I live in the metaphorical big toe of the village/town. (I say it's a village, people who were born here say it's a TOWN). I am as far as you can be from where anything else is. My walk to school/playgroup/ a corner shop with something in it takes 40 minutes (what IS IT with the only "handy shop" by me? 2 copies of the Daily Mail and some year old packets of oregano is NOT A SHOP). And that is with one kid on a bike and another yardarmed into a buggy. Without those handy wheels, it's an hour.
And so I have been pondering the value (or hell) of the walk to school/playgroup.
I like it. In fact, I love it. Not only are my kids not going to turn into those little fattie kids that get out of the cars being driven up to the schoolgate by HUMAN DUVETS WITH EYES (Yep, that's what some of 'em look like), but I actively enjoy the walk. It is more than a walk. It is a period in the day that is, once we are out of the doors, (and we get there with much ravening and shouting) is a pause of quiet, of conversation, of wondering. We know the seasons. We spot the insects, the individual snail, the errant poppy. We know when each tree is budding, dropping, or letting growing something we can half-inch and eat. We spot the same people every day, the postman (or lady, and she is a lady), the lorry drivers, the tractor driver (we are rural), the same Suzuki GSX and Yamaha RX, at the same time every day. It gives us a sense of motion, of belonging, of, for the kids, security. This will happen, this is where I am , I know where I live.
More than that, it's when we chat. We discuss why red and black ants don't get along, why we don't have rings like Saturn, why a GSX is better (or not) than an RX. It's when thinsg pop up, who said what, why he/she is worrying, why do we do this not this? And it gives me leave to answer while we get to the wall that both children MUST walk on. It is on the walk to school that a "Mum, here is a flower for you" can happen. Or a sudden stop while they both look at an aeroplane, and I marvel at them.
On the walk, we discuss the hideous deaths that can await the unwary child on a ROAD. We stop,look, listen and then DO IT AGAIN because this is Fenland, and people drive crazy. Son has learnt to bike, daughter to scoot. They have both perfected the walk-semi-run that was the mark of my childhood with my nan, an epic fast walker. (My other half remarks that I am the fastest walker known to man). We overtake slow people.
Of course, the way back home when they're both knackered, is utterly, utterly, shit and 70 minutes of screaming, yelling nightmare that is onyl alleviated by the administration of flapjacks every 50 yards.