My friends likened it to a fairy tale. The children and their grandmother sitting on a tree stump in the woods. They pondered whether Hansel and Gretel were on a day out in the forest, but this time under the watchful eye of their grandma or whether it was one of Mowgli’s adventures. Lakshmi and Lavinia had just finished their gingerbread biscuits but luckily there was no wicked witches or Shere Khans lurking in the shadows to snatch them.
Once again we are on the Gruffalo trail in Thorndon Country Park. This time the little ones know the story well. I would have liked to say that Lakshmi whizzed around the forest on her trike but her feet are not strong enough to turn the pedals yet and she needed a lot of help from her mother. We stopped by the mouse carving, one of the characters, from Julia Donaldson’s popular children’s book. Kavitha played frisbee with Lakshmi as Lavinia and I watched from the comfort of our tree trunk.
Lakshmi doesn’t like creepy crawlies or big beasts. She surveyed the Gruffalo from afar, refusing to go anywhere near it. Lavinia on the other hand was quite happy to pose for photos from the Gruffalo’s feet, stand next to the Gruffalo child, wave to the Owl on the treetop, pat the green snake, do high fives with the red fox and tussle with the mouse for his acorn. She chortled as she was given a chance to ride the tricycle. She loves the outdoors and enjoyed every second of the trip.
The ash tinted sky with looming clouds and light drizzle gave way to a mild spring afternoon as we made our way through the woods. The brief Indian summer from the week before was long gone and the temperature was more in line with the seasonal average. We ended the evening with a hot cup of tea and chocolate in the park’s cafe. Lakshmi is into jigsaw puzzles and we bought her some new ones. I read somewhere that instead of teaching children the three Rs they should learn to solve puzzles at this age. It will help them in the long run to solve problems as they grow up, a vital survival tool in this tough world. It was time to return the tricycle and head back home. The children were fast asleep by the time we reached home deep in their dreamworlds. Were they walking through the woods with the mouse in tow looking for the scariest monster in the deep dark woods, I wondered.