One of the silver linings of the grim and worrying time of the last few months has been the discovery that my children don't mind woodland walks. I assumed they'd complain endlessly like I did as a child whenever I wasn't staring at a screen or kicking a ball but they just plod along in wellies and only start to whine when they get tired or hungry.
On previous wet days we would have headed for the clinkety-clankety arcade machines in Shanklin or the glorious comfort and extortionately priced popcorn of the cinema but we're now one of those irritating families who puts on raincoats and look like they're enjoying themselves outdoors.
With this newfound enthusiasm we headed for Parkhurst Forest on a wet day in search of red squirrels.
After an argument about whether a summer dress was appropriate clothing for a walk in the rain we headed left out of the main car park as you face the forest (just off Forest Road) and discovered a board with a suggestion of where to walk.
Like the mindless lemmings that we are, we followed the map through a wiggly bit of forest before emerging at a larger track.
Well, that's not quite true. The first time we tried to follow the map we took a left turn down a small track which wasn't the right one at all. The left turn you want is actually by a bench, so keep an eye out for that if you attempt to follow the same route.
After about 20 minutes of walking we arrived at the red squirrel hide. I reckon you could have done it in half that time if you didn't take a wrong turn like we did and if you walked at a good pace. We wandered along at a slow pace partly due to the children having small legs and partly because there were people in front of us and we were trying to keep our distance.
We had the hide to ourselves, so we sat and waited...
So did we spot a family of red squirrels feasting on nuts mere metres from our enraptured faces? Did we see them playing gleefully in the forest as shards of light shone through the canopies above?
No, of course we didn't. The youngest child lost interest after 30 seconds and started walking off so we gave up and went back to the car.
But did we fill an hour on a wet day without resorting to another hour of telly? Yes, we did and I'm sure we'll come back again for the same reason on another day.
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