It takes many years for a human being to realise that walking is actually quite pleasant. I made so much fuss on scenic family walks as a child that I'm surprised my mother still talks to me.
Once you're a parent, you soon forget this and get irked when your children plead for a lift after a few metres.
We decided to try out a Treasure Trail on the Isle of Wight as a means of tricking the children into walking. We'd had some success with a similar thing on the mainland so this seemed like it was worth a go on a grey day.
At the time of writing there are eight to choose from, covering quite a few of the prettier parts of the Island. Unsurprisingly, no one has bothered to create one exploring the industrial estates.
Our first treasure trail was covering Cowes. It was one which claimed to be OK for pushchairs, although it did say it wasn't suitable for wheelchairs. There turned out to about 30 steps but you could find a detour with a bit of initiative or a map.
This one was a Murder Mystery, with a long list of suspects. Each clue led you to a local landmark which would include enough information to eliminate one of the suspects.
We glossed over the murderous side of things for the benefit of our young children and turned it into a mobile version of Guess Who?
Over a couple of hours we wandered through Northwood Park, and along the High Street and Esplanade. I've always liked Cowes and enjoyed the whole thing a lot more than I was expecting. I noticed things about the town I'd ignored before and the level of challenge was varied enough for us all to have something to do.
Around lunchtime the one year old in our party made it quite clear that she had had enough and we postponed our investigations. Frantic searching for lunch began, despite it still being a bit early for elevenses.
However, we were hooked in by that point and a couple of hours later we were back on the beat for the last few clues.
Two days later we embarked on another treasure hunt, this time around Godshill. This one was a lot shorter and more compact but we still enjoyed it thoroughly. I've concluded the village could do with a little less traffic and a little more pavement (anyone fancy a one way system?) but once again we managed to do a significant amount of plodding considering we were a party of all ages.
From that point on there was no stopping us. Ventnor came next, despite the instructions saying that it wasn't suitable for pushchairs. Again, we found a couple of detours to avoid the steps and my buttocks got a thoroughly good workout as I heaved the pushchair up Ventnor's hilly streets. I can only assume that the residents of Ventnor all have backsides of steel.
Finally we attempted Yarmouth, which was shown off in glorious sunshine on a route which followed the estuary, seafront, castle and pier. The town centre is small and can be driven through in about seven seconds, but with clues to find and our travelling circus the whole thing filled two or three hours.
My personal favourite of them all was probably Ventnor, since it had non-stop sea views and a playground at the halfway point which provided another few minutes of entertainment. Yarmouth was in second place, but they were all good time-fillers. Our five year old managed to contribute throughout, whilst the nearly two year old demanded food and drinks from onboard her chariot.
My next plan is to contact the Treasure Trail people and suggest Carisbrooke village as a good location for a hunt. After all, it's got a significant castle, a priory, a cemetery with beautiful views (Mountjoy), an ancient church, three fords and my mother's house.
You have to pay for Treasure Trails - £6.99 at the time of writing so it's not one for our free days out guide. However, I don't think that's bad value for a couple of hours entertainment for a group of people. If you're look for a free alternative, try out our Isle Spy game, which is a similar bit of timewasting around the Isle of Wight's roads.
The Cowes Week fireworks have evaded me in recent years but I was determined that 2018 was finally going to be our year. For once, I was hopeful that house moves, newborn children or thunderstorms wouldn’t stop us.
And so, when my mother realised she couldn’t fulfil her unpaid role as chief babysitter I resorted to leaving Mrs Guru at home and taking daughter number one to her first ever fireworks display.
We found somewhere to park in Gurnard and started the pleasant walk along the esplanade towards Cowes. The sun was dropping and within a few minutes the Red Arrows were overhead, swirling and drawing love hearts in the sky.
My five-year-old companion was overwhelmed and announced that this was the ‘greatest day of her life, apart from Legoland’ (upon further questioning it turns out that the birth of her sister isn’t even in the top three).
Obviously this all sounds idyllic but I should point out that in the 200 metres we had walked so far, I had developed a blister, my thermos of warm milk had emptied itself in my rucksack and my daughter had required an emergency toilet stop in the woods.
Nonetheless, we limped on towards our fireworks viewing point on the green in Cowes.
A large crowd was gathered but it’s a big open space so it certainly didn’t feel crowded. Motorhome owners lined the streets on the esplanade, parents drank wine whilst their children threw stones in the Solent and a coffee shop did its best night of trade all year.
My daughter enquired if the fireworks would be starting any minute now, to which I replied that we had an hour and a half to fill. It turns out watching yachts gracefully sailing against a sunlit sky isn’t enough for a child so we filled the time with i-spy, choosing attractive pebbles and holding our breath in the public toilets.
There was the usual selection of carnival tat on sale, including Disney themed helium balloons and giant glow sticks.
At one point a girl who looked to be about 3 or 4 ran towards us pulling a pink helium dolphin. She did a couple of Red Arrows inspired loops of us before attempting to continue her route. Unfortunately, the dolphin lodged in my groin, her string snapped and the dolphin floated off in slow motion towards the helium graveyard in the sky. The crowd around me gasped as this mini tragedy was revealed.
I looked towards her mother who had presumably purchased the balloon in an attempt to postpone a past-your-bedtime tantrum (I mean, why else would you?). I felt the blame could go either way so I offered my most aghast expression, the sort face which you would normally expect from an emotional X-Factor contestant.
Thankfully she didn’t appear to be blaming me and we snuck off before she changed her mind.
The light faded and the fireworks began. My companion was even more excited than I that we had actually made it. She even offered a detailed commentary for others in the crowd who weren’t sure which colours were on display.
And we nearly, very nearly, got to the end of the display before she once again announced: “Daddy, I need the toilet…”
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog