Monday, 7 May 2012

College Lake with a Back Carry

In which I do my first walk with the Chap on my back, find a different path to take around College Lake and continue to assuage my nursery-guilt with knitting.

Map: None Used (routes are available at College Lake if you're desperate, but it's very much a case of following signs!)
Distance: 4k

Time: 1 hour

Rating: Easy Walk

This walk was a first for me, because it was the first time I did a walk with the Chap on my back. It's been coming on for a while - I got to the end of Willen Lake and thought "oof, my back", so I've been working up to doing extended walks with the Chap on my back, and this was the first 'proper' walk I've done with him there. It takes a bit of practise to get them up there - I have found it easiest to 'Santa Toss' him over my head rather than scooting him round my side, as he's just got too tall to fit comfortably under my arm. However, I can get him up there without incident now, so long as he isn't wearing anything big like a coat that tend s to get rucked in the back and make the back of the Ergo sit a bit low, but I now know what that feels like, so it can be dealt with.

However, I still wanted to build my confidence, so I went for College Lake. It's an easy walk, it's not a long way or difficult terrain, and it has a visitor centre so nappies and so on can be dealt with.

We started as we start most walks these days - with the two of us walking. We use the reins for this a lot as the Chap can accelerate in an impressive manner - fine of you're in a flat park, but not so good if you're in an area filled with rabbit holes or on a train station or similar.

On leaving the Visitor Centre, turn left and follow the path round. It starts on gravel and then quickly becomes a packed earth path, and the Chap seemed quite happy to toddle along that rather than dashing off into the undergrowth, so I let him off his reins to tootle about in that purposeful manner that toddlers have.

Soon enough, however, he stopped and asked to be carried, so I threw him over my shoulder and into the back carry and we continued forward.

The line of trees soon breaks and you start to get views over the lake. The path splits shortly after this - the orange trail continues on the flat path suitable for prams, but we chose the purple trail bearing right and down a slope. This leads down into a tree-lined dell, and then up again to a narrow path. It's a quieter path and easier if you're wanting to see some birds or other wildlife than the main orange trail.

Also a week of firsts, I have finished my first cardigan for the Chap! I am amazed that it not only looks like a cardigan, but it also appears to be wearable! I put it on him this morning (before I had sewed in all the loose threads) and was also delighted to see that, although a bit big at the moment, it will fit him and appear to be in proportion when he gets big enough for it. I am amazed it actually looks like it's supposed to! It took weeks, however, but I'm really pleased with it. And at least it gave me something to work on while we worked our way through the Lord of The Rings extended box set.

I find knitting terribly comforting. When my sister-in-law asked why I had started knitting, the answer was simple - guilt. I hate putting him in nursery, but I find knitting helps me ignore it.

"Ah-ha," she said, in that knowing way that people with psychology degrees have. "So it's a case of 'I'm leaving you, but I've got you this."". I've thought about it, really, and that's not quite right. It's not about leaving him so I got him something. There's a world of plastic dinosaurs and cars that could fulfil that function. It's something about the effort, the activity. It's not really about the fact you get a cardigan at the end of it, although that is in itself satisfying (and surprising!). It's more about the activity; the performance aspect. If I think about it, even though I enjoy being at work (which is something I never thought I'd say, but that's what having a year's maternity leave lead me to conclude), I still feel that by going to work I am doing something unutterably selfish. It doesn't matter that we can't afford for me not to work - I think it's a case of the Terrible Shoulds. I feel I should be at home looking after him, and therefore any other choice is Doing It Wrong.

You will shortly reconnect with the main trail, and we continued along this until we saw the gate leading off to the left through the fence, marked with a 'permissive footpath' white arrow. As this was somewhere I hadn't been before, I decided to go and have a look and see where it took us.

I really enjoyed this part of the route. It feels a lot quieter than the main path, and takes you along the edge of the nature reserve through the trees. It was also completely deserted apart from a photography crew who were taking promotional pictures for the reserve, who grinned as I went past with my load.


In wearing the Chap as I go for walks, I manage to do what I want at the same time as feeling like I'm ticking the 'Proper Parenting' box. It was the same when we went and enjoyed the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum the other day - I enjoyed the dinosaurs before I had a child, but now I'm not just indulging myself. I'm Being A Parent. In knitting, I perform the role of being his mummy, even if what I'm doing is just sitting on the sofa drinking beer and shouting "Oi love 'ee, Mr Frodo!" at various opportune moments at the TV. Now, obviously this doesn't mean I'm not his mother when I'm doing this, but it seems to me that again, this is a self-indulgent act when what I should be doing is watching him sleep and composing odes to his restful slumber or similar. Left brain knows this is tosh. My left brain understands that one can still be someone's mother as you cry "You were robbed of that Oscar, Mr Serkis, robbed, I say!". So, knitting is a salve to the incoherent babbling of my right brain - I am performing the act of being a mother, therefore it's fine. It doesn't matter that I am knitting because I enjoy it, or I like the challenge - if that wasn't the case, I wouldn't do it. I enjoy it, but it also helps on the occasions when he comes home from nursery knackered, goes straight to bed and I hardly see him. It's either knitting or watching little videos we've made of him and crying. I know which option is provides a more conducive household environment...

The path then leads you back onto the main route, giving you good views over the lake. We continued forward, and then took the first right hand turn. This area is definitely not suitable for prams - there are steps and gates and narrow pathways and it would all be very awkward. I like this route, however, because there have some interesting things to look at along this way. This way has information about the history of College Lake, starting with old machinery left over from the days when it was a chalk quarry and going all the way back to the dinosaurs.

We then took the path leading up and off to the left back to the main route. I also wanted to have a look around the second hand book shop that lurks about the Visitor's Centre - I am indeed one of those people who can never resist the lure of a bookshop. I have a particular fondness for women's advice manuals from pre-1960s. None exist in this bookshop, but I did pick up a nice children's book about an elephant who is pen-friends with a penguin.

Children's books acquired, we then continued back to the Visitor's Centre, then home.

Things I Learnt

  • After I changed to the 'santa toss' method of getting the Chap on my back, all my back-carrying problems have been solved!
  • I can knit, it seems. My next plan is for something a bit more proper than a beginner's pattern... something that involves a tension square to start off with...
  • You can get a number of quite varied walks out of College Lake. When I first went, I was pretty sure it was a straight march around a circuit job, but I am glad to find that there's a good amount of choice. It's also good for building up confidence if you're not used to baby wearing for walking.

1 comment:

  1. I spawned a knitist!
    Given my multitude of thumbs, I don't know how that happened, but I am deeply impressed.