Frozen streams and icy fields

Jeanie Mac, busy two months for CaveMammy!  I haven’t had a minute to write up any adventures for the last while what with the demands of work, home and a newly mobile CaveBaby that tries to scale or jump off every object that appears in his path.  It’s May now and finally getting sunnier and so the free range adventures are changing shape.  But there are still some winter stories to be told, to round things off before we put on the shorts and t-shirts in the hope of a bit of Vitamin D!  Here’s two from January.

Tue 15th Jan.  One free range Tuesday we learned that full body immersion in streams, in winter, is not a good idea.

It was an icy cold day.  We’d arranged to meet up with a few people at the Red Stables carpark in St Anne’s and were all excited to be expanding our Tuesday gang.  We geared up in the carpark like the explorers we are and set out for the park.  First stop a huge patch of mud (we later realised it smelled suspiciously of manure but we didn’t let it ruin the moment).  It was very very squelchy and there was lots of satisfying plopping and stomping.  Poor CaveBoy was having what we like to call a sensitive day and a fall into the mud with the loss of a boot was all too much.  There were tears.  A wet sock was taken off but the welly boot was rubbing.  There were more tears.  It was all going a bit Pete Tong for CaveBoy.  To save the day (ah little did we know!), we suggested heading to the steam for a play.  So we went back to the cool spot where you can cross the stream on stepping stones, climb up through a path in the trees and come back around over the bridge.  Great fun.

CaveBoy, be careful of those rocks, they’re very slippy.  CaveBoy, if you’re going to walk across that rock, you need to go slowly, you’ll slip.  CaveBoy … splash.  I think I now know what a banshee would sound like.  Full body immersion, backside first, into a FREEZING cold pool of water between the rocks.  The humanity.

After the blood-curdling howls had died down and a bit of mopping had happened, we decided to continue on.  More friends came along at this stage and we found a nice shallow, shingly spot that was great for splashing.   There were chasing games on the embankment further on and some swinging on a rope that had been hung up on a tree.  The photo below of the kids on the embankment is the only one we have on the day.  I would have loved a photo of CaveBoy in that river but I felt I might be reported to some kind of service if my first response was to take out the camera.

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But the cold was getting in on everyone at this stage.  One of the free rangers had stuffed her mams gloves into her wellies to keep her feet warm.  Another one was wearing not-quite-waterproof pink ski boots and had poor little wrinkled tootsies from all the waterlogging.  And CaveBoy was going downhill fast and starting to shake so we had to take our leave and hotfoot it back to the car.  As we passed the normal people in the playground, who hadn’t allowed their children to fall into a stream, CaveBoy was keening dramatically.  Please try to stop, said I, we’re nearly there and people are looking.  I’m sorry for crying mammy, said he, but I’m cold and wet and sad.  Arrow. Through. Heart.  Please don’t call the services on me, I’ve learned my lesson!

Back to the car and the quickest ever change into warm dry clothes.  After a singsong on the way home to lift the spirits, we deconstructed the afternoon.  Maybe next time, we won’t jump on the slippy rocks, I suggested.  An emphatic NO to that and a firm decision from both of them that they would stay clear of all water until the summer comes and the sun makes it all warm.  Ha!  They seem unaware that they live in a country where summer takes place on a specified weekend but hey, who am I to question the innocence of youth?

Tue 22nd Jan.  The ice fields of Santry.

We went to pick up CaveCousin from his preschool, as we do on a Tuesday, but there was disaster! CaveAunty had forgotten to leave the carseat!  In fact, it ended up being a great turn of events as the park we were going to (Santry Demesne) is on a bus route from our house and I had been contemplating going by bus but was wary of going without the comfort of the car and dry clothes in the boot.  But now we had no choice so decided to bite the bullet.  I couldn’t carry too much with CaveBaby on my back in the sling so I packed a messenger bag with the bare minimum – two facecloths for mop-ups/dry-ups, spare socks and gloves, a few babywipes and some water.  After the escapades of the week before, the boys were warned within inches of their lives – do NOT fall into wet mud or water or you will be cold and miserable all the way home!  Ok, Ok, they groaned and off we went with high excitement to get the bus.

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It had been very cold the week before and had even snowed a little so the air was icy.  I wasn’t too keen on coming in the main entrance to the park as the playground is in full view and I didn’t want the playground pestering to start straight away but they were happy enough when I told them they could go over for a few minutes at the end.  I’d intended to cross the main open park space near the entrance and explore the trees and steppes on the other side but we hit the motherlode when we saw that the huge pools of water in the centre, that had formed through bad drainage, had all frozen over!

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We had the best of fun cracking the ice.  We stepped forward holding hands, cracking, cracking, and then legging it back when it started to get deep.  CaveBoy liked the two feet jump method of cracking

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while CaveCousin preferred a more methodical stick based approach.

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No pool, no matter how small, was left uncracked and they can be seen here combining their tactics to finish off an outlier.

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One pool was particularly large and deep and CaveBoy took it upon himself to crack his way to the tree in the middle.  Do you think that’s a good idea CaveBoy?  Yes, Mammy – said airily.  While circling the hard ice at the base, he lost his footing and CaveCousin and I watched, jaws dropping, as he fell in slow motion.  Two seconds on the ice and back up – I’m not wet, I’m not wet!  The look of horror on his face – I’m not sure if it was fear of being ice cold again or of being murdered for falling after all the warnings.  But all was well.

The fallen logs that are there were covered in ice too so they had some fun walking along those with help – they were hugely slippy and it was an real physical and mental challenge to stay on.  I could only hold hands with one person at a time so they had to take turns, turn ending when they slipped off.  The competition was fierce!  And then finally, I relented and said we could go the playground but, when we got to the gate, there was a sign saying it was closed due to frost. Ha, score for CaveMammy!  I scowl at you playground from under my brolly.

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Drizzle was setting in at that stage and it was time for home.  CaveBaby had slept through the whole thing on my back and was slowly waking up now making puzzled squeaks.  Back out we went through some frozen mud to get the bus and it was very satisfying for once to not have to worry about changing them before the journey back but to just head off home, strip them off in the hallway of the house and send them into the warm sitting room in their pants and t-shirt to heat up.  Public transport seriously is the business.

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