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Families and young children

We have had a weekend of delightful family visits, us to them in different parts of London.

Saturday we met with Adrian and Lucy who celebrate their return from a recent adventure sailing around Britain in their 30 foot sailing boat, Moondance. Here is a link to their website. We take much inspiration from this with our own plans for 2009 being much the same. Setting off from the West Country they passed along the west coast of Ireland then Scotland, rounded Cape Wrath before coming south to the Caledonian Canal. For some reason that I still can’t quite make sense of they passed through the canal twice so that they could come south down the east coast of Scotland, then England, to meet their own friends who live somewhere on the Essex coast. Finally they navigated to Southampton where Adrian’s brother, himself a part owner of Moondance, lives. Although slightly less ambitious than this, our own plans for next year will take us through much of the same water so we were keen to hear of their experiences.

We met the pair in Islington, close to where they had been staying with family, with whom we spent a delightful afternoon chatting over a pub lunch. Stealing the show, of course, was Ava who at the age of 8 months totally captivated us all as she was passed around the table. We all had a turn at amusing this wriggling bundle of baby who calmly accepted our attention with complete insouciance. It was an honour to earn the trust of both Ava and her parents to be allowed to do this; for us it was an experience to be treasured.

Then on Sunday we met with more friends, another family about to depart on their own adventure. Adrian (another one) and Jill are emigrating to New Zealand with their young children and as I write this will be taking off from Heathrow. Adrian is a work colleague but we had not previously met his wife or any of his three children so once again we found ourselves spending time with smaller people. To gain the trust of strangers, particularly children, can take time and patience. It needs to find its own speed and cannot be hurried along but once again we were delighted to be taken into the confidence of this young family. Of course it was Dan, at 3 years old, who was particular captivating as he first exhausted himself trying to keep pace with his older sisters then recovered his energy again during the day.

We had travelled across London to Kew Gardens to see our friends, arriving in a torrential downpour which soon cleared to give us glimpses of sunshine for the rest of the day. It was a cold day which started with a layer of snow on Cirrus’ decks so we left ourselves open and vulnerable by planning a day outside in these conditions. In hindsight I suppose it could easily have been a disaster if we had been caught in a heavy downpour but somehow we managed to keep everyone happy and arrived at the warmth of Kew’s hothouse just before hypothermia might have started to be a possibility. Adrian’s three delightful children hardly know what lies ahead as they leave Britain to take up a new life on the opposite side of the earth. We treated them in the Kew Gardens shop so that Ellie, aged about 7, could examine the ground through her plastic binoculars looking at where New Zealand would be if the earth wasn’t in the way. Finally we all refreshed ourselves in the ‘Greenhouse’, a cafe serving mountainous cake slices with tea or fruit juice and located en route to the underground station. Dan, as 3 year-olds are wont to do, liberally covered himself with cream from his cake but we knew from bringing up our own children that this would soon be absorbed into his body by some kind of osmosis and give him just enough energy to keep going for the rest of the day. It was late when we left them alone for their journey back to the hotel where they would spend their last night in this country.

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