Sunday, 23 August 2015

Life lessons from an 8 year old.

In the past I've banged on about slowing down and appreciating life and hiking.  Take the time to love Cumbria I said.  Find the time to stand and stare I said.  Well today I well and truly met my match, and it came in the form of my 8 year old, 3 foot high nephew.

I was charged with looking after him for the morning and, as I was at the in-laws in Bucks, decided to take him a favourite local walk known as "the golf club walk" (on account of the fact it crosses a golf course twice.)  This walk normally takes around 30 minutes.  40 if you're dawdling.  Today it took me an hour and three quarters.

Admittedly I had given him an old pair of binoculars to "spot wildlife" along the way - and boy did he seize that remit with vim and with vigour.  We spotted grasshoppers, doves, buzzards, bees, flies, dragonflies, butterflies, aeroplanes, wasps, beetles, apples, cherries, more aeroplanes, a number of very patient golfers and an enormous pile of horse pooh.

The conversation along the way revolved around what, why, where, why, how, why, when and why.  The topics covered included, but by no means were limited to, dinosaurs, the Bugatti Veyron, assorted computer games, space, time, Egyptians, black holes, relativity and the reasons I wasn't going to allow him to a) balance on a fallen down tree across a stagnant pond and b) why I thought it was a bad idea to take home 2 corn on the cobs left in a bonfire for him to wash and eat later.  I did let him eat blackberries from the bushes we passed though.

By the end of the near 2 hour very gentle hike I was exhausted.  He claimed to be too, but I didn't believe him as he bounced back along the driveway to the house.

I left after lunch to make it to a campsite near Chichester where I'm based for the week while I work for a local law firm.  As I took a stroll around the nearby harbour I thought back to my morning hike and pondered how sad it was that we lose the inquisitiveness of children - racing through hikes and life in general at a break neck pace.

The headlines at the moment are dominated by the awful news of the air crash near Shoreham, just a few short miles along the coast from where I'm camped.  None of us know when our time is up so maybe slowing down a little to appreciate the little things - sun on your face, wind in your hair, grasshoppers, birds and enormous piles of horse pooh - isn't such a bad way to live afterall.

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