So, as my daughter fast approaches the tender age of sixteen, I take stock and consider for a moment that sooner rather than later, she will no longer wish to go out with her ageing father on adventures or days out to the country.
With that in mind, I decide that the time was right to embark on a day out exploring the countryside, only I wanted to have one if not both of her closest friends, whom I also consider my surrogate children having looked after them periodically since they were six or seven years of age.
To my astonishment, my daughter agrees and despite only one of her friends being available we set off for the hills on what had to be one of the hottest days of the year so far.
It was truly inspiring to see these two children – young ladies – all grown up now. Whilst they trekked ahead I could only watch with, it must be said, more than a shard of sadness as I recalled that not too long ago, I was holding both of them one in each arm. I can’t even manage to lift one of them now! Where have the last eleven years gone?
So, whilst I reminisced of days gone by and tiny little girls blissfully unaware that one day in the not too distant future, an emotional father would be hiking with them in the hills, a tear was shed in my private thoughts, for this was probably the last time I would be able to enjoy their company alone.
It was a magnificent day, three and a half hours walking followed by a small picnic to take in the scenery and soak up the heat of the summer sun before packing up and setting off home. I doubt the girls are any the wiser nor the significance of the day and what it meant to this 50 year old dad, but that can only be a good thing. They spent the day laughing in between huffing and puffing as we walked up and down hillsides, avoiding cattle and battling our way through overgrown woods.
A bitter sweet day but one I will remember for a long time and one I hope, they will one day also look back with fondness…nah, I doubt it.