The sun’s rays filter through the closed curtains and wake me up. It is still too early and I try to sleep some more. Lakshmi is fast asleep and doesn’t wake up till it is almost nine in the morning. I can’t blame her. It was quite late by the time we got back home last night after our evening shopping trip.
It is just the two of us and another scorching day today. I decide to take her to Hainault Forest, the same place we went with Amma a couple of months ago. As we walk through the forest path, Lakshmi wonders if we are going to meet Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka and Iggle Piggle, characters from the children’s TV programme ‘In the night garden’ and filmed in the woodlands. We walk along the path following the almost dried out stream with water flowing at a slow trickle in the direction of the lake. Dog walkers walk past and smile at Lakshmi as she says hello to the dogs. Nearer the lake the shade provided by the dense forest thins out and the sun’s intensity hits us in full force.
We circle the lake and find a shaded area to sit and watch the mallards, tufted ducks and geese glide past. Thinking we have food to offer the geese gather around us. Feeding the ducks is not encouraged, although people continue to do so. It is unhealthy and unhelpful as it encourages them to become lazy and beg rather than forage for their food. We sit and watch them as they tentatively observe us. Lakshmi notices their orange beaks and wonders who the mummy and daddy ducks are. Around us I see ripe wild berries but do not attempt to try it out and I am glad I didn’t as later at the same spot I see a wood mouse scurrying past. We take our time to sit and enjoy the cool breeze and the peaceful setting before we continue our walk.
Further along the path a lady stops to feed the Canada Geese. They rush towards her and she gets frightened. She shows them the empty plastic bread bag and they stop harassing her. By noon we find a shaded area under a tree next to the open fields and settle down for our afternoon picnic. Children are running around playing games. A couple of children are flying their kites with their parent’s help. It reminds me of the one and only time I attempted to fly a kite. Something which looks very easy but try as I might that day I couldn’t get my kite off the ground.
Lakshmi runs around amusing herself and clambers up over me pretending I am some sort of climbing platform. In between we treat ourselves to some ice cream and a nice cup of tea. She is not bored at all and we spend quite a bit of time just lazing around.
Next a stroll around the animal farm watching the sheep, Shetland ponies, horses, llamas, pigs, hens, turkeys and peacocks later it is time to make our way back to the car park. In between we sit on the benches dotted around the lake twice as Lakshmi refuses to leave saying that it was ‘sitting time’. A pug barks continuously while his owner struggles to contain him as they pass another dog. The owner apologises saying that it is a rescue dog and she is trying hard to train him. “Naughty dog” Lakshmi whispers as the dog passes us.
It is almost six by the time we finally head home. We still need to cross the forest area to get back to the car park. For the last ten minutes of our walk, there is not a soul in sight. I start to get a bit worried. Lakshmi is making me carry her and I can’t walk as fast as I would like to. It is not long before we get back to the car. “Lakshmi is too little to drive the car”, she says as she settles into her seat and we make our way home.