed. Though our house is considerably bigger than a small, slate, former miners' cottage it felt confining, restricting and claustrophobic.

The email about (horrendously expensive) repairs to the back of the house lurked malevolently in my inbox. At some point it requires answering. And I've already deferred answering twice.

The last week of the summer holidays yelled at me, reminding me that I had organised nothing for LittleBear to do, and that we needed him to be looked after for 5 days*. BigBear has only 4 days leave left for the rest of the year. I have more than that, but I'd be taking the piss if I took any more time off right now after 2 weeks, followed by another week coming up in a few days time.

I wrote a list of Things To Do, and every Thing on my list felt like a millstone round my neck. I even ended up putting "have a conversation with BigBear" on my list. About the (horrendously expensive) repairs to the back of the house**.

I went round to a friends' house and felt envy at the elegance, and style, and calm of her home. It was light, and airy, and beautifully furnished, and clean, and tidy. Even with a young child. I came home and trod on Lego and glared at the heavy, dark, gloomy furniture that I own more by accident than design. Back in the mists of time I was left with no furniture and very little money. Ebay came to the rescue. And since there's nothing technically wrong with the furniture, and it fulfills all the requirements we have, it stays.

The cleaner came this week, and though, in truth, I am enormously grateful that I have a cleaner, not only because it means I don't have to clean, but it means I do have to tidy up at least once a fortnight. But the process of attempting to tidy up left me with a simmering resentment at all the stuff that doesn't have a home. The boxes of CDs and DVDs squatting beneath the sideboard that no longer have a shelf because we own too many books.*** The stashes of paper and card and half-completed artwork slid down beside the desk. The in-trays that are more "I don't know where else to put this" trays. The plastic boxes full of random, but apparently precious, bits of plastic tat.

So, here I am, home from holiday and restored to a state of not wanting to quit my job and live in a yurt. But I wish I was still in the Lake District, paddling in streams and scrambling up rock faces, instead of facing the tedious realities of daily life.

Mini Positive Posts seem like a distant dream at the moment, but for the good of my mental health, I might have to return them.

* We have a plan. It will probably all be fine.

** We've had a conversation. We've still not decided anything.

*** Technically there's no such thing. We merely own too few shelves.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Getting wet in the Lake District

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the weather and general topography of this country will be more than aware that going to the Lake District is an almost sure-fire way of getting rained on. You don't go to the Lakes for the sun. You go with head-to-toe waterproofs, even in mid-summer. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I ended up wet through. It might come as more of a surprise that this drenching occurred when I was inside our cottage. And that it necessitated removing my trousers and paddling across the bathroom floor.

Let me introduce you to some basics of plumbing. Generally speaking, a bath is fitted with an overflow pipe. This connects to the main drain from the bath, and ensures that, should a tap be carelessly left on, the water will pour out of the overflow and not all over the floor. I bet you think you know what happened don't you? But no! The bath was not over-filled, it did not overflow. Or not exactly. It all started innocently enough. A child was bathed. The bath was emptied. All was well. Some time later a second child was bathed. All was still well. And then the plug was pulled out, and suddenly, and unstoppably, water streamed across the floor.

A properly plumbed-in bath has the overflow connected to the drain, thus ensuring all water exiting the bath by standard methods also exits the bathroom, thusly:

Perfect plumbing, imperfectly drawn

An incorrectly plumbed-in bath, where the overflow pipe is not connected to the drain, will function under certain circumstances. If one is parsimonious with ones water consumption, one will observe no adverse effects:

Getting away with poor plumbing

If, on the other hand, one is partial to a somewhat deeper bath, the irritating habit of water finding its own level may give rise to flooding issues, to whit:

The purpose of correct plumbing is revealed

We experienced both of the latter two situations. One was more tedious than the other and required the removal of clothes and the sacrifice of Towels of Desperation to staunch the flow of a rather large proportion of a bathful of water onto the floor. On the plus side, it's a downstairs bathroom, so there was no risk of bringing a ceiling down with the flood. It's always important to look on the bright side, especially when you're on holiday and paddling round a bathroom in your underwear.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Ginger pop and jolly good fun

I'm writing this post from a location firmly entrenched in the entirely fictional world of delightful childhoods of the well-to-do in post-war rural England. It is a world without telephones, without television, without radio, without central heating, and almost entirely without the internet (we'll gloss over borrowing the neighbour's WiFi connection through a couple of feet of slate wall that only lets some of the bytes through). It is a world in which Jolly Times are had in the Great Outdoors by ruddy-cheeked children who like climbing trees and having Splendid Adventures.

It is a world in which for one brief moment I felt a glow of triumph as I managed to do something properly old-fashioned and outdoorsy and three small children actually enjoyed it.

I set a trail of arrows for said small children (my own LittleBear plus GirlTigger and BoyTigger who are 10 and 7 respectively) to follow. It led them up hill and down dale, over walls, through bogs and under trees to a small treasure cache. I suspect I had marginally more fun making and laying the arrows than the children had in finding them, as at least two arrows were trampled on without being noticed, and there were repeated bleats of, "he found the last one", or "it's not fair", not to mention some minor caviling about rain and cold and an insufficient supply of chocolate, and the occasional request to return to the cottage for more iPad-time. I don't really think they'd have enjoyed the 1950s much...

However, since the children did, relatively rapidly, work out their own method of walking in a line, taking it in turns to lead and be Chief Arrow Finder, and since the treasure was chocolate, and since both mothers had had the wit and foresight to secrete extra snacks about their person, a Good Time was Had By All. Especially by me.

A fine selection of arrows

The Tigger family has now departed for parts further south once more, and I await the arrival of BigBear and GrannyBear later tonight. LittleBear has gone to sleep planning a treasure hunt to create for GrannyBear to follow, which may or may not be just what GrannyBear wants, but I think is probably a measure of the degree to which LittleBear thought it was a Splendid Thing To Do.