The Gruffalo Trail

“The weather forecast for the weekend looks pretty grim. What do you do with your children on a weekend like this?” I ask Tiffany, our theatre sister. For someone so young, she has a very wise head. “I think we adults complicate things” she tells me, “children are simple beings, sometimes less is more”. She tells me about her European trip rushing from Venice to Verona to Florence. Her son apparently said that the best part was the day that they didn’t do any travelling and stayed in the hotel.

Keeping children amused is hard work. Now that we are two thirds our way through the year, it won’t be long before summer is a distant memory. We need to make the most of it. Kavitha and I took Lakshmi and Lavinia on the Gruffalo trail a week ago. Set in Thorndon Country park, the trail takes us on the same route the mouse took in the popular children’s story book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

As the mouse walks through the forest he stumbles upon a snake, an owl and a fox, all quite keen to have him for dinner. To stay alive he cooks up a story of his fictional friend, ‘the Gruffalo’, a half grizzly bear and half buffalo’. He manages to scare them off but then encounters the Gruffalo himself, who now quite fancies the mouse for dinner himself. The quick witted mouse tells the Gruffalo that he is the scariest animal in the woods and that the other animals are frightened of him. He takes the Gruffalo for a walk in the woods and as the snake, the owl and the fox see him approaching them with the Gruffalo, they all run away. The Gruffalo starts to get worried and runs away himself.

The hand crafted carvings of the Gruffalo, the mouse and the rest of the characters are scattered around the forest. The map bought from the visitor’s centre helps us find them as we follow the trail. Lakshmi is too little, as she keeps pointing out frequently, to quite grasp the storyline. But she enjoys spotting the characters both on the trail and the map, although she point blank refused to walk that day making me carry her most of the way. It was a tiring day but well worth the effort. We will do it again next year when she is a bit more bigger to enjoy the walk.

By the way the weather forecast is actually quite good this weekend. I was looking at the wrong information. Maybe we will find something we both will enjoy this weekend.

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