November can be such a gloomy depressing month that when we are blessed with a little bit of unexpected sunshine, I want to take advantage of it. A sunny weekend morning could have (and probably should have) been put to good use clearing up the autumn leaves that have fallen in my garden. Lovely as they are forming their patchwork blanket over the lawn, they do damage the grass and the ones that find their way into the pond create a whole load of problems from blocked filters to sludge and worse - to dead fish. However, ignoring any could'ves and should'ves, my husband and I took our two little ones to feed the ducks!
The town in which we live has a very picturesque stretch of the Shropshire Union Canal running through it.
I wrapped the baby up warm in his new fleecy jacket and bundled him into his pushchair. I am quite old fashioned in my choice of perambulation devices. Instead of opting for one of these travel systems that seem to be so popular nowadays, I chose the simplest carry cot on wheels that I could find. I have only recently converted it into the backward facing pushchair option and my baby boy is loving the new view it gives him on the world - and I love to watch him taking it all in. We walked in the direction of the canal whilst my husband cycled with the 2 year.
The two year old is crazy about bike rides with daddy. It is a really special time for both of them. We bought a Weeride Child Bike Seat which is absolutely fantastic. The positioning of it in front of you (rather than the rear mounted type which I was never very happy about) may mean that you have to pedal with you knees in a slightly ungainly open position, but it is a small sacrifice for having your child nestled between your arms where you can see them and talk to them.
We met at the canal and walked along the tow path until it got too muddy to proceed with wheels. The sun continued to shine, the baby cygnets that the 2 year old had visited regularly on her daddy bike rides had grown almost to the size of their parents and a lovely time was had by all.
Wandering along the tow path did remind me of family holidays in my old life with my first husband. Nowadays, he jets off all over the world, holidaying in exotic locations such as the Maldives, Bora Bora and Brazil with his Portuguese girlfriend, but back when he was with me, a canal boat holiday was as adventurous as it got! I am not don't blaming him for this. Money was tight, I would get incredibly stressed about going anywhere and we didn't really get on well enough to enjoy spending much time together.
Canal boat holidays suited us very well. He spent his time mostly on his own at the steering end of the boat entirely focussed on propelling along the waterway. I liked the challenge of living in a different sort of environment and me and my girls would spend most of our time at the front of the boat playing guitar, singing and making up silly games.
One of our favourite games was spotting the floating branches of trees or other bits of debris which would prompt us to point and shout 'CANALLIGATOR'. Years later and my girls still see canalligators in practically any body of water! I seriously doubt that my ex husband would see canalligators in the crystal clear blue sea of Bora Bora - I also seriously doubt that he would view that as his loss!
An imagination that invents canalligators can be a blessing but also a curse. My imagination takes me on very dark journeys sometimes. Once the thought had gripped me of the pushchair rolling into the canal, it wouldn't let go until I had seen my little boy's shocked expression as the cold water engulfed him, my frantic struggles to pull him out, my little girl's cries of confusion and fear, my bedraggled, shivering, white faced husband finally lifting the limp, blue-lipped body of my precious son from the dirty brown servant of death.
The thoughts are as vivid as they are horrific and they WILL run their course regardless of any interventions I try. Drowning babies is a common theme, as are: husband in car crash, ceiling collapsing, burning, power tool accidents and dropping/falling from a height. It's never me that is hurt, always my loved ones and I am powerless to save them.
If nothing else, my dark unwanted fantasies do make me appreciate the fragility of life and how important it is to value every moment.