Remember poor Anna in Frozen, who turns to ice as the result of her selfless ‘act of true love’?
For a few hours yesterday afternoon, I knew exactly how she felt.
Our unofficial family new year’s resolution was to go for more walks.
I’ve never been a huge fan of just walking (sorry if that sounds a bit teenager-ish) but I have to admit there’s something quite pleasant about walking by water.
I’ve enjoyed many an amble [yes, apparently there’s something about walking that makes me sound like my grandmother] by the Thames: around Oxford, Abingdon, Wallingford and, of course, lovely Henley-on-Thames. My favourite jaunts involve warm summer days (no wasps, though) and plenty of pit-stops in pub gardens, so it takes a lot to get me out on a freezing February afternoon with not so much as a mulled wine vendor in sight.
But I try to keep my promises, so yesterday saw me brave the polar conditions for a walk around the very beautiful Virginia Water Lake in Windsor Great Park.
I would like to say it was a brisk walk that boosted our cardiovascular health and left us pink-cheeked and warm on the inside. In reality, our speed was limited by that great sporting handicap: The Learner Scooter.
(Or should that be learner scooterer? I’m never sure.)
I generally (optimistically, perhaps) think of myself as a fairly patient parent, but this learning-to-ride-a-scooter phase has pushed me to my limits. And beyond them. Why some children take to scooting like ducks to water while others wobble around, shrieking and yet never getting above tortoise sleep-walking pace is a mystery. And it’s not even a proper mode of transport, unless you’re Hugh Jackman.
It’s easy to be tolerant (proud, even) when your child is wobbling and shrieking on a bicycle because it’s a bicycle! Cycling is a real thing that real people do. Some fully grown people even do it to get to work or – rather more incredibly – for fun. It’s an actual sport.
But all this wobbling and shrieking and going so slowly I could drink six of those flimsy paper cups of mulled wine in the time it takes to get from one lamppost to the next… all this for something that no one does past the age of seven (please tell me it doesn’t go on any longer than that, for those of us not in la famille Jackman) is just infuriating. It’s not a life skill, like learning to walk or play tennis. It’s just scooting. (Scootering?)
Actually, it’s not even that. Not in our family. Because the dictionary defines ‘scoot’ as follows:
1. go or leave somewhere quickly.
“they scooted off on their bikes”
synonyms: dash, dart, run, sprint, race, rush, hurry, hasten, hare, hurtle, bolt, shoot, charge, career, speed, fly, whizz, zoom… [you get the idea]
And I can say with absolute certainty that there was no hurtling, whizzing or zooming going on around Virginia Water Lake yesterday, other than the millions of wet, muddy dogs haring past us, and making our poor Learner Scooterer wobble even more in their tailwind.
And the slower we went, the more I felt like poor selfless Anna of Arendelle, rapidly freezing to death in pursuit of true love and family togetherness. (It definitely was not as sunny as it looks in this next photo.)
Fortunately – given that we didn’t spot Queen Elsa with her handy ability to bring back summer – we did manage to stagger on benumbed legs back to the Pavilion for some thawing hot chocolate before the hypothermia fully set in.
A complete circuit of the lake is 4.5 miles or 7km, so that might have to be one for the summer months. But if you’re sans slow scooterer, it’s probably a good option even on a chilly day.
There are, I’m told, lots of other things to see in the area, including Roman ruins (not actually a genuine Roman relic, although they do apparently include some of the remnants of a real Roman town), a 100ft totem pole (given to the Queen by the people of Canada – well, what do you give the lady who has everything?), and the beautiful Cascade waterfall.
We had a great afternoon at Virginia Water (easy to say now I’m inside in the warm!) and I’d definitely recommend the paths around the lake for any other learner scooterers who aren’t quite ready to brave the pavements, as they’re lovely and smooth.
Parking was pricey, but you can get an annual car park pass, and the hot chocolate in the Pavilion was extremely good (yesterday, I would have said life-saving).
Find out more about the lake at Virginia Water or, for those who favour public house pit-stops, have a look at the Visit Thames website and its top five ‘Water Walks and Winter Warmers‘ (pubs along the way!).