Delamere Forest or Delamere Forest Park is a large wood near the town of Frodsham in Cheshire, England. The woodland covers an area of 972 hectares making it the largest area of woodland in the county.
The Bike Hire
Tina, the nippers, and myself went along for a brisk [read: freezing] winter stroll while we were in that part of the county for some family celebrations. The boy got himself a rental bicycle and due to the cold weather made a strong argument for himself appearing in the dictionary where it says “instant regret”.
The biting cold wind nipping at his cheeks and fingers more fiercely as the hill inclines steepened gave him early onset ‘teenager face’ which is defined by the overwhelming urge to not make eye-contact or to sit and play on his phone. I find this amusing as it reminds me so much of myself. Not when I was 10 though; more of when I was at home. Earlier in the day.
The girl on the other hand is being remarkably well-behaved on her little balance bike. Still not balancing on it… or steering for that matter; but the walking with it between her legs and front wheel-lift-shimmy-shift-drop to adjust course is cute all the same. She deals with the hills and undulations with the grace of a drunk boxer, but so far so good; she’s still upright and more importantly: clean.
Pace slows to a crawl as we approach a very thin-ice frozen stream, just down off the beaten track and through the foliage. Boy bounds through, glad to be off the rental that he’s sure has turned his blood to Blue Slush Puppy. Holding the girl’s hand, we push on through the thistles and bracken to the clearing of the stream; eagerly searching for something to chuck in to test the ice’s integrity. Nothing but half rotten twigs and leaves, darn. Oh well, I should probably turn round and start making my way back to a frozen looking Tina.
The regret portion of the story was redefined once again when while my back was turned, the boy decided that it’d be an exemplary idea to test the unproven integrity by pushing his foot through the ice in Fabric trainers (so named for brand and material the upper is made from); now his face and hands are of little concern. Again reminded of myself for it being something I’d have liked to do.
Girl is back on her balance bike, Boy braves his rental once more. Up until this point it’s either been level or downhill. Alas; our first hill to climb. Boy musters his all and charges off the final 15m of downhill for the volcanicity needed to crest the mountainous peak ahead. I ready my camera for his inevitable celebration at the top.
The girl makes it just as far on her bike, not to be out-done by her big brother of course, but then quits just as spectacularly. By dumping her bike next to the rental and climbing the nearby tree stump.
At least there was no fall at the end of her climbing back down. Still managed to stay TOTALLY clean, despite this being where mud actually comes from.
Finally at the top and there’s an area the park rangers have felled a good portion of the trees while leaving all the straight branches for constructing A-Frames, wigwams, and other potentially character-building safety hazards. How quaint. Girl heads the charge into unquantifiable danger with the hop-skip of an excited child with no concept of risk… or of the wait times in A&E. Building commences but not for long as the logs are cold and heavy. It feels a lot like work and this is recreation, dammit!
The Long Way Back
The cold now has well penetrated all two of my ill-advised layers and the boy is holding his one cold foot and looking increasingly uncomfortable with it. Decision made: turn back for the car.
Girl has other ideas. She’s TIRED and the whole 972 hectares need to know about it! The slow trudge with a miserable toddler begins. My resolve is fierce – there’s no way on this planet I’m going to pick her up and put her on my shoulders. She needs to learn, right? Right. Decided. I’m the bad guy. Yeh! I can do this.
“Come along! Stop crying, we’ll be back at the car very soon, wipe your eyes and keep going!” I demand.
“…no way on this planet I’m going to pick her up and put her on my shoulders.”
So she’s up on my shoulders; now my only worry is that I’m getting muddy off of her boots as they make contact with my chest with every step I take.
Finally, the car is in sight and the boy has never been so happy to see the “bike returns” sign; the toddler blazes a trail to her car door. Mean while I’m blessing whoever came up with the idea of heated seats. Last car in the car park too.
Totally the most hardcore of outdoorsy people. Or whatever we like to call ourselves.