We went to a New Year's Eve party last night. Music, food and quizzes. Sparkly wine, laughter and wii games. Bedtime ended up being 0130 Jan 1. There was also a plan hatched. A plan that involved an 11.30 start, walking boots and a warm coat.
Not having actually imbibed anything other than a celebratory glass the night before I was up and starting my 2010 by 8a.m. Then I remembered I had gone to bed at a ridiculous hour so I went back and had another couple of hours sleep. Waking up at 10:30 saw me racing to get organised to meet the 11a.m. leaving deadline. Got downstairs to find CK had cooked breakfast for both childer and even gone so far as to soak the pan.
destructoBoy was in charge of wellies, mine to go into the boot and his on his feet as our hosts' daughter had thrown up on his trainers the previous evening. By 1107 he and I were in Maria with the black dogs and en route to the meeting point. 1130 and with the dogs rearing to head off it became obvious that 'someone' had very carefully left my wellies by the front door, safe from the mud and ice we would encounter over the Downs.
Over the next three and a half hours we walked with 18 friends and five dogs up hills, by icy puddles which oozed squelchy mud as the teenage boys dared each other to step on them. To the envy of all the grown men my boy had brought binouclars and at one point we watched four deer graze and one hare dash across the field. There was a tight hand on the collar of the lurcher in our mob.
We walked up and down hills and along droving tracks under a bright blue, cloudless sky. The dips and bumps on these chalk tracks had massive sheets of ice across them, in places the ice was an half an inch thick. While the grown-ups edged past it clinging to the fenceline, ALL of the children waded through each and every single ice flow. More than one teenage boy completed the hike with icy toes and sodden socks!
After a mile and a half of walking on the flat through fields ploughed over for the Winter we headed up hill for the final 500 yards. The afternoon ended with all of the children (and one of the dads!) racing up the side of a mahoosively tall and steep hill. destructoBoy and I returned home tired, muddy and a little hungry (we hadn't realised the walk would go over lunch and so only packed trail mix and water). The dogs were muddy and exhausted. The sky was clear, the air still, we walked far and well in good company.
It was an afternoon I shall treasure long in my memory.