LET'S GO FOR A NICE WALK

The sun is out, it's a beautiful morning, so what could be more natural than going for a walk with your family?

A nice walk. What a great idea!

Let's suppose, for a moment, you are beyond the baby and toddler stage because there simply wouldn't be enough space here to deal with the getting ready process. Yup, been there, done that: the failed attempts to leave the house, the tantrums, the sheer exhaustion of it. And that was just trying to get my husband off the sofa, where he was having a sneaky snooze.

So, back to our lovely stroll. Both children are now old enough to dress themselves (in theory at least). I say in theory because it is now half past ten and they are still in their onesies playing on the PlayStation. So, hey, kids! Let's go and get some fresh air! The silence that greets my request tells me I am being ignored, as usual, but I won't be put off, so they stomp upstairs to put some clothes on.

As the minutes tick by I ponder our current situation.

Luckily, we have countryside right on our doorsteps as we now live in the middle of nowhere, so that is a bonus. If we were in London we'd be sitting in traffic for an hour trying to go anywhere on this glorious morning, only to find there were no parking spaces when we arrived because everyone had had the same idea about getting out.

Two boys go into their bedrooms to get dressed but are replaced with a monster known as The Incredible Sulk.

"Why?" wails The Incredible Sulk. "Why do we have to go out?"

Sadly, my two horrors' only interest appears to be a trip to the cinema/ a fast food restaurant or, possibly, both.

A deal is struck. We can go to the cinema tomorrow but only if we get "fresh air" today.

"I hate fresh air!" mutters the eldest, as he pulls on his walking boots. "It stinks."

Meanwhile the youngest is having an epic battle, trying to get his foot into his boot. Has he grown that much since the last time we went for a family walk, oh, about a year ago? Suddenly I flash back to last summer, when we got chased across a field by some bulls. That was quite traumatic.

"Will there be bulls today?" says the eldest, with a worried look in his eye.

Husband is dressed and standing outside, boots on, tapping his watch. He is ready, so why isn't everyone else?

We set off down the lane and head towards the canal, with the children whingeing all the while. Well, this is lovely, isn't it? To liven things up, I bring along a birdwatching book. We usually have quite a lot of wildlife nearby but on this occasion we see a duck. One measly mallard. I treat its arrival with as much jubilation as the discovery of a dodo but to no avail.

"Can we go home yet?"/ "My legs are tired..."

And so on. So there you have it. What a nice family walk we had.