Friday, 16 December 2011

Pitstone Redundant Church to Ivinghoe Church in the snow

In which I adhere to the phrase 'there's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes', wrap the Chap in fifteen layers of clothing, and enjoy the winter wonderland.

Ordnance Survey: Explorer 182
Distance: 1 miles approx

Time: 30mins

Rating: Easy-Moderate Walk (would be easy if there was no snow!)

True to the weather forecast, we woke up this morning to a festive dusting of snow. This is something about the British - we get really excited by weather. The sort of snow that the Canadians - or even the Germans, or other central-European types - would laugh at, the British work ourselves up into apoplexy over. This is probably because whatever weather we get, it will usually only last a maximum of a week before it'll all change again.

Today's short stroll (it was cold, after all) started at Pitstone Redundant Church. After admiring it being all snowy, you retreat down Church Road until you can turn left onto Vicarage Road. Maybe 50 metres down this road you will see a sign pointing through a hedge declaring that Ivinghoe is 3/4 of a mile away. Cross the road and follow the sign through the metal kissing gate and across the fields.

A festive post box

I want to talk to you about something. Something serious. Something that is currently on the minds of many parents across the country (or, at least,the ones I've been speaking to). Should you have it in the house? Is it better to introduce these things gently to your children at home, responsibly? If you don't have it at home, will your child run amok when they discover them outside your house? Or should you conclude - to directly quote from a Facebook comment - that  "If you hide these things, they only go and do it somewhere else!".

Of course, I'm talking about that most contentious of issues for the parents of toddlers and cruising babies - the Christmas tree.

Our Christmas tree for 2011.

It being that time of year, our minds have turned to decorations, and indeed, have promoted something of a Great Christmas Tree Debate. If you have very small children, do you have a Christmas tree or not? We have opted for the 'not' this year. We have a tree, but it's a little fake one and roosting safely on a bookshelf, away from grasping little fingers. the ChapDad observed, we have a tideline of Christmas - we have decorations, but they're all above the height to which one small, cruising child can reach.

However, mention a Christmas tree to parents of toddlers and pre-toddlers, and suddenly the conversation turns as if we're discussing drugs or alcohol. And we're all wildly justifying our choices, again as if the issue was more serious than just a tree. I assert the Chap is only just beginning to grasp the concept of 'No', and I don't want to spend all day every day directing him away from the electric-lighted, glass baubled spiky thing. Others declare this sort of behaviour unnecessarily fussy (and why, they may do so. If they also want to come round my house and spend their days directing my son away from the tree, then why, they may do that also and I shall get on with the stuff I need to be doing). Another friend gave me a long and heartfelt explanation of how they decided to have a tree because the rest of their house was so well child-proofed that they thought a small period of intoning "NO touch!" as their child heads for the baubles would be good for their child to realise some things are out of bounds.

The Chap peers at the snow

But the conversation is so contentious, so liable to prompt debate and counter debate (particularly on social media), and earnest reasoning behind the choices that have been made, it suggests to me that while on the surface we're talking about trees, underneath we're talking about something else. What is the conversation we're all really having here? Is it discipline? Is it about giving your child boundaries? Is it about child safety? ChapDad found an interesting article earlier this week in the Washington Post about parenting choices :

"Have you buckled a child into any kiddie gear lately? Here’s what you see when you do: WARNING: DEATH or SERIOUS INJURY CAN OCCUR.

Thanks! I hadn’t fully appreciated human mortality until I became the whole world to this helpless creature I love to an aching degree, and now vivid images of his death fill my mind every time I dutifully employ the safety equipment that now constitutes the baseline obligation for responsible parents but that didn’t even exist in my parents’ day!

Fulfillment is impossible unless people filter these worst-case scenarios from daily life, and most parents do override the sense that harm to children is epidemic.

I can haz camera?

But that takes willpower when California’s missing child makes headlines in Rhode Island, and when your gentle days with your newborn are punctuated by dozens of encounters with


(Read the full article here.).

I don't really know what conversation we're all having. It seems a mixture to me- something about child safety and some sort of judgement about how helicoptery your parenting is. It's just no-one is saying anything overt. We're just all sitting about giving long and impassioned speeches explaining our Christmas tree choices. I hope to God no-one opens the star/angel/fairy can of worms - we'll here all night.

Pitstone Windmill


Ivinghoe High Street
The gate
Really, when everything gets snowed on it all looks fresh and clean and exciting and festive. As I reached the end of the field and was about to enter Ivinghoe, I was so excited I even took a picture of the gate.

 Go up Green Lane until you come to the High Street. Turn right, and in a little over a hundred metres or so you will be at the end of the walk at Ivinghoe Church. It is still covered in scaffolding, and not even the snow can make that pretty. Hey ho.

Things I learnt

  • Wearing big woolly slipper socks inside your wellies is a top plan.
  • The weather hood on the Ergo baby carrier is a really good idea. It did get a bit wet in the snow, but it dried out pretty quickly.
  • I now feel super-festive!

1 comment:

  1. Such a good read-- I like both thinking and walking and will try to do more of both. Lucinda W